‘Syria’s Torture Machine’: British Documentary Offers Cause For Concern In More Ways Than One - WhoWhatWhy

‘Syria’s Torture Machine’: British Documentary Offers Cause For Concern In More Ways Than One

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A recent documentary by Channel 4 (UK) has brought to light what it describes as “a production line of torture” that is taking place on “an industrial scale” in Syria. Jonathan Miller, Channel 4’s foreign affairs correspondent, investigates footage taken from thousands of videos circulating online, with the aim of determining whether or not there is prima facie evidence of widespread and systematic torture being carried out by the Syrian state on its own people. But the true significance of this film may well run deeper than that.

The film clips gathered in Syria’s Torture Machine depict graphic acts of torture and the horrific injuries that result; powerful images capable of causing even the most ardent of pacifists to advocate force.

Miller claims that every one of the clips shown has been independently verified, but is forced to concede in his report for the Guardian, ‘I heard nothing but denials that the security forces were shooting, shelling and torturing civilians… we lived in a bubble, seeing nothing of the extreme brutality and killing for which the Syrian regime is so notorious.’ He also relies heavily on claims made by human rights groups and the United Nations in supporting his case against the Assad regime— claims that some skeptics have said are made with zero verification.

The UN has accused the Syrian regime of committing crimes against humanity, claiming that since the civil unrest began last March, 5000 Syrian civilians have been killed, and tens of thousands more arrested—and, as this documentary claims, “pushed through a detention system where torture is endemic.”

However, this number is only a very rough estimate, and the UN acknowledges that this figure may include armed defectors. The UN, along with almost all Western journalists, are denied access to Syria, meaning that the information about who has been killed, how many, and by whom is for the most part speculation.

As a result of such uncertainties, this documentary could well be viewed as just another escalation of the narrative being generated by Western media of a brutal and oppressive regime that needs to be brought to an end. Aisling Byrne, a projects coordinator with the NGO Conflicts Forum, believes that what we see reported in the Western media is not the full story, merely a deliberate and calculated campaign to bring down the Assad government so as to replace it with a regime “more compatible” with US interests in the region’. She writes in the Asia Times, ‘the first stage of this war on Iran is Syria; the first campaign in a much wider sectarian power-bid.’

This documentary (and the daily news reports of a tyrannical and violent regime in Syria) is reminiscent of the build-up to the invasion of Iraq, when mainstream Western media prepped the public for invasion with distressing reports of atrocities committed under Saddam’s reign. The purported motive for the torture carried out in Syria is even the same as that reported in Iraq—to intimidate and terrify the population. A similar pattern has continued with the outbreak of the Arab Spring.

WhoWhatWhy has for some time been reporting on how Western governments and their media have been more favorable to some uprisings than to others—with their media compliant in selective coverage and failure to verify independently. Such contrasts can be seen when looking at the steady tattoo of allegations concerning mass atrocities leveled at Qaddafi of Libya (but after his demise never confirmed), compared to the almost complete failure to cover the uprising in Saudi Arabia—or ongoing human rights outrages there.

Syria’s Torture Machine makes tough viewing and goes far to refute President Assad’s claims that his forces are merely quelling armed insurgence. Yet it seems to do so with the underlying intent of softening up the public for another ‘intervention’ in the Middle East. It is not enough to accept this kind of “documentation” and its nauseating content. What is needed is some sense of the larger picture, and whether or not we, too, might be victims of a kind of assault, albeit of a propagandistic nature. For Assad and his regime have long been brutal, yet Western governments never complained. We do need to ask whether or not some larger agenda is being played out.

Syria`s torture machine “Exclusive” film by… by oliveero
Content Warning: ‘Syria’s Torture Machine’ contains disturbing and distressing depictions and characterizations of torture and other atrocities, including the deaths of children.

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8 responses to “‘Syria’s Torture Machine’: British Documentary Offers Cause For Concern In More Ways Than One”

  1. Avatar Barshi says:

    Any intelligent person can see that the colonial powers like to destroy regimes that are not on their side. One can see that in all the Arab uprisings in Egypt,Bahrain,Yemen,Tunisia, peaceful demonstrators were being shot at and killed by the government forces. There were no calls from the west for the protection of citizens human rights.How ever when it came to Libya and Syria suddenly there are well armed groups,well organized and well publicized by the corporate media to attack government forces,and the imperial powers are calling for intervention to protect the civilians. The sad thing is that they get away with it since they have the power, money,and the powerful corporate MEDIA.

  2. Avatar Carl Rising-Moore says:

    Every nation has civil and human rights violations that require exposure.  For instance, the U.S. has more prisoners per capita than any other nation. Torture is practiced in every state of  the U.S. within the prisons.   Rape of inmates is universal, detention in cells without light for months on end is routine, (I know about this because it happened to me).

    This does not forgive any nation for  human and civil rights violations, but it begs the answer of how the West can can point a finger at other nations that violate these universal rights while we continue to remove legal safeguards that protect our citizens.

    The New Year’s bill that Obama signed authorizing the detention without legal recourse by the US military of any citizen that the Administration “suspects” of illegal acts, has shredded the US Bill of Rights and our Constitution.  

    Before we point the finger at other nations that are not compliant as to US and NATO goals of world domination through Full Spectrum Dominance, we should remember that we have three fingers pointing back at us as we point that finger.

    It is time for us to all read the warnings of Chalmers Johnson as to the real plans of the West to dominate and control the planet Earth.  

    Russia and China will no longer rubber stamp, at the UN Security Council,  the overthrow of government after government in our domino plan of world domination.

    How many nations have been overthrown by our taxpayers dollars?  How many of our troops have lost their lives or health in this pursuit of this neo-con plan to rule the Earth?

    How does neo-liberalism  fit into the grand plan of economic manipulation of country after coutry?

    The big lie is that we in the West do not care about democracy or freedom, we have overthrow nation after nation that had democratically elected leaders that do no follow our orders and we install military dictators that toe the line of our grand plan for global control.

    Russia has offered a diplomatic solution to the NATO and US attempt to overthrow yet one more nation.  

    The 7 billion people of our little planet deserve better than war and tyranny of those that would rule the world in the name of democracy and freedom.  What we need is real democracy and freedom from the war criminals that deliver cruise and hell fire attack from above.   

    If Karma exists, then there will be a reckoning for these generals with a rainbow collection of ribbons on their chest and those executives that send them to kill and destroy nation after nation.

    This comment has nothing to do with left or right.  It is about what is right and what is wrong.   


    • Avatar gnineamneddihrofkool says:

      Indeed, if such news coverage and reports are all drum beating propaganda to ready us for a demolition of damascus by NATO bombers, then shouldn’t they should pass over Washington on their way…

  3. Avatar par4 says:

    Absolutely none of the colonial European powers or the U.S. has any moral authority  to condemn anyone, anywhere for anything.

  4. Avatar Kusokurae says:

    Our foreign aid tax dollars at work.

  5. Avatar Bamftiger says:

    There doesn’t have to be a good guy. The Syrian regime is terrible, and so is the CIA-Pentagon war machine.

  6. Avatar Morocco Bama says:

    Excellent and fair analysis. This is what journalism should be. Something you didn’t mention though, but is of utmost importance, is the fact that this alleged Syrian Torture Apparatus has been used quite judiciously by the U.S. Intelligence Services as one of its Black Site Prisons. The current mainstream reporting of outrage mentions nothing of the CIA’s complicity with any of this…..as though the U.S. is innocent, and distinct from such ruthless, debased tactics. As the following points out, rendition to these Black Sites for Torture and Murder has not ceased under Obama. It continues to this day, which makes what’s going on with Syria even more intriguing and perplexing. One day they’re using the Syrians, like an outsourced call center to India, to torture and murder the bevy of “terrorists” that are seemingly everywhere these days, or so the story goes, and the next day, the Syrians are being pilloried in the press as murdering torturers that must be deposed. It’s a shame for the common people of Syria who are caught in the crossfire of all this clandestine duplicity. Such a pity for Assad and his wife who seemed so cosmopolitan and Western. Well, it seems Vogue has removed the article from their site where they spoke glowingly of the Assad couple and family. In its stead, I have linked to the Atlantic which discusses the glowing character assessment from Vogue. As you can see, when you attempt to access the Vogue article from the Atlantic link, it says “page can no longer be found.” Funny, that.



    • Avatar Russ Baker says:

      Great points–and thanks. The smell of hypocrisy is indeed in the air. We’ll follow up on these.