‘Syria’s Torture Machine’ includes shocking torture footage and survivor testimony

Shocking video evidence and survivor testimony has been broadcast by Channel 4 as part of its investigation into the detention and torture of Syrian civilians.

The powerful documentary ‘Syria’s Torture Machine’ was broadcast after 11pm on Monday due to the distressing material it featured, which included mobile phone footage of torture being carried out – mostly by uniformed soldiers – and post-mortem video recordings of bodies displaying injuries associated with torture.

Freedom from Torture’s Head of Doctors, Dr Juliet Cohen, was interviewed on the programme and gave her expert opinion on the torture methods being employed and the potential long lasting injuries that can result from such ill-treatment.

Dr Cohen, said:

I have examined and heard testimony from many patients about their experiences of torture, but seeing it happening in the film clips was shocking in a different way.

"Some of the victims are young – in one clip clearly teenage boys – and often blindfolded to increase their fear. The violence escalates in some of the clips, showing increasing brutality and dehumanisation of the victims, to the point where I feared that they would not survive what was being done to them.

“Some of the footage showed falaka (beating on the soles of the feet), whilst in other clips I could see victims being slapped, kicked, whipped or threatened with electric shocks while begging for mercy. Film taken afterwards showed the bruising and abrasions on their bodies, some with the classic sign of 'tramline' bruising, indicating severe beating with a baton or stick.

“From my experience over many years of working with survivors of torture it is the psychological damage that will be the most devastating and difficult to recover from.”

‘Syria’s Torture Machine’ can be viewed online here and you can join the debate and see how Channel 4 viewers responded to the documentary on Twitter.