From "Syria: Torture by the Security Forces," a report by Amnesty International released today: Torture is a regular experience for thousands of political prisoners in Syria.

For years Amnesty International has received reports that political prisoners are systematically tortured and ill-treated by Syrian security forces. The victims range from students to lawyers to housewives to soldiers. Anyone who opposes the government is at risk. People arrested or abducted by the security forces in those areas of Lebanon under Syrian control have described tortures similar to those suffered by detainees in Syria.

Torture is facilitated by the extensive powers of arbitrary arrest and detention conferred on the security forces by a state of emergency . . . in force in Syria since 1963. . . . These powers have been grossly abused, resulting in thousands of arbitrary arrests. The security forces have arrested people at will, without warrants, without any explanation of why they are being arrested and without reference to any central authority and held them incommunicado for long periods, in some cases for years. . . .

Brutal methods of torture have been described to Amnesty International by former inmates of Syrian prisons . . . {and} by former detainees tortured by Syrian forces in Lebanon. One, known as the Black Slave, involves strapping the victim onto a device which . . . inserts a heated metal skewer into the anus. The Washing Machine is a hollow spinning drum . . . into which the victim's arms are pushed and spun until they are crushed. There is the Syrian Chair, a metal chair to which a victim is bound by the hands and feet. The chair's backrest is then bent backwards, causing acute stress to the spine. . . .