WASHINGTON, D.C.: US lawmakers saw graphic images of the brutal conflict in Syria on Thursday (Friday in Manila) as an army defector gave an eyewitness account of the horrors he was forced to photograph.
“I am not a politician and I don’t like politics . . . and neither am I a lawyer,” said the former Syrian military police photographer who escaped from his homeland last year, bringing with him some 55,000 pictures taken as part of his job to catalogue the dead.
“I had the job of taking pictures of all the deaths . . . before and after the revolution,” explained the man known only as Caesar, who appeared in heavy disguise before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
He was required to download the photos and store them on state computers to document the battle against the rebel opposition by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, now in its fourth year.
“I have seen horrendous pictures of bodies of people who had tremendous amount of torture,” Caesar told about 100 people who listened in heavy silence. Around them on easels were six enlarged photos showing naked, skeletal bodies lying on the ground.
Most had been stretched out in meticulous rows, some bearing white labels attached around their wrists, all with their faces blanked out. A few still wore underpants, but most were naked.
Speaking through an interpreter, Caesar told of seeing corpses with “deep wounds and burns and strangulations”—some of which had had “their eyes carved out” and others that were “emaciated and skinny.”
More than 170,000 people have been killed since the Syrian uprising began in March 2011, and millions have fled—both within the country or to refugee camps abroad.
“The conflict has created unimaginable human suf–fering,” Committee chairman Ed Royce said.