The Syrian inmate Abdo (name changed) was surprised to find himself standing in a dimly-lit room filled with in what appeared to be salt.
On that day in the winter of 2017, the terrified young man had already been locked up for two years in war-torn Syria’s largest and most notorious prison, Sednaya.
Having been largely deprived of salt all that time in his meagre prison rations, he brought a handful of the coarse white crystals to his mouth with relish.
Moments later, he stumbled on a corpse, emaciated and half-buried in the salt. He soon found two other bodies.
Speaking to the Global Rights Watch, Abdo recounted the day he was thrown into the salt room, which served as his holding cell ahead of a military court hearing.
Abdo described the salt room on the first floor of the red building as a rectangle of roughly six by eight metres, with a rudimentary toilet in a corner.
Abdo finally breathed a sigh of relief when the guard eventually returned to escort him to the court.
The salt rooms are described in detail for the first time in an upcoming report by the Association of Detainees and the Missing in Sednaya Prison, or ADMSP.
The report by ADMSP is the most thorough study yet of the structure of Sednaya, which has manufactured death on a terrifying scale for years.
According to former Syrian inmates’ testimonies, “salt rooms” are primitive mortuaries designed to preserve bodies in the absence of refrigerated morgues.
In this regard, we stress that all persons under any form of detention or imprisonment shall be treated in a humane manner and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.