March 19, 2009

Public Execution (by Hanging) in Aleppo
Aleppo, Syria

Three men were supposedly set to be executed in a public square this morning.

Being that such a thing is a part of Syrian culture, and one hell of a random opportunity to witness said culture, I felt compelled to attend.

The last public execution to take place in the city was back in October 2007, where apparently a group of kids (five, aged 18–23) were running around robbing and slitting the throats of taxi drivers.

These things used to be large, public displays under the prior presidency, but his son (and current successor) feels somewhat differently. Hangings are done at an inconvenient time of the morning for most, though the bodies are supposedly still left on display for two hours after the event.

Regardless, the message still rings clear for locals: Justice is swift and sever for those that take lives.

As a result, supposedly this county enjoys a higher degree of safety from such things than its neighbors. Whether this is true or not is up for debate, though Syria's 73.6% literacy rate for women over age 15 doesn't instill much faith in any system they've got in place (yeesh, statistically, over 1 out of every 4 women encountered here will be illiterate!).

But I digress, back to the hanging…

Three men were caught on a security camera in a botched jewelry store robbery (which I've obtained footage of and have included below).

One of the three robbers had an automatic rifle, and when the store clerk foolishly hit the gate button for the storefront the gunman panicked and opened fire at close range, killing him. Then, for some reason, we see the same man shooting into the street (or at the gate?), where he killed a second person. Later, the three would be implicated in the death of the taxi driver that had driven them away from the scene.

It took only 72 hours between the time that all three were caught (on the same day), judged, and sentenced to death.


( video: 2009 Aleppo Gunmen )

The execution was supposedly to be at 5:00 a.m. sharp, in the cold twilight hours just after dawn.

I got up at 4:25 to get to the square (dressing in warm clothing and concealing my face), only to find that no one was there. There was some debate regarding the date of this thing between my people here—some said today, others tomorrow, then came this mention of 'next week'. Maybe I wasn't even the right location for the spectacle, I was just going off the information passed to people I knew from the Syrians they knew.

Whatever the deal is, I'll be leaving the city tomorrow morning, unable to attend regardless of when it's actually scheduled. How disappointing.

Comments:

The United States

Kent

April 16th, 2009

Why conceal your face?

Israel and the Palestinian Territories

Adrian

April 19th, 2009

I was there and missed or didnt get it confirmed either.
Concealing Craigs face? perhaps it was early in the morning, Aleppo or a lot of these parts get pretty cold. I was there similar time and it was frezzing.

I found this city very safe. People are very welcoming. They stop you on the street to say "Hello, welcome" or "Come in for coffee/Tea", my favourite "hello, excuse me do you need help? Where would you like to go"
Love Syria

The United Kingdom

Melissa

July 5th, 2010

I am currently researching the death penalty in Syria which is how I came across this page.

The death penalty should not be confused with 'culture', but rather recognised for what it is: a barbaric form of punishment, outlawed widely in international law and very regularly misapplied for various crimes that in many countries aren't even illegal. Obviously I am talking sodomy or adultry here, not murder.

To attend a hanging as entertainment, albeit disguised as conforming with local 'culture', just goes to ensure such punishment will never be fully abolished.

I think that it would do the author well to read up somewhat on the statisics of the use of the death penalty in the middle east; the flawed, biased and untransparent judicial system of Syria, the regular use of torture in police custody (goes to extracting confessions) and the international condemnation of the procedural unfairness of trials. Maybe then he will think again before attending, and as such indirectly sanctioning, a public execution. And certainly not be disappointed by the lack of them.

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