Ex-Syrian Prisoner Hits Gabbard on Defense of Assad: 'I Have a Video of My Father Being Killed'

March 12, 2019

Omar Alshogre, who was tortured in some of Syria's most notorious prisons for three years, pushed back against Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D., Hawaii) on Tuesday for not acknowledging that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has committed war crimes and is a war criminal.

Alshogre appeared on CNN with host Brianna Keilar, where he discussed his experience in Syrian prisons and delivered a rebuttal to Gabbard's remarks about Assad at a town hall over the weekend. Keilar played a clip of Gabbard responding to a question about whether Assad is a war criminal.

"I think that the evidence needs to be gathered and as I have said before, if there is evidence that he committed war crimes, he should be prosecuted as such," said Gabbard, a 2020 presidential candidate. "Everything that I have said requires that we take action based on evidence. If  the evidence is there, there should be accountability."

Alshogre pushed back against Gabbard's refusal to acknowledge there is evidence of him committing war crimes.

"There is a lot of evidence. There is the wounds on my body. There is a lot-- not a lot of, but there is survivors can tell you about prison, how many people are being killed," Alshogre said. "I have a video of my father being killed. There is a lot of evidence, a lot of videos, a lot of documentary. There is everything."

Keilar asked Alshogre what happens when U.S. politicians don't acknowledge what is happening in Syria and how this affects prisoners in Syria. He said without clarity from politicians, people won't care about the prisoners and they "die in silence." He went on to discuss his experience and how he was surrounded by dead bodies in one of the rooms in which he was held.

Alshogre wasn't the only person from his family thrown in prison for participating in political protests. He was arrested with three cousins, and his family was killed in a massacre, he said.

"Two of them died in front of my eyes, one of them died in my arms, and the third one was a female cousin the same age as me, but I heard that she was killed," he said.

Alshogre will be speaking on Wednesday before the Syrian Emergency Task Force, in cooperation with the House Foreign Affairs Committee, about his experience in Assad's prisons.