[DATAVIZ] Syria: ISIS’s beheadings must not make us forget the crimes of the regime

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This set of five graphics compile information gathered by FIDH partner organisation in Syria, the Violations Documentation Center (VDC). VDC has been recording death, detentions, and disappearances since March 2011, when the first protests took place in the city of Deraa. Working with a network of activists on the ground inside Syria, as well as outside the country, VDC has documented 130,035 deaths and 60,424 cases of detainment and kidnapping resulting from the conflict. While the statistics provided by VDC are reliable, their figures are by no means complete. The latest UN report estimates the total death toll to be at least 220,000.

VDC has meticulously recorded the identities of those killed and held captive, including age, sex, location, and civilian/combatant status. The organisation has also assembled a list of names of those concerned. More importantly, VDC has collected information regarding the groups responsible for these deaths and disappearances, as well as the cause of each death recorded. The graphics below break down four years worth of data, helping us better understand the dynamic of violence in Syria.


VDC uses a combination of field work and documentary research to gather its information, which is vetted through a three-tiered system. VDC field activists are located in various regions across the country, where they regularly visit field hospitals, cemeteries, media centers and families of the victims. They then report their findings, including photos and videos collected, to the VDC administration team. Finally, VDC’s daily verifiers run the final reports by the field activists one last time, to make sure all information is exact.

As VDC notes on its website, the security situation on the ground makes the work of its field activists extremely difficult, victims’ families fear retribution for sharing information, and regular power outages make communication difficult.

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