Hamza al Khatib disappeared during demonstrations on April 29 in the south of the country. His mutilated body was returned to his family a month later. In a gruesome video posted on the internet, apparent medical examiners point to gunshot wounds on his corpse.
They claim to have found bruises on his arms and legs, say his neck has been broken and he has been tortured. They also claim his genitals were mutilated.
The body is partly decomposed.
It is impossible to verify the claims, although the puncture holes in his chest and arms look like gunshot wounds. The Syrian government claims Hamza was killed in a shoot-out between armed gangs and guards, but says that there is no evidence of torture.
In a sense the truth about his death is less important than the impact of the video (Warning: Graphic content).
Hamza has been compared to Mohamed Bouazizi, the vegetable seller whose self-immolation sparked the Tunisian revolution.
His story is also reminiscent of Khaled Said‘s, the Egyptian whose death in police custody began the Facebook campaign that started the revolution there.
Despite unleashing the full force of its military on protestors the regime has been unable to quell the unrest. Large protests are continuing, but neither side has yet gained sufficient momentum to overcome the other.
Related: We are all Hamza Alkhateeb (facebook page)