Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘What’s going on in Syria and Bahrain

Have you been in a torture chamber? What’s going on in Syria and Bahrain?

The British daily The Guardian published the testimony of Adnan (a pseudonym) who was arrested last Friday in the town of Moudamiyeh near Damascus, after protests in which he did not take part.

“We saw about a thousand protesters come out of the mosque and more people came to join them. The mosque was surrounded by riot police and troops, but it was peaceful until the protesters tried to start marching, chanting “God, Syria, Freedom, that’s all!”. Some protesters threw stones, then we saw the security forces open fire. One seemed to target the protest leader; they shot him in the head.

We were trying to leave the town when someone shouted “Stop!” and ordered us to kneel down.  Troops from the Fourth Division (the elite unit commanded by Maher, President Bashar al-Assad‘s brother) were involved.  The same troops that were involved in suppressing protests in Deraa, the south-western town that has become a focus for unrest.

We have always regarded the security forces with fear, but not the army. They are conscripts – even in the lower ranks of the Fourth Division. They pulled our tops over our heads so we couldn’t see clearly and pinned our arms behind our backs. They hit us on the back and head, sometimes with the butts of their guns. They accused us of being foreign agents, and of trying to film protests to send to the media.

We were thrown in the back of an army truck and taken to the base on the outskirts of Damascus. We were put in a room and beaten from 4pm to 4am.  We were tortured for12 hours without sleep. The beating would stop for 15 minutes and resumed by someone else.

They accused us of working for former Saad al-Hariri PM of Lebanon and the Saudi prince Bandar bin Sultan.  In the morning, we were taken to the Air Force Intelligence. Fifty of us were crammed in a 15-meter square cell. Among us, there were 15-year-old boys and 80-year-old men.

We could only stand up; there was no space to sleep. None of them had been at any protests. Many were arrested just because they were from Deraa. Many were fathers and sons. People were covered in blood: they had bad bruising and cuts on their bodies; they were bashed.

I tried to lift the spirits of the young people by talking to them. One 15-year-old boy asked me why we were there if the President had lifted the emergency law. I didn’t know what to say: this country doesn’t run on law. A man my age was crying.  He told me he had heard his elderly father being beaten and he had begged them to beat him instead. “He is old, he can’t take it like I can,” he said. ‘But they ignored me’. Another man with cancer asked if he could go home. They replied: ‘We don’t care about your illness. If you die, we will dig a grave for you here.’

The entire experience is built around humiliation (the same tactics of humiliation of the Zionists). We were blindfolded. We were shouted at. We were only allowed to the toilet once a day, for three seconds. We had to strip down to our underwear and someone would stand outside the door counting. If you didn’t finish within three seconds you were beaten. I often didn’t go; I was too worried. We were given water and food, but you don’t want to drink when you can’t go to the toilet.

We were taken out of the cell to be beaten and I was interrogated several times. One time, they took us to a room with an electric chair. I said no, this is too much, not this. They didn’t use it but they have one – I saw it with my own eyes. They accused me of working for foreign gangs. They were angry about videos of the protests being leaked and they searched everyone’s phones. They finally decided to let me go in the early hours of the morning.  I was exhausted and bruised and battered.

It was a horrible experience. This regime is brutal but also stupid. Everyone in there said they were angrier, not more afraid. You cannot forgive a regime that does this to you.”

In the Syrian “Constitution” there are two contradicting clauses.  One clause states that the secular Baath party is the party of the regime.  The other clause is that Islam is the religion of the State.  We don’t hear this regime mentioning the Baath party anymore, or that Islam is the official religion. And you wonder “what is the ideology of this regime?”  There is none, save maintaining the hold of the Assad clan in power.

This oligarchic regime has wide experience with Islamic factions and had manipulated many of them as proxies in Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan…The same brutal tactics are counter productive and working in favor of the extremist Islamic movements.  Most probably, this regime has no infrastructure to discuss and engage positively with the mass uprising.  This closed knit regime has not evolved to handle inside problems in a democratic procedure.

What this regime has to do is seriously forming a wide progressive and secular movement to face the growing indignities that the Syrian citizens have been subjugated to. Bashar has to ultimately step down and his clan sent to pasture before peace and stability return to Syria.  The people want a moratorium on these antic forms of regimes.




July 2021

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