Syrian regime tortures indiscriminately – Sources
Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – The stories coming out of Syria every day reveal new details about the difficult situation in the country, and the brutal practices being carried out by the Syrian security apparatus as part of the Bashar al-Assad regime’s attempt to suppress the protests that have swept the country.
Asharq Al-Awsat spoke to one Syrian citizen who was previously arrested by the Syrian security apparatus in Latakia and who revealed that he had been tortured at the hands of the Syrian security forces. The Syrian citizen, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity for fear of being targeted once again by the Syrian security apparatus, revealed that “I was standing outside of my house in the Christian area of Latakia in early May, the streets were practically empty due to the cold weather and rain, however a dozen armed [Syrian] security agents suddenly appeared and surrounded me.”
Speaking in a sad voice, the Syrian youth added “they [the security agents] looked at me in an extremely aggressive manner. Without thinking, I tried to run away from them, but there were too many of them and they caught me.”
Seemingly choking back tears, the Syrian youth related his suffering at the hands of these security agents. He told Asharq Al-Awsat “they beat me for about 15 minutes, although it seemed to last much longer. They continued to punch and kick me until the police van arrived.” He added “in the [police] van, I was forcibly held down whilst they beat me…they did not leave one inch of my body free from the marks of their brutality.”
At this point the Syrian youth fell silent, taking a moment to collect himself before recounting the torture he suffered under interrogation. The youth was extremely reluctant to relive the brutal torture he suffered at the hands of the Syrian security apparatus, although he did reveal to Asharq Al-Awsat that the Syrian interrogators used a number of “torture implements” during questioning. He named a number of torture procedures which he was subject to, including the “flying carpet” [a procedure during which an electric rod is shoved under the genitals of a prisoner strapped to a chair], the “wheel” and others. In addition to this, the Syrian youth claimed to have been subject to more mundane forms of torture, including being whipped, and beaten, and even electrocuted with an electric rod.
This Syrian youth, who is in his late twenties, said that he was held in a detention center along with a number of others, including old men and even young children under the age of 15. He said “these are the new Hamza al-Khatib’s”, in a reference to the 13-year old Syrian child who was allegedly brutally tortured and killed by the Syrian security apparatus.
In a bitter voice, the Syrian youth told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the [Syrian] security apparatus believe in equality…everybody is subject to the same torture, regardless of age, whether they are children, youth, or even old men.”
After two weeks of being held at this detention center, the unnamed Syrian youth was transferred to a detention center run by the Syrian military security, where he says he was detained for another two weeks and subject to similar torture. Following this, he was transferred to a non-military prison. He describes this process of being transferred from one security apparatus to another as being “an example of the regime’s confusion and policy of random detention.”
The Syrian youth, who stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat that he has no intention of leaving his homeland until Bashar al-Assad steps down from power, also revealed that he met a Christian prisoner who was accused of inciting sectarian strife, and another Christian prison accused of being a “Muslim Salafist.”
Addressing all those who accuse Syria of being a “sectarian” country, the youth told Asharq Al-Awsat that “I swear that it is the regime that is inciting sectarianism, for in the civilian prison it was a Christian who tended my wounds, whilst one of my closest friends was a [Muslim] Salafist.”
The Syrian youth is accused of being a member of a Salafist group and insulting the president; his case was transferred to the military court, and he was released pending trial.
Asharq Al-Awsat also spoke with another Syrian youth who was subject to harsh treatment at the hands of the Syrian security apparatus. This youth, who also spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, took part in an anti-governmental demonstration in the Syrian city of Zabadani. He said “we were attacked by security figures carrying sticks and knives and electric rods.” Asked whether he feared for his life during the demonstration, the youth told Asharq Al-Awsat “I felt like a sacrificial enemy facing a group of butchers. I was beaten to severely that I lost consciousness.” He revealed that he was left for dead in the streets, and was eventually rescued by locals.
Describing the current situation in Syria, and particularly the capital, the youth stressed that “Damascus is under siege, there are arrest campaigns everywhere, in [the neighborhoods of] Rakn al-Din, Qaboun, Barza, al-Midan, and elsewhere.”
As for anti-government protests have not erupted in Damascus in the same manner as they have in other Syrian cities such as Hama, Homs, Aleppo, and elsewhere, the Syrian dissident told Asharq Al-Awsat that “there is a state of great fear amongst the people of Damascus due to this campaign of arrests.” He added “last week 840 people were arrested in Douma, 300 people were arrested in Rakn al-Din, 1,500 people were arrested in Qaboun, and 420 people were arrested in Barzah. ” The Syrian youth stressed that “there are military checkpoints everywhere…Damascus has become like a military barracks.”
A Syrian human rights group recently issued a report claiming that one person disappears in Syria every hour and that almost 3,000 people have gone missing since the start of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad more than four months ago. Syrian activists also claim that more than 1,600 people have been killed by Syria’s security forces since the start of the revolt against Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and that the majority of those killed were unarmed protesters.