Detention Survivors…Tortured both in Prison Cells and by Society

As part of the campaign Survivors, or not yet : Article from Hibr – Aya Serhan – 20/04/2019

 

“Isn’t it enough that I married you even though you were detained?” Salma says that her arguments with her husband often ended with this cruel remark. She was arrested when she was 19 years old by the military security forces on March 5, 2013, during the exam period at the Faculty of Law in Damascus.

 

On the details of her arrest, she says, “I received a phone call at 9.30 AM from the Director of Student Affairs who informed me that my request to have a room at the dorm was approved. He insisted that I should come to his office to complete some ‘routine’ procedures, and when I got there, the military security forces were waiting for me. They cuffed me, blindfolded me, and took me in their car.”

 

“I didn’t know what was happening until they removed the blindfold from my eyes and threw me in an underground room. This is when my journey of suffering began. I was tortured both psychologically and physically, including fingernail pulling, electric shocks, and shabeh(hanging the victim from the ceiling by the wrists) for hours, even days.”

 

“I was transferred to Branch 291 in Damascus, where torture and injustice were practiced at an even higher level. In the 4×4 m cell crowded with more than 30 female detainees, I witnessed savage torture methods that are indescribable. Among the detainees was Dr. Faten Rajab (33 years old) from Douma in the Damascus countryside. In addition to holding a PhD in nuclear physics, she was working on a new thesis in nuclear physics in a French university when she was arrested on 26.12.2011.”

 

“They used to throw Faten on the cell’s floor each day as she bled from her mouth, her nose, her ears, and even her eyes. This savage torturing went on until she was killed in a vault of the Syrian intelligence services. Another female detainee was a Turkish journalist who lost her mind following the repeated gang rapes to which she was subjected.”

 

“According to many reports, the arrest of women was a method used by the regime to insult, humiliate, and pressure some opposition factions, as well as to obtain information. Most female detainees admitted under duress to committing the fabricated charges against them.”   

 

Salma goes on in her interview with Hibr newspaper, “I was released after a year of detention. I picked up what little I had left in body and in spirit and left my small prison, only to be greeted into a larger one.

 

I suffered from the disdain people gave me for being a former detainee and faced many veiled accusations and hurtful questions.”  

 

“When I realized that it would be impossible for me to reintegrate society and I felt ostracized, I sought asylum in Turkey with my family. There, I met my husband who promised to make me forget both my small and my large prison. However, our arguments often ended with this cruel remark: “Isn’t it enough that I married you even though you were detained?”

 

I finally chose to keep what little dignity I had left, moving away from him with my child.

 

I now work to support my child and my family (my mother and siblings) after all my attempts to continue my education failed, since no one dares to bring me my diplomas that allow me to enroll because I’m a former detainee.”

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