From the Pit of Hell, Assad’s Cerberus snarls at the dispossessed and displaced

Merve Şebnem Oruç reminds us what Assad’s regime is like: Twenty-four-year-old Ahmet, who lives near the Syrian border in the Reyhanlı district of Turkey’s southern city of Hatay, tells the story of one of his close friends, Abdullah. Ahmet says that when Abdullah and he were students in Damascus, Syrian intelligence took Abdullah away in a raid on a mosque when the first mass protests kicked off. That day, intelligence officers gathered people, who were present in the mosque courtyard, by mercilessly bludgeoning their faces.The only thing wrong that Abdullah did that day was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. His family and friends did not hear from him or receive any news about his situation for more than two weeks.

Seventeen days after this unfortunate incident, an appalling phone call came from Abdullah, saying, “I’m completely naked; I’m coming by taxi; can you get me some money to pay for the fare and to buy me some clothes?”

When Abdullah finally arrived at the door of the house where he and Ahmet were staying, his desperate appearance, his dramatic weight loss, broken arms and swollen eyes, showed that he was subject to unspeakable torture. Abdullah later told Ahmed that he was held in a 10 square-meter cell with some 26 others. When I first heard this story, I couldn’t believe it. I had to ask Ahmet “How this could be possible?” A total of 17 days, full of torture, in a very small cell where 27 people had to literally sit on top each other… It is really hard to imagine.

Almost one year later, Abdullah was arrested once again and his mother immediately started going from door to door to find her son. Finally, a regime correspondent told her, “I’ll bring you your son but you have to pay me $50,000 first.” The family sold their entire savings and gave the money. When Abdullah’s mother excitedly arrived at the prison to see her son, the guards threatened her and told her, “You can only see him, you can’t talk to him. If you say even a word, we’ll kill him.” In her meeting with Abdullah, the only thing they shared was tears. Read full article here