Mom and grandma were between me and the door; they were not willing to let me go this Friday, especially to that mosque. Auntie wasn’t that tough though, but she didn’t want me to go either. After half an hour of arguing, they realized they weren’t able to stop me from going. But now they intended to play a different game. They went into the room, sat down on the sofa and with a sad tone and said “You wanna go? Just go.” They thought that I might be sorry or kind, that I would be polite enough to stay at home or at least attend a different mosque in Damascus.
But I made up my mind from the last night, even though I felt something bad was going to happen. I saw a mysterious dream the night before; I usually feel this kind of stuff. Despite the bad feeling, I took off with my cousin. He’s a close friend of mine, a lifelong friend. He was with me since the beginning; I went to demonstrations, mainly with him. A hundred meters away from home, I told him about my dream. He stopped for a minute, frozen, and then he asked me to consider going to a different mosque. I reminded him that he himself doesn’t believe in this kind of stuff. So we continued our journey. We went first to my friend’s house to pick up my friend before heading to the mosque, it was his first time to protest.
When we arrived, we didn’t notice any security presence. That was odd since this was the first time I arrived at a mosque to find no one waiting for me outside with a stick in his hand. I have been protesting for a long time now, so a security presence is always expected. I did however notice the presence of many cameras around, inside as well as outside the mosque, in order to find out who were protesting.
Anyone who comes to this particular mosque comes to protest; that’s for sure. This particular Friday’s speech was good, the same I think, calling to speed up the “reforms”, demanding the regime to stop the violence and allow freedom of speech. After we finished praying in the mosque, we went out and waited for a few minutes. The numbers weren’t as usual from this particular mosque. I thought we’d return home without protesting. Though, minutes later, we stared the demo and I saw my friend jumping from his happiness. We marched few meters. We were surprised that still, there were no security forces near the mosque. We started chanting “The people want to topple the regime,” as well as other chants, but they didn’t gave us the time to march or chant.
We saw the security forces behind us, running toward us. They were in dark green uniforms with dark green hamlets too. Some people stared to run and they, the security forces, showered us with tear gas. I was choking and couldn’t see anything, though it wasn’t my first time to taste it. But soon, I discovered the ambush we were in. There are four ways in this place. Behind us was blocked, the street on the right and in front of us was blocked too with security forces. The left street was leading to a security compound, so I knew we were trapped.
It was a complete chaos. In the beginning, I didn’t run and I started to shout “Where are you going? Get back!”, but soon, I noticed that everyone had run away and I was alone. My cousin and my friends ran away in the chaos. When I found out this, I got really afraid and decided to run too. I think I was the last one in the scene.
Most people ran to the left, but I didn’t. I thought the best option is to knock on someone’s door. I ran to a building and I rang the bell, but nobody answered. I rang the doorbell over and over again, but still nobody answered. The security forces were just meters away; they saw me at this point, but didn’t do anything at the time. I waited and waited but nothing happened to me. People were being arrested, were beaten and put into cars in front of my own eyes, my hands were shaking from what I saw. I thought after a few minutes, it was a good time to leave. So I left the building and walked into the street.
Suddenly, “That’s him! Get him!”, people from the building screamed. I really freaked out when I heard them, and one of the security forces ran towards me. I stared to run, and I’m a fast runner. The man couldn’t catch me so he hit me on the head with a wooden stick. I continued to run, but another one hit me again on my head and I think another did too. My head got very heavy and I ran few meters before I fell to the ground. They gathered over me and started to beat me. I saw many weapons: sticks, whips and some sort of flexible swords (it wasn’t a sword exactly. It wasn’t sharp since it didn’t cut my hand). They were hitting me particularly on my head; some of them were screaming, “Don’t beat him, animals, don’t beat him on his head.”
However, they continued to beat me. They were beating me like they were beating an enemy and insulting me too. I though myself dead in that moment. After that I didn’t feel anything; I think I was senseless, but not unconscious. Many thoughts were spinning in my head. First, I thought myself in a dream. I went to many demonstrations since the beginning, I was never caught. So I had an ego, I thought myself uncatchable. I thought about mom and grandma too. I remembered my cousin and my friends; I hoped they were out of there.
After that, they lifted me into a car whilst continuing to beat me. I felt alive again when I stood up. They lowered my head so I couldn’t see where they’d take us. There were two other young people in the car with me. It was a small car, a civilian car and not a military or a police car. The two guys were bleeding and they lowered their heads too, whilst two men from the security forces were over them and punching them. They closed the door without handcuffing me. I planned to open the door and jump out as soon as we left the scene. The window was open enabling many of them to continue hitting me on my head.
I felt a salty taste in my mouth, probably blood. Moments later, the driver intended to move. I was pleased, but they stopped him immediately. They opened the door to handcuff me, it was my only chance to run, and it was gone. We took off then. A stupid conversation went between the driver and the man next to him. Apparently, a tear gas bomb fell next to them.
“Who’s bombed us?” the driver said. “One of us I think,” the other man responded. The driver seemed dumb, “How can a security officer throw a tear gas bomb on us?” he asked. The other man answered him “I don’t know, he missed the shot. Who else has tear gas?”. The driver was convinced by this answer, though. “My eyes are burning,” he said. The other man felt the same. The driver was in hurry, although he couldn’t see well. I hoped we crash, I prefer dying to be in a Syrian prison.
The other two men were over us, punching each of us and saying, “You want freedom, aha? Traitors!” I’m filtering out the swearing and insults, which were present in abundance in every sentence they spoke, insults about family, about us and about God. The driver and the man next to him were very worried from the police and people. I’m not sure why they were worried about the police, but the other man kept saying, “Don’t stop for police.” They were worried that anyone might take a picture of us and publish it online. They asked the two men above us to lower our heads. But in a moment, I managed to raise my head enough. I saw a mosque so I recognized the area and knew where they were taking us.
When we arrived at the compound, they took us out of the car and laid us on the ground. It was like a garage, but I’m not sure. There were other detainees there too. They put us near each other and started to beat us again. My phone was ringing at that moment, in fact, since the beginning. I think my cousin or one of my friends was calling to check if I was ok. I tried to reject the call but my hands were cuffed to the back so I couldn’t reach my pocket. Someone came to us and asked us if anyone had a mobile phone. He took my mobile and my wallet, hit me on the head and left with my belongings. Another one came over to me to put cuffs on my feet and he placed a white plastic bag over my head. I was choking, he left me in this condition. I thought he wanted to kill me, I really thought I was going to die.
Thankfully, someone heard me choking, and he came and tore the bag near my nose. One of them shouted “Who will give us a name now, we’ll let him go.” Of course, I didn’t give him any name; no one did.
Then, I heard the sound of an electric stick and it was really scary. I heard it many times in demonstrations, they use it to scare the people. One of them was using it and the sound was getting closer. Soon, it was my turn. He shocked me with it on my hip, though it wasn’t very painful thankfully (It was either not charged, they put it on a low level or maybe I didn’t feel it because I was still senseless because of my head trauma). I screamed really loud, faking the pain. He wasn’t very convinced that I was in pain, so he shocked me again, he pulled my shirt and shocked my directly on my waist. He continued his tour amongst the detainees. I was really annoyed about the plastic bag, so I tried to tear it with my teeth. I make a bigger hole and I was breathing well after that. Someone came and walked over us, he was trampling on us and saying “Wanna topple the regime?”.
Soon afterwards, they started moving us. Someone came and held my belt, lifted me up and walked to threw me into a bus. The men from the security forces were on the way to the bus and continued to hit us; again they were hitting me on my head. I heard some of them, I think their officers, reprimanding them and screaming, “Don’t hit them on the head!”
In the bus, I was lying over two men and they threw another guy on top of me. The man at the bottom was screaming, “Please, I’m choking! Please, I have asthma,” but they didn’t listen to him. I tried to move to make him feel better, but I couldn’t, I was totally cuffed. The guy over me was praying and he whispered to me to do so. I was doing this already. His face was the first I saw in there. I tried to be calm in front of him; he looked younger than me so I wanted to reassure him a little. They put a carpet over us and they were barley able to close the door. We took off again, it was a quick trip.
They got us out of the bus, one of them got me out and told me to move, but I was totally cuffed. I fell, he got angry. He told me “Stand up or I will beat you up”, I told me “I can’t!!”. He came to beat me, but he noticed that I was cuffed on my hands and feet. He said “Who did cuff him on his feet and put a bag on his head?”. He brought a knife and cut the cuffs on my feet, I think I was the only one cuffed on feet and with a bag on head. They lead us to some kind of small courtyard. They left us in the sun and started to do some paperwork, asking about our names, our age, our parents’ names and so on.
While I was in the sun, my head began to feel heavy and I started to teeter. I was very close to falling down; all I could see was a bright white light. My fellow next to me told me to, “fall down!” I didn’t want to in fear that they’d beat me up if I did, so I fought to stand. Moments after, a fellow moved a little for me to let me stand in the shade, so I felt better.
The man who was taking the information came to me. He asked me about my personal information. I heard some of my fellows make some mistakes and misunderstandings, and as a result, they were beaten up by him. Because of that, I tried hard not to make any mistake. Despite trying not to make mistakes, I did and ended up with a few punches. After that, they told me to go through a door. A man was inside, at the beginning, I was afraid of him, he was like real “Shabieh.” He was huge, with short hair and he had a beard. He told me to stand by the wall and removed the plastic bag from my head. I thought he was going to punch me, but he just took a picture of me. I returned back to the courtyard once the picture was taken. Once everyone’s personal information was taken, they told us to take off our clothes; everything but our underwear. We were then checked by a man to make sure we weren’t hiding anything. We were then taken to our cells.
Our cells were 5 by 2 meters. It was called a dual since they were made to accommodate two men, like double solitary. We were 24 men placed into one cell. We found two jars filled with water and we were very thirsty, so we drank the water even though it probably had been there for days. We could hardly sit down. Most of them were young, although there were some old and middle aged men. When I tried to sit, I found out that my knee was a little puffed and I couldn’t sit down well. After that they gave us our clothes back. I was very relieved when I found out that none of my friends were arrested, at least not with me.
We stayed in the cell for a few hours before they then came and took some of us. We didn’t know where they took them. We hoped that they let them go, but soon, they came back and took the rest of us. We were going to be investigated. They handcuffed and blindfolded each of us, after which they led us to a building in the compound. They left us standing in the corridor. It wasn’t a corridor inside the building, it was like a balcony. We were hearing the screams of some men that were being tortured. Some of my fellows were very afraid. Meanwhile I wasn’t that afraid, but I can’t say I wasn’t at all. I started to pray and ask Allah for his forgiveness and mercy, something that many of my fellows were also doing.
After around 15 minutes, they started to take us in for investigation, one by” one. Soon, it was my turn. A man led me through the corridor to another man sitting on a chair in the corridor. I was investigated outdoors, and at that time it was raining. He started the investigation by asking me about (respectively) my name, year of birth, my father and mother’s names, their ages, residence and, “HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO DARAA??”
I was really surprised by the last question. Although I have been to Daraa many times, including one visit just two months prior to my detainment, and after the protests began, I denied it. I told him I have never been to Daraa. He continued with the questioning. He asked me, “Why were you protesting?” I answered, “I wasn’t, they picked me up far from where the protest took place and after it was broken-up.” I then lied about what I was doing there, I told him I was buying stuff for home. He didn’t buy it and repeated the question, and I repeated the answer. He did that again and I didn’t confess. “So you have chosen the hard way,” he told me. He asked a man next to me to make me stand up and lead me to a room.
I noticed that there were some men talking to each other in there. Although I was blindfolded, I was able to see below the bottom edge of the blindfold. I saw some of my fellows there, sitting on the floor, in a circle whilst I was placed to sit in the center. Then that man (that was sitting next to me, not the investigator) came and told me to lie down on the floor, with my face to the ground and bend my legs to make 90° with my hips. The investigator asked me again why I was protesting and I denied the charge, so the other man whipped me on my legs. The pain reached my skull, the first whip was too painful. He was whipping me like I killed his father. After five minutes, I started to loss feeling in my feet. He continued to whip me like he did in the beginning, but it didn’t feel like the first whips. The sounds of the whip and my screams were too scary I think, I heard some of my fellow confessed because of it. The investigator told me, “Look at your friends, they are confessing and we will let them go. Do you want to confess?”, I told him “I didn’t do anything”.
So, this continued for about 15 minutes, sometimes he was changing the question, like, to what you were doing there? I was repeating the same lie. I became really tired, which he noticed, so he told the other man “I think he is ready now, bring him to me”. They took me back out to the corridor, where he asked me again “Why were you protesting?” I answered him “I wasn’t.” He got angry that time and told me “What were we doing in there? Do you want to return inside?” I replied “No, but that’s all I got.” He continued questioning me, the man that was sitting next to me was really annoying; he was hitting and whipping me all the time. He accused me of several charges, like violation of undeclared curfew (he told me every Friday, from 11am there is undeclared curfew in the city of Damascus), having communication with parties outside Syria, unauthorized protesting, having communications with NATO and calling for NATO to invade Syria (like I am the president of the USA and NATO forces are at my command), watching Aljazeera and Wesal TV channels and many others.
Of course, I denied all these frivolous charges. I think he thinks it’s frivolous too. I remember that he asked me many times who was with me that day, though I was with my cousin and four friends, I told him I was alone. He wasn’t convinced so he kept asking me that. After that, he told me “Let’s have a dialogue now, what are your demands?” After all the beating, the humiliation, making my feet four sizes bigger, he now wants to have a dialogue and listen to my demands? I really wanted to laugh, but I quickly remember where I was and forgot about it. “I don’t have any demands” I told him, I intended not to answer any questions he asked me, which made him crazy. Something came to my mind which I said without thinking. It was something about one of the “reforms” the dictator made to try to fool us; it was very silly and I was making a joke about it, but unfortunately, he found out that I was joking, so he started to beat me again, “It’s from his generosity, you idiot,” he said.
We continued the investigation with some other stupid questions. Finally, he asked me about my Facebook account. I told him I have one, so he asked me to give it to him. I was ready for this moment; I knew that they are very afraid of Facebook. They take the accounts of all the prisoners, so I made a fake Facebook account before. It was my name but it was not my real account. It was empty and I had some friends in it. I gave him the email and the password. He waited for a minute, after which he asked “And where is Facebook?” I was very confused about the question, not knowing how to respond. I told him that he can use this email and password to log into the account. He wasn’t sure, so he said “If you are lying, I will beat you up.” He asked the other man to remove the handcuffs and blindfolds so I can sign the statement and make sure that he write the email and password correct, after which he left so I couldn’t see him.
He gave me two papers which he told me to sign. “I want to read them,” I said. He looked at. me for a minute, punched me on the face and told me “Sign them, animal” I signed them, knowing that I had to, or things would get worse. He handcuffed and blindfolded me again, took me to my friends and led us to the cell.
I was the last one to finish, and came to realize I had the longest investigation. I was also one of the few that were beaten. Some of my friends confessed that they were in the demo and signed the statement. But they confessed in a good way, like “I was there and I saw them chanting so I liked it and walked with them.” None of us confronted them at all. I just wanted to go out, I wasn’t going to make a point if I defied them by telling them that I want to topple the regime, they are not going to be convinced. They are worshiping Bachar and nothing is going to convince them otherwise.
My cousin told me about a novel called “al-Qawqaah” mean “The Shell” by Mostafa Khalifa. He was in Tadmour prison for 12 years I think. He was charged of being in the Muslim Brotherhood, although he was Christian. His advise to the readers was to not confess any thing. He spent all these years and he was tortured a lot, but he didn’t confess to them. So I thought it was the best way. I found out that I was really annoying them for not confessing, so I determined to go on with this.
When we went back to the cell, we had the chance to talk and get to know each other. After an hour, they brought us dinner. It was some kind of soup with a huge amount of bread. The soup reminded me about the food in the Matrix movie they were eating on the ship. Then we had nothing to do until the next day, except talk and sleep. The guards enter the cell every now and then. They told us when they open the door we must stand up and head to the end of the cell with our faces to the wall. Every time they arrived, they picked two or three of us and beat them up very badly. Luckily, I was never picked.
I couldn’t sleep that first night, I was really tired. My back, neck, legs and head were in pain and I was sure that a long day in hell was waiting for me tomorrow, but I couldn’t sleep. I stayed up until dawn, at which point they let us out to use the WC. I cleaned myself a little especially my wounds. I tried to wash my shirt from my blood, but they wouldn’t let me. Finally, after returning from the WC, I was able to sleep for a while. After an hour, they brought us some breakfast; a plate full of green olives, which were very salty. I didn’t eat much because of that. We couldn’t ask them to give us water, we usually fill some bottles and the jars we found there when we go to the bathroom.
After breakfast, I went to sleep again. Some of my fellows stood up, so I could lie down to sleep well; they noticed that I didn’t sleep that night. After a few hours, they came and took some of us (by a list). I thought we were going out, but it turned out we were going to be investigated again. They took me to the same investigator, of course blindfolded and handcuffed; they were very afraid of the revolution succeeding, and that we would pursue them for revenge.
They took me to the same investigator and he remembered me. He was with another man in his office, they were talking about something. There was a desk, a bed and chairs and I remember that there was a TV. It was on Addounia channel, which is pro-Assad and spreading lies about the revolution. The other man left and he, the investigator, gave me a lecture about nationality and national unity, whilst walking back and forth and I was standing there in his office. Of course sounds of torture were coming from the adjacent office. I told him that we were never sectarian, and I have friends from all sects. He was carrying a whip in his hand which he used to whip me every time he walked near me. He asked me if I watched the national TV or Addounia TV. I replied “no”. He got very angry and gave me another lecture, the whip was working too. It was the same whip they used the other day, I found out later that it’s called locally, “Tank’s belt”.
Finally he said “You’re not going to confess?” I replied, “I have nothing to confess, I didn’t do anything wrong. I told you that yesterday and I signed the statement.” He got really angry this time and said, “Signed the statement?! You think I give a damn about the statement? I can tear it now in front of you. Are you going to confess?” I answered, “No, I told you everything I know.” He called a man from outside the office and said, “Take him to the electricity room, maybe he’ll remember something there.” The man froze for a minute. I know that he was playing me; they used this psychological war a lot in investigations, like, I heard you once as an eyewitness on Aljazeera, I saw you yesterday on TV in a demo, we got your friend buddy and he told us everything and so on. But I was very calm during the investigations and I knew that they had nothing but lies.
So he took me and left me near my fellows, where we stood there for a while. Someone came to me and called out my name. I told him my name, after which he said, “Come with me.” Here, I realized that he wasn’t joking. The man took me to another office, where there were two men. One of them said, “You are going to confess everything or we’ll never stop beating you.” He was very serious. He threw me and started to whip me. “Don’t waste our time, confess.” I told him, “I have nothing to confess, you are wasting your time.” He asked me, “What were you doing there?” I told him, “Like I told you for a thousand times, I was buying stuff for home.” Obviously, they didn’t buy it. He seemed very determined to break me and was very furious.
Suddenly, “Sir, we have someone that has given us false info. He told us he has never been detained. He was lying.” A man came to the office. “Bring me that son of *****, you (talking to me), get up on your feet.” It was very painful to stand up after being whipped, but the good thing about it is that the pain usually goes away fast and my feet return to their original size in about an hour. Thank God they didn’t use stick, the pain reach your bones and sometimes you can’t walk for days, especially if they use water. They make your feet wet and then use the wooden stick–don’t try this at home, really. They used it with one of my fellows in the cell once, it sounded very painful. It hurt us from his voice; imagine the pain my fellow was in. He told another man to take me to the cell. I was really happy because he forgot about me. I wish that I knew that man’s name, the man who came to the office said his name but I didn’t pay attention to it, because they were whipping me.
Back in the cell they brought us lunch. It was chicken with rice. The rice was good, but the chicken wasn’t; I only ate a bit. I didn’t have an appetite, my fellows also didn’t. 25 men and we couldn’t finish that chicken. They were very concerned about hunger strikes; this matter was very intolerable to them.
They warned us many times about that, but we didn’t eat much because we had no appetite, and the food wasn’t good enough to make us eat. I remember once for breakfast, they brought us fresh yogurt. It was very good and I ate a lot. Another time, they brought us boiled potatoes and a huge amount of tomatoes for dinner. The tomatoes were fresh, and they didn’t take them when we finished as they usually did. Every hour, I would eat one and my fellows did the same. Though we had to monitor what we ate and drank, because we couldn’t go to the bathroom whenever we wanted.
Usually, they let us go to the bathroom three times every 24 hours, after ever meal. Going to the bathroom was like a trip to us. Although the bathroom was the next room and every time they let us go to the bathroom they came with the whip to enjoy whipping us. We really enjoyed it and waited for it. Our legs were very tired from sitting down all the day. I could barely sit down, if my legs hurt me. I could stand up for a while facing an air stream coming from the tiny vent in the door of the cell. When we sleep, we sleep very randomly. Sometimes I woke up to see my friend’s leg was over me head. Our pillows were friends’ chests or hips.
The picture of the cell is still in my mind; I can remember every inch of it. When you open the door, you can see that someone wrote on the wall “Prison for men, stay a man”. On the right, in large writing, it was written “O Lord, your forgiveness and your freedom”. At the end, someone made a calendar in order to keep track of the date. Elsewhere on the wall, someone was counting his days in the cell; the number wasn’t reassuring to us. Many guys wrote their names on the walls. Unfortunately, we didn’t have anything to write with, although some fellows were able to write their names somehow. I wish I wrote my name there on one of the walls. There was a small window at the end of it. It was high and we couldn’t see anything from it. We could barely see if it was day or night. We could hear the sound of azan from the nearby mosque. I remember that on the door, someone scratch with his nails “O unjust, you’ll face a day”. That made me very optimistic. Also, there were to many cockroaches in the cell. First, we were not comfortable with them. But after sometime, we didn’t even notice them, they became as roommates to us.
My friends there were truly the best and finest guys I have ever met. Most of them were from Damascus, though there were two from Hama, one from Aleppo and some guys I don’t remember where they were from. But we were all arrested in the same place and at the same time. I don’t think you can meet these kinds of people in any prison in the whole world but the Ba’ath prisons of Syria.
At around 11pm, they came and took a little kid and released him. That was very reassuring for us; we were really happy for him. A few hours later, they came and took another kid too but we don’t know where they took him. That kid’s story was very sad. His father and uncle were detained too, for a long time. I heard them interrogating him once, threatening him, “I swear I will make you follow your dad.” I think he told me that he’s the only one left to his mother and she probably doesn’t know where he is. I really hoped that they have released him, as well as my fellows there too.
We were expecting them to let us go on Sunday morning, I told my fellows this because I heard that usually detainees from the city of Damascus stay that long. That day, they were late to bring the breakfast. We were very optimistic about that, until they brought us our breakfast later. We had nothing to do in the cell for the long periods of time were held in there, except to talk to each other, pray and sleep. I sometimes sang some songs like, “I have chosen you, my homeland” by Marcel Khalefa, or another one by him too called “Upright I walk”. The last one usually when they lower my head or when they grab me to take me to someplace. Of course, I wasn’t singing loud, mostly in my heart or quietly. In fact we couldn’t speak to each other loud. And when they heard us talking loud, they would come and teach us a lesson. We also couldn’t talk to each other about politics or revolution as there was a camera in the cell. After a few hours, since we had an empty space, they brought an additional guy in.
He was from Daraa, and he was arrested by security forces after they broke into his home. He was young and seemed sad. He told us that he didn’t go out to protest, though I think he was scared to tell us. He told us some of what happened there, but he told us that we will be free soon because we were in a cell. Usually they put wanted men in dorms, not cells. That was the best news we heard. Later that day, they brought us lunch, and later that evening, what we waited for and wanted to happen happened.
They came to our cell and took around twelve of us. Thank God I was among them. As we were exiting the cell, a man shouted “Take them to the dorm!” That was annoying, but I knew he was lying in front of the rest that were left behind. They led us through the corridor to the stairs. Throughout the time we were in the building detained, we were all handcuffed and blindfolded, but not that time. A man came to us and whispered, “You’re going out.” We wanted to jump of happiness. We were taken upstairs, at which point, our belongings were returned to us. Unfortunately, my mobile phone was stolen. They made us sign a commitment, which basically stated “I (name) pledge not to participate in unauthorized demonstrations or incite riots”. They were stunned by my signature; they gasped for a moment and said, “WOW.”
After that, we were told that if they caught us again, we will be held for 5-7 years. This time, they were very friendly to us, thinking we will forgive them what they did to us. An officer, I think, came to us and gave us another lecture. We got into the bus outside, which was waiting for us and they drove us away from the compound. They intended to drop us from the same area they took us from but I couldn’t bear to stay with them anymore. Meters away from the compound, I told the driver “Here is good for me, can we stop?” He replied, “Sure,” and he stopped. I was surprised to see all my fellows getting out from the bus and saying, “That’s good for us too, thanks very much!” No one could stand to stay with them anymore. The man next to the driver asked me if I have money to go home and I told him that I did.
I gave my shirt to one of my friends; his shirt was torn from being beaten. So I was there in the street, wearing an undershirt stained with blood, wide pants which I held up with my hands, no belt, and shoes without shoelaces. They took my belt and shoelaces to prevent me from committing suicide. I stopped for a moment to inhale the smell of Damascus, and people were looking at me knowing that I was there. I felt they were looking with two feelings, pity and pride. Pity for my condition at that moment and proud of what I had done. People in Syria look with respect to anyone who was in a prison.
I wanted to go to a friend’s house that was near me. He was with me that day so I wanted to reassure him and I really didn’t want to go home like this, for mom and grandma. But when I remembered them, mom and grandma, I took a taxi and returned home. On the way home, I asked the driver to use his mobile to talk to dad. I dialed the number but dad kept rejecting the call. I worried a lot, I tried many times but the same happened.
Some of my neighbors saw me, I think they knew where I came from. I knocked on the door, mom answered. Tears fell from her eyes when she saw me and, she hugged me very tight and kept saying “Alhamdulellah” means “Thank Allah”. Dad was the next, I kissed his hand. Then my uncle, he asked me to take off my shirt immediately before grandma saw me. She heard that someone came so she ran to the door. When she saw me like that, she couldn’t hold herself. She hugged me and nearly passed out. Mom got some fragrance to wake her up. I sat near her, though they didn’t tell her I was there, but she knew. They told my cousin I was out, so he rushed to grandma’s house.
At that night, I couldn’t sleep well. My wounds were still hurt, and my head, neck, back knees and legs were in pain too. In addition, I had many dreams about my time there. I woke up many times thinking that they entered the cell, or they want to count us and so on.
I think what the Syrian people are doing will inspire the whole world, children of the world will learn about our revolution in schools. We are risking our lives everyday to go out to protest, to demand our freedom. We lived in fear for 48 years and we found out that we were living in a delusion. The chains were unreal and the prison was made of smoke, we had to blow to discover this fact. We didn’t know that our regime is that weak. Just think for a moment; how strong we are and how weak they are so they are using tanks and warships against us. Using the army against the people is never a sign of strength, it’s a sign of weakness.
I’m proud of what I did, I will be to my last day. I have a reason to live now. Before the revolution, I didn’t have anything to live for in this country. Now, I have a battle to fight, I won’t allow my children to live like I lived, and I won’t allow them to die in front of my eyes while they’re demanding their freedom. I think I have too many stories now, for my children and grandchildren. We will never throw our freedom away after we’ve tasted it, and we will never betray our martyrs’ blood.
Although they made sure to break us in there, they couldn’t and never will. I’m ready to go out again, the only thing stands between me and the door is my family again. They are just worried about my safety. Mom has lost many children so she knows what it feels like to loss a child. She got sick when I was there, she’s taking anti-depression pills now.
My dream, I dreamed the night before I was detained, was that I was protesting near that same mosque. Suddenly, they , security, opened fire on us, the protesters. Some people started to run and others fell dead. I didn’t run, like every time I protested. I’m always the last one to escape the scene. People started to fall around me. I raised my right index finger alone and said what we, Muslims, say before dying, “Ishadu ala elaha ella Allah, wa ashhadu ana Mohammad rasoul Allah” meaning nearly “I bear witness there’s no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.” We believe if anyone could say that as his last words, then he did well in his life and will be in heaven. Right then I was shot and everything turned black.
For the fact, I was arrested in the exactly same location that I saw myself shot. When they gathered over me to beat me, I thought my dream was coming true. Although my time there wasn’t like I expected or heard, I didn’t want it to last a day longer. I didn’t want them to find out more about me. Protesting in the past or participating in activism is one thing, but there was something in particular I didn’t want them to find out. I can’t speak about it, not now. But I will, when they leave this country. All I can tell you about that is it’s something very bad for them but really good for me; in fact, something I’m proud of.
I didn’t mention my name, names of my cousin and friends, the mosque I went to, the area in Damascus I was protesting and arrested in, the name of the compound I was detained in, the date of my detention, many details in investigation and many events in my time there for my safety and for my family’s and my friends’ safety as well. Hope you understand and respect my reasons. Though, I promise to give my full story with videos of the demonstration and videos of them beating and arresting me when we get our freedom.
Huge thanks to @vinceperritano who made this article alive by his notes and advices, and many thanks to @A_Syrian_Soul who reviewed this article and took care of the grammatical side too.