Mazzeh Military Airport
Ahmad Jamal Addin: Memories of a political prisoner
Enab Baladi Issue # 81 – Sunday August 8, 2013
During his long detention, Ahmad and other prisoners were subjected to torture in all its types and forms. They have shared times of pain and faced the ugliest methods of torture during interrogations.
Ahmad has witnessed horrible images of torture, including “physical beating using sticks, batons and weapons, exposure to sever cold water in bitter weather conditions, deprivation of food, water and drinks in addition to stealing their daily meals”, and deprivation of “underwear, soap and washing powder during detention”. Lots of prisoners were “forced to stay half-naked since their cloths were ripped during the investigation”.
Ahmad reported “other cruel ways of torture, such as; electric shocks, the use of cigarettes or charcoals to burn prisoners’ limbs and faces, the detention in cells that are dirty, full of moisture and lack air and sun which can lead to infectious diseases, and failure to provide treatment to the wounded and the sick”. In addition, “all sources of air were being blocked to increase the stuffiness of the room”.
Torture in the prisons of Al Assad’s regime has never been rare or exceptional, and the multiple forms of physical and mental exercises have led to huge numbers of deaths.
Ahmad also described the prison authorities’ reaction in the cases of death. He said that ‘when a detainee dies, he gets partly undressed, covered in nylon, kept jailed for a few days and then thrown in the middle of nowhere or put in a tomb’- as claimed- “while some bodies could be thrown at military checkpoints, others may be buried in mass graves at Mazzeh military airport”. “Each body is labeled with a name based on questioning other prisoners in the cell, but names are never checked on accurateness”. Therefore, lots of prisoners were wrongly reported dead to their families”.
Ahmad reported several cases of sick or injured prisoners killed under tutor, either on the way to military hospital or once they arrive there.
The most common method of torture is called “alshabh” (hanging the victim from the ceiling by the wrists so that the his toes barely touch the ground or he is completely suspended in the air with his entire weight on his wrists, causing extreme swelling and discomfort), where prisoners are hanged by hands and feet in the air for a few days with many painful forms of beating. Another brutal way is known as “Falqa” (beating the victim with sticks, batons, or whips on the soles of the feet) without any consideration to the prisoner’s age or health situation. Plus, investigation is always accompanied with the use of obscene and degrading insults.
“The food was dreadful, the worst kind of punishment we ever had, we were repeatedly given very bitter olives in addition to soup which can be anything but soup and some rice or bulgur”. And with each meal “we made an economic analysis of the situation in whole Syria based on the type of food provided”.
Ahmad described how prisoners treat each other inside the cell; he said “once a detainee arrives in our cell, or returns after an investigation or a torture session, we help him recover by saying nice words which is the only way available! We also recite Quranic verses that we already know, we pray using our eyes in order not to be reported to the prison authorities by some spy prisoners in our cell. We also celebrate our birthdays by just saying: “May you always be free”.
Ahmad added “I’ve never forgotten the scenes when a jailer calls someone in our cell saying ‘you’re released’”. It becomes a celebration moment and everybody runs to this prisoner to give him their home addresses and families’ mobile numbers; so that the families make sure prisoners are alright.
Ahmad finally said that “the best friendship and brotherhood one can make is in detention. One might never obtain such strong relationships outside. What a detention that releases strong-willed men”.