Enab Baladi Issue # 85 – Sun, Oct. 06, 2013
Joudi Salam – Enab Baladi
“To Serve and to Protect” is a well-known police service slogan that we used to hear and see everywhere; in the media, on walls of the police stations, and on their badges.
This report on a policeman in Rukniddin Police Station in Damascus reveals otherwise, facts that may change your attitude towards police service in Syria if you believe they are “To Serve and to Protect”.
Female detainees are taken to Military Court Department, where they stay for a few hours, after being held in Syria’s underground detentions. Then they are being held in Rukniddin Police Station before they appear before Terrorists’ Court in the next day, and from there to Adraa Prison.
This journey to Rukniddin Police Station, or Abo Abdou’s Police station as it became known among detainees, is not a relief from the suffering of underground detention as some might think. “One day at Abo Abdou’s is much worse than a whole month in a military airbase detention”, says Samar, one of the detainees.
Abo Abdou is an average height and weight male, black hair, and “dirty” looks. It was confirmed by most of the detainees that we have met, that that his treatment is way worse than Shabbiha in Military Intelligence Detentions; he is following their steps in stealing detainees’ possessions and sexually harassing them.
The cost of staying at Abou Abdou’s exceeds staying at a luxurious hotel; a Falafel sandwich costs 1500 S.P, more than tenfold its actual price, and a phone call costs 2000 S.P. Seham, a detainee who was held for 20 hours at Rukniddin Police Station, spent 8500 S.P on two sandwiches, soda, and one phone call only.
Abo Abdou makes sure that the cell right next to his office where the female detainees are held is kept open. He calls on them one after another, harassing them in turns.
Mai, a female detainee who was held at Abo Abdou’s before being transferred to Adra prison, recounted her experience there; She became very scared when he called on her; there was no one in the building except them –the detainees- and Abo Abdou. He asked her about her life and about the time she spent in Mukhabarat detention; then her hugged her tightly claiming she needs to receive some affection after four months in detention away from her husband; and he will offer it to her generously.
Mai tried to push him away, and to escape his grip, pleading him to let her go without making much noise; she did not want other detainees to hear her. Finally he let go of Mai after his hands caressed her entire body, and called on Abir, another detainee who was also Mai’s friend.
Once Abir entered his room he asked her about the $500 in her handbag, and accused her of supporting terrorists financially. Then he tried to kiss her, so she offered him to take all the money and to leave her in return. Abo Abou took the money and let go of her.
Fatima, a young woman of strong personality, was called to Abo Abdou’s room at night; as he tried to touch her cheeks, she said sharply and fiercely “I was arrested for allegations of financing terrorists, and I have no problem being jailed for murder”. When Abo Abdou realized her courage, he returned her to the cell at once.
Other detainees reported that some of the prisoners were of “improper conduct” and used to spend the night in Abo Abdou’s room, and their laughter would fill the place.
Abo Abdou became the second part of the systematic plan to despoil detainees. Intelligence branches would steal part of the detainees’ money, and Abo Abdou would complete the mission, so that detainees would end up arriving at Adraa Prison empty-handed.
Some of the detainees tried to convey their suffering to members of FSA, who targeted the surrounding of the Police Station on Sunday morning June, 23. On the day of the bombing, seven detainees were held inside, one of them reported “All doors and windows were broken due to the impact, Abo Abdou was afraid that FSA might break into the building; he put on an explosive belt and shouted ‘let them get near and I’ll blow myself’…”. Targeting the police station changed nothing, Abo Abdou is still alive, and still harassing detainees. Female detainees were held in Bab Musalla Police Station for a week while Rukniddin Police Station was being repaired.
People have always expected such aggressive and unlawful conduct from ‘Shabbiha’, and blamed them for the corruption in the community. However, some policemen proved to be extremely cruel, adopting their own slogan “To Insult and to Abuse”.