Samer’s, a young man from the village of al-Rastan, the northern countryside of Homs, choice to stay at his area was not completely right for after he decided to go back to his former profession of car maintenance, a theft case was filed against him, due to which he got stuck at the maze of courts and the urge to verify his ownership of his own equipment.
Samer, 38 years old, says that he spent years, prior to the revolution, in collecting the money needed for buying his own equipment and starting his own maintenance shop, but his plan failed, for the break out of the revolution and the developments that ensued in the area have forced him to close the shop and do other works, such as becoming a driver of an ambulance.
Following the area’s opposition factions’ signing of a reconciliation deal with the Assad’s forces in May, Samer was among the people who decided to stay in the area, but one of his acquaintances filed a case against him, saying that the equipment at Samer’s maintenance workshop are not his, they rather belong to the “Civil Defense” in rural Homs, as Samer told Enab Baladi, who refused to reveal his full name for security reasons, saying that the case is “vexatious as a result of a personal dispute and has nothing to do with truth.”
This filed lawsuit is not the first or the last of its kind, for dozen similar cases have been filed in the areas where the reconciliation deals are signed with the Assad’s forces, in addition to other suits, relating to “looting, appropriation of houses, killing and criminal proceedings,” due to which the courts in Homs became entangled in the process of solving disputes and cases.
The majority of the cases are filed by the people who left the area after the opposition took it over and who returned when the Assad’s forces recaptured it.
The situation in Daraa is not very much different despite the fact that many official courts were not opened in the area, as a number of the Jabab village, Daraa, refused the return of the opposition troops who signed reconciliation deals to the area on the pretext that scores are being settled due to the death of many of the village’s people who served in the Assad’s forces’ lines and the loyalist local militias.
Incitement on the Part of the Syrian Regime
Following the Syrian regime’s control over the two governorates of Daraa and Qunitera, Southern Syria, people who are considered affiliates are inciting people to file suits against the former opposition personalities and fighters who sealed reconciliation deals.
Despite the Syrian regime and Russia’s reassurances that they will not be harassed in return for surrendering their weapons, the regime is utilizing people as a weapon for filing criminal and civil suits at the courts to subjugate the opposition figures, according to testimonies collected by Enab Baladi. The suits include charges of murder, possessions’ thefts and others.
While these suits might be real, others might not, to be thus seen as vexations.
In many areas, suits were not filed as the courts lack there, and a rise in the number of civil and criminal complains is expected once the courts are completely activated.
Complaints Increased 15 Times in Daraa
Saud al-Mohammad, the attorney general in Daraa, said that the number of the complaints increased 15 times in comparison to former numbers, most of which relate to murder crimes as a result of “the absence of the Syrian courts and the police apparatus in the conflict zones,” according to the regime affiliate “al-Watan” newspaper on August 13.
Al-Mohammad mentioned that soon the courts will be reactivated throughout Daraa governorate, Southern Syria, and that a judiciary compound will be opened at the city of Nawa.
As quoted by the newspaper, the Attorney General said that “the relatives of the murdered person are filing a complaint to the Public Prosecution Service against the offenders and the Service, for its part, files a suit against them,” adding that “this is how things are normally done, the murderer must not escape penalty.”
The reconciliation deal which those who wished to stay in the area signed provided for guarantees that the signees would not be prosecuted by security forces and under which the common right has been waived of the opposition leaders and troops. However, the deal includes all the signees’ approval to stand trails if disputes arise.
Vengeance or Taking a Right Back
The judge Ibrahim Hussian of the “Council of Free Independent Syrian Judges” said that the regime will not forget those who stood in its face and voiced the truth, even if the circumstances have forced it to show a degree of flexibility in some of the areas where reconciliations where conducted, stressing that the regime will wait for the right moment as to take reprisal against those he allured with reconciliation.
Hussian does not consider the Syrian regime’s reaction as “strange” because “it will find a thousand ways to punish them (opposition and factions’ leaders), and there is not an easier thing than resorting to the weapon of the law and the courts.”
In an interview with Enab Baladi, Hussian said: “I do not think that the aim of reopening the judiciary files is to satisfy its loyalists; the goal is practicing what it is used to through bending the laws and the courts as to revenge against its violators.”
Upon asking him about the reason why the regime delayed the move, he answered: “the regime was seeking to impose its control over several areas through the reconciliation agreements.”
The judge believes that if the regime has applied the penalty police through the courts earlier, it would have hindered the reconciliations in other areas, because the citizens would have seen how it is maneuvering what it is calling tolerance and pardon and would have been stricter about refusing the truce.
According to Hussian, in Syria there is not a healthy atmosphere for trials, especially in the shadow of the regime’s control over the judiciary authority and its confiscation of the courts’ independence.
The judge concluded saying the following: “since we accurately know the mechanisms which the regime resorts to via utilizing the legal texts as to penalize opposition figures, it will not hesitate from accusing them of the most hideous charges or distorting their image.”
Appeals, Threats and Reopening Criminal Records
Adham al-Akrad, a commander of the “Free Army,” who signed a reconciliation deal with the Syrian regime in Daraa, was threatened with criminal prosecution via a threatening message delivered to him that he posted on his “Facebook” page.
The “Sawt al-Asimah” (Sound of the Capital) network, which reports news from the capital Damascus, said that “the Criminal Security Branch in rural Damascus started to reopen the old files of young men from the city of Qudsaya, who signed reconciliation deals with the Assad’s forces.”
The network has quoted a source, it described as exclusive, as saying that about “200 names from the city, including members of the reconciliation committee, have become wanted for the Military Security Branch for different charges, and their names have been generalized to the checkpoints spreading in the area.”
In an incident similar to that of commander Adham al-Akrad, the Hama governorate’s representative member of the People’s Council of Syria Wadah Murad has appealed to Bashar al-Assad, the Head of the Syrian Regime, about the necessity to hold Omar Rahmoun accountable, who have reconciled with the Syrian regime despite his media activity against it.
On his “Facebook” page, on August 27, Murad posted the following: “Mr. President I received information that the criminal called Omar Rahmoun, who has returned to the bosom of the nation (after he understood that our Syria is victorious), have ordered the killing of Syrian citizens and his hands are contaminated with Syrian people’s blood. He is wanted for the Terrorism Court through a personal accusation filed by the dead people’s families and is imposing pressure on them, so they withdraw the accusation under threats.”
Murad also pointed out that the Military Security Department’s Head is the one who is protecting Rahmoun, accusing him of “receiving the price,” and demanding that Rahmoun be arrested and turned to the court.
Though the threats, the complains and the people, considered loyalist to the regime, are calling on families as to reopen the criminal records of opposition fighters and personalities, might vary, the results are all to the advantage of the regime whether these cases filed are done to satisfy its loyalists or to take revenge against its opposition.