The “presidential pardon” included detainees from Daraa… and families looking for their relatives in Damascus

Ex-prisoners tell Asharq Al-Awsat the bitterness of torture

Dozens of residents of Daraa governorate have been released from Syrian prisons, most of whom were released from Sednaya prison, according to the decree issued by President Bashar al-Assad.

According to activists in Daraa, the detainees who have been released so far, including those who were arrested before the area was subject to the settlement agreement in 2018, and others were arrested after the settlements, then the application of the Terrorism Law, despite the settlement agreement in 2018. The years of detention of the released multiplied. In Daraa, some of them spent 7, 5 or 4 years, amid absence and arbitrary arrest, and some of them were released in poor health.

M.M. was recently released from detention from Sednaya prison, after the amnesty decree issued in Syria. The young man (32 years old), from the city of Daraa, recounts details of the story of his detention for more than 3 years in the prisons of the Syrian regime and security branches in the city of Damascus, and his being subjected to insults and torture, which were imposed on him and other detainees who were with him in the detention centers.

Families display pictures of their relatives in front of a detainee released from Sednaya prison (social media platforms)

The bitterness of his story appears from the thinness of his body and the skin suppurations on his limbs. He narrated from his story the so-called “reception party” among the jailers in the Syrian prisons, a campaign of torture in which the willing members of the security branch to which the newly detainees are transferred, and each time he was transferred To a security branch, he and the rest of the detainees had to attend this party, which ends with blood flowing from their bodies, tears of pain and cries that do not receive an echo. “Suddenly,” he says, he found himself behind the bars of the Syrian regime’s detention centers in the Air Force Intelligence branch in Harasta, Damascus, on various charges, while passing a military checkpoint. After the settlement agreement, he decided to visit a doctor in Damascus, and he had settled his situation in the city of Daraa in 2018, after he was a former fighter in one of the opposition factions, but he was subjected to major charges and a ruling in the terrorism court, and he was imprisoned in Sednaya prison two years ago.

He says, “I signed all the confession papers for the charges they said, which they wanted under torture and beatings. Until the last release, the jailers and prison officials deliberately insulted us with words, and kindly left the prison with the kindness of President Bashar, as they described it to them.” He said that they signed papers pledging not to engage in terrorist acts, and some of them were stripped of their civil and military rights in Syria for a period of years that varies from person to person according to the charges against him.

On the other hand, Amer has been waiting for his father’s departure for years, “hope has returned to our home” and to be alive, even if he has lost his memory. As he put it to meet his father, after a 10-year detention,

Amer is a young man in his thirties. He says: “10 years ago, they arrested my father, who was returning from work, and my father had no political orientation or involvement in the events that took place in Syria, and he used to go to his job in one of the state departments, only to be surprised by his arrest. The procrastination and prevarication in revealing his fate have been going on for 10 years, even without us seeing him or being sure of his whereabouts yet.” They are from a poor family. “We cannot pay the sums of money that an officer and members of the Syrian security were requesting to help us find out the fate or whereabouts of my father.”

He says, with a sigh in his eyes, every time detainees come out, “We start the process of searching and investigating my father, and every time we taste the agony of disappointment, and we hope this time that he will return, and that there will be an international reaction that pressured the Syrian regime after the random liquidation broadcast by the British Guardian newspaper.” In a video, a member of the Syrian regime is shown liquidating 41 people in the Tadamon area in the capital, Damascus. Opponents said it was a process of liquidation and revenge carried out by Syrian security forces against civilians in Damascus. Amer’s condition while waiting for his father explains the situation of many people from Daraa and Syria who have suffered the horrors of war, arrest, and enforced absence.”

Activist Muhannad Al-Abdullah said, in his interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, that hundreds of families in Daraa are waiting after the presidential pardon decree for the detainees, for their sons to be released from detention, and some of them left for Damascus in search of their detainees, perhaps finding them, after the departure of many with no memory, and some of them from He has been looking for more than 10 years, amid a trend from families to lawyers to inquire about the fate of their detained sons.

Regarding the possibility of its inclusion within the amnesty recently issued in Syria, which stipulated granting a general amnesty for terrorist crimes committed by Syrians, he said: “It is not clear the numbers of those released in Daraa governorate until now, and dozens of people from the cities and towns of Daraa governorate have started to leave prisons since the beginning. From this May, and a large number of those released in Daraa governorate, their families had registered the names of the detainees with the Russian side when the settlement centers were opened or during the tours that the Russian forces were conducting in the settlement areas.”

Activists in Syria circulated pictures on social media platforms, which they said show the extent of the suffering experienced by the Syrians and the large numbers of detainees in Syria. The release of their detained sons, who were included in the presidential pardon decision.

The Ministry of Interior in Syria called on citizens, in a statement to the semi-official newspaper “Al-Watan” in Syria, to “not wait” under the “President’s Bridge” area or anywhere else to meet their families; The ministry did not allocate any specific place to collect the released persons who were included in the amnesty, noting that a large number of the released have left the prison by taxi or by other means. She emphasized that everything published on some pages about gathering dates and areas is unfounded.

For its part, the Ministry of Justice in Syria announced that during the past two days, hundreds of prisoners arrested from various governorates in Syria have been released, provided that the procedures for releasing the detainees are completed, which are procedures between the Criminal Court of Terrorism and the Public Prosecution at the Terrorism Court, in addition to a number of The detainees whose decisions have been challenged, and the Special Chamber of the Terrorism Court will take over the order for their release within the next two days. The Ministry of Justice also confirmed that all prisoners covered by the amnesty decree will be released successively in the coming days.