Prisoner Siddqui Suliman Ahmed Al Maqt, 44, from Majdal Shams, a village in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights has been detained since 23rd August 1985. He was sentenced to 27 years in prison, when a large force, exceeding 300 armed Israeli soldiers, barged into his house, removed the door and stormed Siddqui’s bedroom. He was blindfolded, handcuffed and put in an army jeep, after the soldiers told his family that they had orders to blow up the house if there were any moves to resist. He was then taken to Julma, Akka and Ramla for interrogation. His arrest came twelve days after that of his brother.
Siddqui is believed to be one the oldest prisoners in the history of Syria, in addition to being one of a small group of detainees in the world who have spent more than twenty five years in prison. He was handed the Arab flag of “Dean of Detainees” by his brother who was freed in October of 2009.
Siddqui’s grandfather, Ahmed Al Maqt, a former revolutionary during the Great Syrian Revolution (1925), attempted to resist the Israeli occupation forces entering their home with the nothing but the aid of his cane. Siddqui’s grandfather had previously refused to take an ID card issued to him by the Israeli occupation forces – but following the arrest of his grandsons, he was forced to do so in order to visit them.
Whilst at school Siddqui established a nationalist resistance group called the “Secret Resistance Group”. Merging this group with that of his brother, they seized a number of grenades and land mines, which they planted on the roads leading to Israeli army camps.
During his court appearances in 1986, Siddqui, not intimidated by the court, refused to stand for the judge, saying, “I’m a Syrian Arab and you took my land and it is my right to defend it and resist you. I do not recognize the legitimacy of your phony court”. He went on to recite the Syrian national anthem which says “protectors of the home land, peace be upon you” before he was kicked out of the court room. Coincidentally the judge, who sentenced Siddqui, had also sentenced his father in 1968.
Siddqui is considered to be a leader amongst the prisoners, often making decisions on their behalf. He has been an active participant in struggles and protests within the prisons, including the 2004 hunger strike in Ber Shiva prison. He was the last prisoner to stop striking, after 150 Israeli soldiers forced him to walk whilst being beaten with sticks. His family visited him ten days after this incident and bruises from the beatings were obvious all over his body, despite this his morale was very high.
He suffers severe stomach and spinal pains as well as pains in his teeth. He is barred from seeing his brothers on the pretext of security grounds, and only his parents can visit him. His grandfather was able to visit him only once before he died in 1987. His grandmother died in 1989.
He was placed in solitary confinement over ten times and in open isolation for a year in the Ber Shiva prison in 2007, which was renewed every year, for writing an article about the Lebanese resistance. Israeli intelligence forces attempted to blackmail him by offering a release from isolation if he refuted the claims in his article.
A special committee of leaders was established in Damascus to discuss his situation and a group of Palestinian lawyers from the West Bank and Israel brought the case of his isolation before the Israeli military courts until he was released from isolation.
Prisoner Siddqui’s name is on the Israeli intelligence black list, meaning that his name is always removed from release lists, but despite it all, he remains steadfast in his challenge.