Tal al-Mallohi’s name should go down in history, the heroes of freedom are not just a number. The released female detainees should take their place under the sun, and their names, faces, countries must not be forgotten, including Tal al-Mallohi and her fellow liberated detainees. Yet, there are another 4,300 female detainees still waiting in the cellars of the Syrian regime.
Journalists and human rights sources in Syria have reported that a court order was issued to release the Syrian activist, Tal al-Mallohi, as a part of a deal, struck a few days ago, to release female prisoners in Syrian prisons in exchange for captured Lebanese individuals.
A human rights source also reported that 3 female prisoners were released today as a part of the prisoner exchange deal, while Tal al-Mallohi was transferred to the National Security Bureau, in preparation for release tonight or tomorrow at the latest.
The deal would not have been made without al-Mallohi. The major-general of the North Storm Brigade, associated with the Free Syrian Army, insisted on listing Tal’s name in the deal, but the regime decided to release her in a manner that saves its face, something it loses day by day. They had the criminal court in Homs relieve al-Mallohi of a quarter of her original sentence (5 years imprisonment) and immediately release her, in what would appear to be a judicial pardon and unrelated to the exchange deal. She had served almost 4 years in prison, was detained in December 2009, a month after her 18th birthday.
Tal al-Mallohi’s story started when she was summoned to the air force intelligence office in 2006, when she was 15 years old, after she urged Bashar al-Assad to expedite the democratic transition process in Syria.
Tal al-Mallohi said, “as a president his position requires him to put an end to rampant corruption”, reminding him “of the promises he made.” Tal used her full name in the appeal, which was later deleted from the website’s archive, however, two other websites posted the appeal, and in 2007, Tal was summoned to security three more times.
On February 21, 2009, Tal was summoned to the Syrian embassy in Cairo and was questioned (her parents were not allowed to be present during the questioning) and was asked for the names of Syrians she knew abroad. She was warned against publishing or communicating with any websites or newspapers. In July 2009, she returned to Syria, after her father had decided to move back after having left to live in Cairo. She remained in Syria, rarely updating her blog, and even when she did, most of her posts were about Palestine, which the Syrian regime supports its resistance against occupation. She had been in Syria 5 months before being arrested by the general security directorate in Damascus on December 27, 2009.
One day later, the Syrian security forces raided her home and seized her computer, CDs, and books, and she remained isolated from the outside world for a long time, and her own family knew nothing about her.
The young woman was taken away from her parents and was prevented from taking her high school exams. Every time her parents tried to check on her in the detention centre, they were curtly told she was fine by junior officers or security guards.
Activists have reported that in April 2010, the family were informed that Tal was brutally tortured from the time she was first detained until the end of February 2010, at the very least, and was only stopped because she was on the verge of death. It is believed that she was transferred to the intelligence agency headquarters in June, but her family only learned of this in July 2010.
Shortly before the start of the Syrian revolution, on February 14, 2011, Tal al-Mallohi was sentenced to 5 years in prison on charges of giving information to foreign countries, including the U.S, as an attempt to justify her imprisonment to the world.
It is worth noting that in September 2011, over 4,000 people signed a “Free Tal al-Mallohi” petition, including political and human rights activists in Egypt, Syria and a number of other regional and international countries.
In accordance with the prisoner exchange deal, the Syrian regime released 48 female prisoners in exchange for the release of 9 Lebanese individuals captured by the general of the north storm brigade in the city of Azaz. The general also confirmed that the deal dictates the release of 148 female prisoners detained in Syrian regime prisons.
It is ironic that the general of the north storm brigades, who made the deal, was attacked by the Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant, resulting in the death of 5 members, including the journalist Hazem al-Azizi, in an unexplained action on the part of the al-Qaeda supporters in Syria. The free Syrian brigades and its members are confused by al-Qaeda supporters recent continued aggression against them.
Tal al-Mallohi’s name should be remembered, the heroes of freedom are not just numbers. The released female detainees should take their place under the sun, and their names, faces, and countries must not be forgotten. Tal from Homs, Amena and Mary from Lattakia, Maha from Damascus, Hiyam from Kafr Shams, Ghadeer from Al-Suwayda, Raneem from Idlib, Fatima from Hama, Mayyada from al-Hasaka, Ebtessam from Duma, Amani from Al-Madamia, Amani from Arbin, Mazinah from Jobar, Feda from Deir Salman, Haya from Dara’a, Manal from al-Sanmeen, and 4,300 other female detainees still waiting to be freed from the cellars of the Syrian regime.