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Saydnaya Prison is not part of a fantasy novel

Prison-Jail
[file photo]

I have waited long enough before writing about Amnesty International’s report that documents the testimonies of thirteen thousand Syrians who have been through various means of torture of a kind that we only ever used to hear took place in the early days of mankind.

I couldn’t find suitable words in the Arabic dictionaries to describe the horrific, chilling and shameful images that have been conjured-up for us. It is illogical for what’s happening to be in line with the concept of humanity in the modern era. How can we understand scientific and social developments through which human beings have been able to harness nature and utilise it to serve mankind in a positive manner, while at the same time we see a corresponding downward spiral leading to the destruction of human beings by tyrants who destroy all concepts of humanity as they force people into modern slavery?

The testimonies obtained by Amnesty International from those who survived the inhumane slaughterhouse make grim reading. “We slept on top of people suffocating to death,” said one survivor. Another talked about the sound of people’s bones when they were dragged away to be hanged. There is no difference in my mind between an animal which kills everything that comes its way and an executioner or torturer who thrives on the suffering of others.

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We are not talking here about a fantasy novel; Saydnaya Prison exists; it is real. This is no film script hoping to win a “best drama” prize to great applause. If it was, the value of the prize would be determined by the amount of pleasure viewers feel while watching torture, pain and suffering. No; this is the product of the death industry which seeks the most effective way to inflict pain on others.

All of Syria’s cities have a planned network of prisons in and around them, of which Saydnaya Prison is perhaps now the most notorious. Who would have believed that we Syrians have been living in the midst of this horror for more than four decades?

Western nations are shocked by our realities, but we will continue to have some faith in their collective conscience and direct our appeals to them until they realise that our criminal regime could not have remained in power if it wasn’t for the presidents and prime ministers in the West who lie when they say that they are advocates of peace and patrons of democracy. They have been drugged by their own authoritarian regimes which have sponsored Assad Senior and Junior in Damascus for decades.

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We say to the people that if you don’t know about the killing and torture by the Assad regime, ask your politicians, because they know everything that happens in our shattered country; what’s more, they support, cover-up and pay for the bloodshed. The Amnesty report about Saydnaya is only the tip of the iceberg. There are thousands of reports that have been documented by Syrians about the most horrible crimes imaginable committed by the Assad regime over the past six years, not only in prison cells, but also out in the open; we see them on our TV screens.

We will keep writing and documenting them until justice prevails and the criminals who have wreaked havoc and destroyed everything are held accountable for their actions. We will keep addressing Western consciences and we are confident that one day the people in the West will wake up. Remember, Saydnaya Prison is not something out of a fantasy novel; it is real; all too terribly real.

Translated from Al Araby Al Jadid, 15 February, 2017

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