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Survivors recount horror tales of Syrian prisons

July 3, 2019 at 8:00 pm

The travails of three women, 38-year-old Refeyda Zeytun, her sister and mother began at a hospital in Haresta region in the Syrian capital of Damascus, after her mother was injured in an airstrike, Anadolu reports.

Instead of treating them, they were arrested by Syrian regime forces, on suspicion that a male member of their family had joined the opposition groups.

Zeytun, along with her sister and paralyzed mother, were released after spending two years in Syrian detention. Replete with details of custodial torture perpetuated by regime forces on hapless women, her account provides a glimpse into Bashar al-Assad’s ruthless policy to silence dissent in the country.

“We had arrived in the hospital in the hope to treat our mother. But were soon held as the regime wanted to know whereabouts of my brother. They wanted to use me, my mother and my sister, to make my brother surrender,” Zeytun told Anadolu Agency.

After spending 11 months at the Haresta hospital under detention, they were taken to Hatib security department in Damascus. They spent eight months in the department along with 40 other women.

Zeytun recalls heart-rending scenes, when the regime forces would forcibly separate mothers from their children. The shrieks of wailing mothers and their crying children, who could probably never see each other again, haunts her memories.

READ: Syrian woman recalls regime jail torture, rape threats

“They held us with the other prisoners for a month. Then new prisoners came to the branch where we stayed… Most of them were children. They separated the children of women in our ward. We learned that the children were taken to orphanages,” said Zeytun.

All ladies were detained just because of their relatives.

“One day when we started hunger strike to clear our position, a colonel came. But instead of listening, he threatened us with rape, if we did not end the strike.”

Finally, Zeytun and her family were later taken to Adra prison in Damascus, where they were lodged for five months.

After spending 12 days in this prison, they were taken to a special court hearing for terror related cases in Mezze – a municipality in southwest of central Damascus. Despite the judge admitting that they were not guilty, he refused to order their release.

“We were 13 people. I appeared before the court with my sister and bedridden mother,” she said.

“The judge enquired about my brother and then said ‘you are not guilty, but will not be released’,” said Zeytun. She, along with her mother and sister, spent another five months in prison, before being released.