Siria, paura di essere arrestati

Civili siriani fatti prigionieri dagli shabbiha, Al-Bayda, Aprile 2011“Paura di essere arrestati” è un testo esemplare, pubblicato in inglese lo scorso agosto da Jadaliyya, su una delle colonne del sistema repressivo del regime siriano. Si tratta di una testimonianza diretta e dettagliata che rimane attuale anche a distanza di tre mesi.

Qualche scettico potrà dire che il testo è un falso. Che è tutto inventato, oppure che, come la finta blogger Amina, l’autore si è ispirato a qualche aneddoto reale per costruire uno scenario romanzato. La fonte, Jadaliyya, è però autorevole e i suoi curatori sono onesti. Se gli scettici hanno le prove della mendacità del contenuto che segue, ci scrivano le loro argomentazioni. Tra introduzione del traduttore e testo vero e proprio la lettura richiede del tempo. Ma arrivare fino in fondo non sarà però difficile. Buona lettura.

The author of the following text is anonymous. But his deeds have rocked the foundations of our world in Syria. He is one and he is everyone. I don’t know his whereabouts. He is probably already dead or in prison. Or maybe he is still roaming the streets of cities and towns in Syria trying in all earnestness to get the frame of his next picture right where it is supposed to be.

At this very moment I imagine him cursing his laptop because it froze a few seconds before the video was successfully uploaded; or struggling to figure out why his Skype cannot work with the new VPN software even though he was told that it should configure itself automatically. But he could very well be spending the night in the basement of al-Mukhabarat headquarters in Kafar Soussa: unable to stretch his leg in the crowded prison cell, unable to rest his back because his wounds from the afternoon beating session are still burning and bleeding; unable to close his eyes because the screams of tortured bodies are whirling in his head like a tornado. But wherever he could be, he knows that he has already won.

I picked up the text from one of the Facebook pages administered by a “local coordination committee” in one of the neighborhoods of Damascus. The text is written in colloquial Arabic. I could tell that he is probably in his early twenties with a clear Aleppo accent. On how a youth from Aleppo ended up in a Damascus neighborhood we can only speculate. Few sleep in their houses these days or in the same place for long.

The text has this ordinary, almost technocratic, quality that makes it extra-ordinary considering the circumstances. It is not written for political propaganda. It does not theorize, it does not make too many claims, it is not poetic, or confessional. The author addresses his “buddies” to neutralize the effect of a paralyzing fear of arrest that may have made some of them too cautious to participate in demonstrations. The rhetorical posture is descriptive. His goal is to demystify the experience of arrest as an antidote to fear.

The premise of the text is that his destined reader should expect arrest and torture, and should therefore stop wasting time to avoid it. The fact that one is arrested has nothing to do with the relative strength of the Mukhabarat. It has also little to do with how cautious you are. A revolution is taking place, and if you are there in the regime’s field of projections of power, arrest is a matter of time — an absurd game of probabilities. Knowing what an arrest entails will make it more bearable, and the fear of it less debilitating.

There is an immense distance separating you, the reader of this translation, and the author of the original text. There is perhaps an even more inexhaustible distance that separates me, a native speaker, who is presumed to share a “hermeneutic environment” with this author. This distance is not about culture or language, or any other plausible marker of identity.

I translate this text not to bridge or mediate difference, but to paint the horizons of our distance. I translate because the work of translation on a text is like the dream work in psychoanalysis — a desperate attempt to represent an experience when words are at the edge of language. I translate this text because translation forces me to interrogate his words, to explore a consciousness from afar, the way scientists interrogate the many shades of light picked up from a distant star in the hope of understanding a cosmic event.

The distance is this — for you and me this text is an artifact, something that I have the luxury to write about and for you to gloss over while sipping your coffee. But for our anonymous author this text is a catalogue for survival. A great deal hinges on whether his destined readers can in fact shed their fear of “it”– because their fear might kill him, because our silence is killing him, because “whomever engages in half revolution, he would be in fact digging his own grave.”

Our middle class, liberal cosmopolitanism struggles with a text like this. Our author is irrational, in exactly the same way as when we understand why no single rational maximizer in a competitive context will choose to bear the cost of building and operating a lighthouse. Our author is unethical, because in Syria we all know that the consequences of merely playing a tune in a public garden thousands of miles away is the pain and humiliation inflicted on your beloved by the infamous pro-regime thugs for hire—the shabbiha. Because you know that if you are arrested by a security branch, and your dead body turned up a couple of days later showing the traces of torture, your father will be intimidated, beaten, and humiliated until he agrees to go on state-run TV to “thank” the President for it and to plead for more stringent treatment of those infiltrators.

It is unethical that is to the extent that we know that the consequences of our “irrational” actions will be suffering inflicted on others who chose to act rationally. And yet, in his mind, more people should take the streets. There is one additional move he makes that is inaccessible to us. Our author knows the relative weakness of one individual before the security apparatus of the regime. He is resigned to the idea that during arrest, his interrogator can break his bones; heal them, to break them again. His arrest could be hours, could be decades. Our author knows all that, and he understands that during his arrest there is nothing he can do about it. He is resigned in his fear. But something paradoxical happens at that very moment of the resignation of his intellect. His will refuses to surrender because he believes — because in some surreal way he knows that he has already won. In our liberal cosmopolitan comprehensive worldview, our author’s final move is absurd. It is absurd to believe that a peaceful protest can bring down a regime. But where we are inclined to stop on the force of the absurd, our author moves on. He understands the meaning of what is absurd, and he grasps his next move by secular faith.

The distance, to re-iterate is one between the resignation of a whole generation, and his “fear and trembling.” It is between what Kierkegaard called the “knight of resignation” and the “knight of faith.” It is crossed silently, instantly, almost the way a ray of light activates the few sensitive cells of the macula. Faith, Kierkegaard says, “is no aesthetic emotion, but something far higher, exactly because it presupposes resignation; it is not the immediate inclination of the heart but the paradox of existence.”

We cannot speak for him. We can only admire him. Before proceeding to the text, few remarks about this translation.

The text is written in a colloquial language that is difficult to translate. I hope the bi-lingual reader would indulge my inability to bring in full force the nuances of the text. I have opted to keep some words in Arabic transliteration. This is particularly the case when discussing methods of torture used in Syrian prisons. In the remaining space of this note, I shall explain these words.

In the late 1980s, Amnesty International documented approximately thirty-eight methods of torture, pervasively and systematically used in Syrian prisons.[1] From the many accounts of what is happening in Syrian prisons during the revolution, it is obvious that the cruelty and systematic spread of these practices did not abate during Asad Jr.’s reign. The following methods were mentioned in the text:

dulab (tire): “hanging the (detainee) from a suspended tire and beating him/her with sticks, clubs, cables or whips”;

falqa: Beating the soles of the feet;

bisat ar-rih (flying carpet): Strapping the victim to a piece of wood shaped like a human body and either beating him or her or applying electric shocks all over the body. The description of Bisat Ar-Rih  provided in the text makes it look more like a hybrid with al-kursi al-almani (the German Chair).  This method described in the 1980s consists of “a metal chair with moving parts to which the (detainee) is tied by the hands and feet. The backrest of the chair bends backwards, causing acute hyperextension of the spine and severe pressure on the detainee’s neck and limbs. The author describes a device that is used to create pressure on the spine and neck accompanied with the beating all over the body.

The text reads as follows:


A lot of our freinds are becoming paranoid and afraid of the reach of the hands of Al-Mukhabarat.

They constantly feel as if the Mukhabarat private is waiting behind the door, under the bed, or about to hack into their facebook accounts. They have four fictitious accounts, six pseudonyms and they only participate in demonstrations when it is a safe thing. Like some kind of aristocrats! Why do they do all that? Because they do not want to get arrested. Really?! If that is the case, then you can kiss this revolution goodbye. And so we will write what could happen to you if you get arrested, and what you need to know to prepare yourself. I pray god to inspire me to write all that correctly.

OK, here we go in the name of God we start:

Arrest is never as scary an experience as many might suspect. Arrest is a medal that you will wear on your chest, and one whose stories you will tell to your children.

Arrest is a mixture of a strange, unknown, honorable and incredible experience. The more diverse the circumstances of your arrest, the more extended your stay, and the more people you meet, the richer and more exciting your experience will be . This is why it is important that you do not forget to write your account as soon as you are out.

When you get caught the unknown will terrify you. But be reassured. The most difficult part has already passed–these are the moments of arrest and the first beating. Try in moments of calm to regain your self-confidence and to raise your own morale, and to enjoy while you are receiving this honor — because there isn’t much time left until this regime will fall, and you may not get another round.

In prison try to adapt to every thing except to the humiliation and to the blasphemies that you will hear. Pray — no matter in what position — and try to keep your relationship to God strong –spirtuality will be very high when your soul is completely bare.

And so we begin:


First of all you may be arrested from home or during a demonstration.

From Home

They will confiscate a lot of things and they will search the house really thoroughly. If you have any suspicious items like spray paint, leaflets, pepper spray, hide them in the roof or in the basement or anywhere else.

They will confiscate the computer, your laptop and mobile phone, your camera, passport, ID card etc. Relax! Everything will be returned. They will not take anything for good. Seriously, I am not kidding.

If you are caught from home this means that one of your freinds or acquaintances has been caught before you, and had to give your address under torture.

Or it is possible that your excellency did not use the well known safety measures when using the internet or your mobile.


What I have seen during my arrest, which lasted for one month, and after mingling with many people who were interrogated by different interrogators, is that the interrogators are completely out of touch when it comes not only to Facebook but the whole internet, if not computers also.

But the interrogator will tell you: Now the “engineer” or the “specialist” will come. This one will also be a donkey but from a different breed :) they will call him only to scare you.

The engineer or the specialist: he is most probably a high school graduate and may understnad a little, he may be a graduate of a technical school or an employee in telecommunication. Perconally I did not think he understood anything like an engineer would.

The specialist asked me once for passwords … unfortunately I did store them once in a file that I deleted, but with file recovery, the file was dicovered and I was not able to hide anything.

You can take them for a ride as you feel like it, especially if you felt that the reason for the arrest has nothing to do with the net or hacking; this means that they have no clue what accounts you have.

Incidently, my passwords were with the “specialist” and he was unable to enter my account and he brought me many times thinking that I was fooling him — so this is how tech-savvy they are.

It would be a good idea that you give the password for your ficticious facebook account to one of the guys that come with you to the demonstrations or to your brother so that when you get arrested he will immidiately access facebook and clean the account completely.

The inspection of your account on facebook will take time; I imagine it could be a coulple of days. During that time they will interrogate you orally — and whatever scenes horrible to the regime you have published, it will not change much for them; perhaps the guys are getting used to it by now.

La conchiglia di Khalife, tradotto in francese (2007)Example: Before the revolution, I made a video for publication and I deleted it because it was not well done. They recovered the file and landed in the hands of the interrogator, and I refused to confess about this film–not heroically–but because I did effectively forget about it. The interrogator brought me and brought a laptop and played the scene and it was horrible with direct speech against Hafez and Bashar (and note that it was before the revolution). I thought that they would skin me, but at the end nothing really came out of it :) only the regular beating like every day and then “drag this dog to the cell.”

The important thing, and we return to the “specialist”, he will take the laptop, the mobile, and the camera (if confiscated) and he will inspect for any materials that might be of interest to them.

The Mobile

Erase all Islamic, struggle, and revolutionary chants, and all the private pictures of your family because the Mukhabarat are just scounderls. Erase or change all the suspicious names of your freinds, such as Abu Qoutada, Abu Obada, Abu Al Q’aq’a that is any name that sounds Islmaic, or names that refer to “revolution” and any derivative word.

Inspect your pictures to verify that they do not contain anything that might draw their attention, such as the picture of a street or a neighborhood.

Do not keep anything that has to do with the revolution, whether it is a demonstration a caricature, a song, a slogan, etc.

Do not forget to delete the call log after every call. Although, if they take the trouble they can get the call log, and messages log from the Makhlouf company. In any case, do what you have to do and erase.

Concerning messages, erase whatever might be used against you. In any case, if messaging ever happens between the revolutionaries, it get erased on the spot.

Your mobile now should be clean. Correct? No! Wrong!

Because it is very easy to retrieve data from the memory card. Therefore, and in order to get your peace of mind with respect to the camera and the mobile, change the memory card. Hide the old one in a hole in the ground, or under some tree, even on the surface of Mars. Do this even if the memory card has nothing about the revolution. You really do not want these scoundrels to see the pictures of your family.

I did address the camera. The issue will be solved with the memory card.

The Computer or the Laptop

They can recover data. Try to format and fragment your drives to make sure that the data are truly erased. Set your internet browser NOT to keep browsing history or cookies. In all cases, use Chrome Google’s invisible browser to get some peace of mind.

Facebook and Passwords

The specialist will ask you about passwords. If you are a university student he would not buy that you do not have an account, especially if you were caught through Facebook or if a friend of yours was caught before you and he talked.

Maintain two accounts: One normal and peaceful as if the revolution is taking place in Mozambique. When asked you will confess that you have a facebook account and show this account to them. It would have your real freinds and you log in everyday to chat normally. The second account is where you do all the real work under a pseudonym without any personal information. Of course none of this is any news to you.

On your normal account use an ambiguous profile picture, like the picture of the flag with blood on it, or expressions of grief, etc.  But do not exagerate, you do not need to put the picture of a frog.

After all this time, they have probably accumulated some expertise in Facebook, and these tricks will not get past them. Here a fundamental question presents itself: What information can I hide, and what information would I have to divulge under pressure by hook or by crook?

“The Golden Rule”

You can keep to yourself and hold on very strongly to every information bit that no one other than you knows, or information that only you and another person impossible for them to reach know. Never divulge that information easily. And so where is the problem? The problem is that if you get arrested from your house, you would not know how they got to you. Did they get to you through Facebook? A snitch? One of your freinds was caught before you, etc.? Here you have to use your ingenuity to deduce how they got to you from the interrogations.

Example: The smart-ass interrogator asked me once about one of my old friends. This old friend and I both knew another friend with whom I did some coordination before the revolution. I concluded from this question that this common friend was caught before me, and he was the one that spoke about my old friend. And so I managed to figure out how they got to me and I behaved on that basis.

From the Street

If you get arrested from the street, you will receive a bad beating at the moment of arrest. In all honesty, I do not know how they will treat you when you are first taken to the security branch. If they have arrested you from the house, they will tell your family that it is a matter of a half-hour, some questions and answers, or mere verification.

When you arrive to the security branch, they will start talking nicely to you (like what happened to me) a man-to-man conversation. They will make you feel safe and secure. Be careful! Do not be fooled and become enthusiastic to give them everything you have.  In a short while, they will start the real interrogations and they will pick it up from where you stopped.

Every time they take you from the prison cell to the interrogation, the prison guard (i.e., a security private) accompanying you will speak to you. He will whisper in your ears with the voice of the merciful, compassionate, and advising father: “Confess my son! I swear you will feel relieved. Listen to me! Everyone brought to this branch, ended up forced to say everything. Save us the efforts and do not make yourself go through the torture.

Do not listen to him. He is a blabeler. When you are out pretend that you trust his words, that all the time you have understood the rule, that you want to be freed from the beating and that you want to tell about everything.

The first whip on the sole of your foot will shock you–it is unbelievably painful–you will feel soft and think that you will inevitably confess to everything. This is wrong. Guys! Everything is a matter of habbit. The first strike only has the greatest effect, the rest is whatever. A lot of people endured the first strike, and they did not utter any unecessary words. Read Mustafa Khaliefa’s novel the “Shell”[2] to make your heart for sure stronger.

After a period in detention, especially if there was repeated torture (like what happened to me), you will enter the Dulab almost with a smile on your face, and the whole matter becomes a farce. And so whatever information that they can only get to because you talked, keep to yourself. For everything else, it is up to your ingenuity.

Do not listen to them if they try use your family to blackmail you–no matter how much they curse, no matter how much they threaten. They have stopped using this method, except in very rare circumstances.

If you get caught in the street, you can try to bribe the security operative with a thousand pounds to escape, like one of the guys once told us. Other than that do not waste your money. Once you are in the security branch, this will have no effect.

If you get caught in the street, try to play dumb and deny any relationship with the group. In the worst case, you can try to claim that you saw people marching so you followed the crowd. Remember that the one who organizes the demonstration will have a bonus treatment, so try to play dumb.

In general, the following is certain, all those arrested who spent considerable time in detention did learn one thing: They stopped fearing them. They turned out to be not as smart as we imagined. In addition, they are dead afraid, clueless, and are barely able to keep-up. In mid- March, when I was arrested, we were in the car heading to the security branch. The security private told his friend. I’ll pay 500 SYP just for one hour of sleep!! This was four months ago, when Syria was still asleep.


When the interrogator demands the name of your friends and you were forced to speak, start with those who are already well known, i.e., the probablity that they will get caught is already high whether you mention their names or not. Try to stay clear of collectivities and groups, and continue to maintain that you got enthusiastic to participate simply because you saw the rest of the guys marching.

Do not give up names of people who belong to different groups (university, neighborhood, Facebook). If the chain of arrests start rolling, it will go then in different directions and you end up implicating too many people. Keep in your mind one group of friends and every time you are forced to leak a name you pick one from the same group. After all every group is limited in numbers and the matter would never expand like an arthimatic sequence.

When it comes to the beating and the torture, it is important that you have to know how they are done (!) and to get the idea–the element of surprise is half of the terror.

Beating and Torture

It ranges from 1) a slap on the face or a kick; 2) dulab (tire); 3) electricity; 4) bisat al-reeh (flying carpet).

The slap on the face, the kick, and the butt–these are a form of pampering. In other words, don’t get sad; to the contrary you should be happy that it was over with these.

The dulab is the first stop in the interrogation. Usually, before they start the interrogation, they will treat you to a “show of muscles” round. In terms of duration this first round will be 1) the longest after which you are out from between their hands “well done”; 2) he will tell you that this was just a joke, we haven’t even started. 3) He is lying. Do not let him win the psychological war.

The positioning of the dulab is a type of falqa, and it varies depending on what materials they use (rubber), a tank’s belt, an electric cable, a regular belt, or a bamboo stick.

Thank god I did not get to try electricity. They may use the old instrument with the two positive and negative poles, or the Iranian electric sticks–shame on them. They may use electric sticks to make noises and to threaten you. But its sound is louder than its effects.

Bisat al-reeh is used in Damascus when they want to force the detainees to confess to false charges. They did it for instance with M. I., the lawyer, when they forced him to confess that he received millions from Saudi Arabia to distribute leaflets. Bisat al-reeh consists of a wooden board on which the body of the detainee is spread. The board is then bent upward causing excruciating pain in his back, not to mention the side dish of beatings.

I am just bringing up the most terrifying piece. But do not be afriad! The most they will probably use is the dulab, this if they chose to use it.

Another thing that I should mention, to avoid any surprises after the arrest. When they took me from and back to the prison cell, my hands were tied behind my back and my eyes were covered with tammasha (or tummesheh) to prevent me from seeing anyone or anything. The interrogator will shout, and you will be surrounded by more than one. The dulab could be accompanied by someone stepping on your head or some forms of humiliation, including cursing and blasphamies. There are mere sound effects. They are worth a nickel. In any case, all the slaps on the face, the kicks and the fists, no matter how sensitive the areas they target, will not hurt as your adernalin is too high. The Falqa however is a little painful. I pray god for your endurance. The swelling of the feet will vanish in two days.

Why did you get so terrified?! I swear it is not worth it. Consider it like atonement for your past sins, and a way to rise to a greater position with God. After a little while, we will be treated to a falqa without making a sound, and we considered the ones who screamed too soft. We were with two young men from Douma, 17 years of age in the eleventh grade. They were beaten so hard, that beasts cannot stand it. But I swear they did not scream or open their lips.  It was surprising. They looked too innocent and childish and not anything macho. They made us ashamed, and from that day we did not complain. So, stay strong and remember everything is for God and for Syria. In God’s will– no one will be arrested. But, and seriously, if anyone gets arrested, they ought to enjoy it.

Prison Mates

(Only applicable when you are put in a communal cell) You will spend the best of your days with them, and become one soul in many bodies. It is very likely that you will be stuffed into a really small place. Rest assured! You will not feel disgust from the the incredible smell, and you will not feel bothered from the feet that will bump your face no matter how you turned. Most of your companions in the cell would be fellow demonstrators. Those who have no relationship to the revolution are detained by mistake and prisons have had so many people by mistake. Try to adapt and get along with them very quickly, and favor your sense of the collective, and embody the ethics of revolutionaries. Do not get into fights with anyone because the prison guards will gloat after they punish you if your voices become too loud.

Stay away from inflitrators–as they always try to plant one amongst you or with you alone to verify that you have repented and to “check-up” your truthfulness during the interrogation. Pretend that you believe him, and express remorse before him, and that you are the first minhebakgi (Colloquial reference used to describe, after March 15, to the supporters of the President) and that you were brought here by mistake. Of course you will have no difficulty discovering him because he is a Mukhabarat private, and consist of a mass of stupidity with a stinking smell.

Remember that the prison is a world of little things. Your dreams will become a little more modest. In other words, you will forget a little the freedom and pluralism that you fought for outside the prison, and you will start dreaming of a nice shower, new change of underwear, to sleep on a matress, and sometimes even more modest: the privilege to stretch your legs (for the place is really small), the privilege to sleep while you are sitting, and the privilege to drink water without worrying about the possibility of going to the bathroom, seeing sunlight, etc.

These are things that you will use to weave stories to tell your kids before they go to sleep. So do enjoy them with a smile.

Some Vocabulary Used in Prison with Explanation

Seidi (Master):

The infamous word for addresses. It is imposed for humiliation purposes. You use it to address both the private, and the head of the security branch. Be careful not to call anyone Oustath (a polite colloquial mode to address strangers who are university graduates)  or brother, so that you won’t get surprised with a constantly accelerating vertical slap on your face.

t’al’oh ‘al khat (Take him to the line):

This means take him to the bathroom.

al-sajjan (the Prison Guard):

The security private in charge of dragging you to the interrogator, taking you to the bathroom, or of bringing you food:   This one also you address as Seidi (Master). Depending on the situation you can ask him to take a shower, when your stay becomes extended, to bring you cover when you feel cold, or salt for the boiled potato, or, to take you to the bathroom outside regular hours and so on. Don’t ask for a Quran — FORBIDDEN.

tasyeef  (Packing the Swords):

It is a wonderful position to sleep–may you one day experience it. It would be used when the prison cell is tight, in such a way that each one will sleep on his side by alternating the direction of the head (i.e., like a box of sardines, head-feet-head-feet). You will be able to use your freind’s feet as pillows. Especially with the swelling from falqa, your friend’s feet would be soft just the way you like it.

Note: Sometimes, even tasyeef, is impossible. In this case God only help you. It is difficult for me to explain in writing the possible sleeping positions.

tammasha (or tummesheh):

A piece of leather or cloth used to cover the eyes during interrogation. This will increase the degree of your fear, and will reassure the interrogator in case you want to avenge yourself. Sometimes, depending on the rythym of the beating, the tumeesheh may shift a little. Use this opportunity for example to take a look at his evil face, or to guess the time of the day. Take a look, do not be afraid.


Three meals.

In the morning Labneh, olives, Halawa, jam. Do not get too excited it is of a lower quality than what you think :)

Lunch: Burgol (ground cooked wheat) with potatos and tomato sauce (hmmm, very filling!), or sometimes rice and chicken, and most of the time rice and lentils, green peas, and billed carrots.

Dinner: Boiled potato (without salt!), sometimes with a tomato. Some days they might bring a boiled egg or lentil soup, which consists of a yellowish, tasteless liquid.

Just shut your eyes and swallow — bon appetit– with the compliments of the chef with navy blue suspenders. When you are done eating, be nice to the guys and make a wish that the next meal you will share outside, and try not to forget yourself and say Daimeh (may we always eat like this) for the food will get stuck in their throats. Do not be too hasty in deciding to go on a hunger strike. Study the situation carefully, because it is forbidden. In some branches, they will sodomize whoever attempts to strike. Do not think you are a Gandhi.


Some specific circumstances of the arrest, like duration, whether they beat detainees in a particular security branch, vary depending on the situation. You are now on the ground, and your friends who were arrested can be more useful than me.

The difference between me and some of the newly arrested guys is that I was arrested for one month at the beginning of the revolution. I spent some part of the detention in state security in Aleppo, and after that I was sent with the heavy-weight organizers to the Central Headquarters of Al Mukhabarat in Kafar Sousseh in Damascus. In there I met dozens of incredible detainees, and we exchanged stories and experiences, some of which are not necessairly known by the guys.

In detention raise your head high (in your head only), and remember the prophet Yusuf  (Joseph) and sing:

You with the your bloody eyes and hands remember that the night will not last, like the detention room and the rustling of your chains.

Stay optimistic and carve your name on the wall of your prison cell. When they ask you to stamp your statements with your thumbprint — think really hard about how you want to use the ink traces and what you would want to write on the wall.

When you get out safely, do not spread terror about your heroism as you are resisting the severest of cruel torture. This you say to the media, but not to the demonstrators on the ground.

When you are out do not fear that much from the pursuit of Al Mukhabarat. Try to spend each night in different places if you can, especially if you are still an activist, like all the other guys that were released, especially when you anticipate an arrest campaign.

When you taste arrest and are then released, one thing will leave your heart for ever: Fear.

This is what I could think of so far. For more information please visit our branches in all Syrian governorates and cities. Hurry up, time is short, because when the regime falls there won’t be anything left.

By: local coordination committee in xxxxx neighborhood.


[1] Middle East Watch, Syria Unmasked: The Suppression of Human Rights by the Asad Regime (1991), in particular Appendix A: Types of Torture in Syria—The Amnesty International List (pp. 149-155).

[2] Al-Qawqa’a [The Shell]. Beirut: Dar al-Adab (2008). Mustafa Khalifa was detained in the infamous military prison of Tadmur (Palmyra) between 1982 and 1994. The novel recounts in detail the horrors of torture, intimidation, and humiliation experienced by political prisoners at the hands of the security forces in Tadmur. Il testo di Khalifa è tradotto in francese: La Coquille, Actes Sud, Paris 2007 (immagine della copertina in alto a dx).