Everything in my county is random and so is the detention. While you might be peacefully walking along the street minding your own business, a security service patrol passes by and stops you and makes you squat inside their car alongside others who were arrested during the day. You might also be in the wrong place where the security inelegance is arbitrary arresting people in a neighborhood. Your face features might be found suspicious to the security men and order your arrest out of nothing. 

Misfortune

This was simply what happened to my friend Ahmad. My friend is from Dir Ezzor city, northeast Syria. During his visit to Damascus, he stayed in a low-key district called Al-Dahadel where he sought safety from the attacks against his city. That neighborhood became an escape for him and the rest of his family members who fled from Dir Ezzor including his sister who was married to a police member.

In mid-November 2012, the security forces raided their area. That day, the security arbitrarily arrested men of all ages in the neighborhood. In addition to Ahmad, my brother also was among them.

As the officer ordered them to queue at one of the town’s walls, he started randomly choosing who is going to go back home, who is going to be taken to the jail, and who was to be executed at the scenes.

While my brother was lucky enough to be set loose, Ahmad was taken to behind bars. The officer told him “I do not like your face” then he ordered his men to put him in the car.

Disappearance Precedents

This was not the first time Ahmad got arrested. He was once detained in one of the demonstrations in our city, Dir Ezzor, at the onset of the Syrian uprising in 2011. I can until now recall how he used to stand on the sidewalk overseeing the protectors chanting for freedom and dignity on the street.

That time he was arrested because he was not able to run away with his life quickly. He thought that if he stood still on the street, the police would not arrest him as he is not running. 

Three days after his arrest, he was set free. His body was full of burses from the torture he had gone through. 

He called me right after he was freed and told me that they were ruthlessly beating him up to give up the names he knows of who was protesting against the regime. He was so proud of himself not giving up on the security the names of his friends, including me. 

After he was arrested from Al-Dahadel town, many other arresting raids happened in the surrounding areas. During the same period also, the police started to drop the detained people that they arrested and killed in the town. We were terrified that Ahmad could be one of them.

A week later corpses stopped to appear in the neighborhood. We had hope that he survived and did not die during the torture. 

In mid-December 2012, the inevitable shocking news arrived. He is dead. 

The police called his father to come to the military hospital to collect his belongings. It was his broken ID card only. That was it.

The Disappearance  

With a tearful eye, my mom looked at me and told me to look after myself and be careful. 

A few minutes later. I go down to the street. I looked around, and suddenly two men in a white car pushed me inside and took off hastily.

“We got the girl,” the security person who was sitting next to me said to someone he was speaking to on the phone.

I was blindsided. I did not know where we were going. After a long drive, I figured that I was in the well-known with its nasty reputation security branch called the 215 branch of the military security or what is also known as the “the death branch”.

In the first two months of my disappearance, I got to know from one of the prison’s jailers that Ahamd was here too before he died. I felt that his soul was around me.

His legacy of patience and loyalty to his friend will remain alive. He died because he was not able to bear the torture that they practice against him to inform them of our names.

Ahmad was a normal man. He played martial art trying to live his life away from politics. He did not know how to belong to us in the protests. He was living on his own.

Ahmad’s mother could not believe or stand that her older son died. She died and so was his father shortly after Ahmad’s death.

Ahmad At Ceaser photos

As the Ceaser Act and Pictures became the trend in Syria last June, one of our relatives skimmed through thousands of pictures and was able to identify Ahmad.

His face reflected how much torture he had suffered before he died. When I saw his pictures, I was utterly shocked… it was him; it was Ahmad. 

While Ahmad did not make it, I survived the detention. 

After a while and until now, I am working with a group of friends and activists that advocate and gather groups of survivors from the Assad regime’s detention centers.

Through our work, we are striving to attain justice for Ahmad and thousands of others who died and are dying until now suffering all kinds of disgraceful and inhuman living conditions and torture.

They deserve a normal life like everyone else. They deserve justice. Our efforts will continue until Syria’s prisons are free, but from the criminals who deserve it.