Women Behind Bars


Salma Aldimashki

Perhaps I don’t have the right to talk on her behalf. What urges me to talk now is her young age, her mass experience and her inability to talk. Probably, one day, she will relate her story in details illustrating the names, dates, and episodes. However, I am only going to relate some incidents so that they won’t be forgotten in the hierarchy of episodes that we are living in in our county, Syria.

I had known her before being imprisoned but didn’t cast attention to her at that time as she was a young and enthusiastic girl, learnt through my age and my experience that staying for several years on the academic desks will mature her. I visited her a few hours after the release from Adra prison, that time her appearance surprised me. Her abduction hasn’t exceeded 8 months moving between the different branches including Adra prison in which she has grown for several years. Her white fat face wrinkled and lost childhood innocence that made her face different. That day she didn’t say any word, she was lost, confused and looking around with her wandering eyes. About one month later, I visited her once again where she related during the visit all of what she has gone through of incidents inside the prison.

She is a girl that hasn’t exceeded 20, originated from the Damascus countryside, in the early time in her university in 2014 got introduced to those who remainder of the (Syrian Revolted Youth) – a group of youth who participated in the revolution and demonstrations, organized themselves but have been eliminated either through killing under torture or abduction. Those stayed, fled outside the country or encountered similar destinies. She attempted to get involved and help with the civil action with the displaced. She was enthusiastic to do so. She is the daughter of this countryside where none of its population had been left behind in its environment, its land and house. Running out of time did not slow her down nor did the vigilance of the Syrian Security forces in order to get involved in action. She was out of a sudden abducted and dropped in one of the Aerial Security Forces.

She has been dropped in that branch for three months, where she was charged of getting in contact with Ghota, the terrorists there and financing terrorism. The purpose of the practiced pressure on her was mainly to get information about her two brothers who were besieged in Ghota, their friends, and in order to get to know the type of connection with Ghota. She has been questioned on many stories that she hasn’t got answers for, about individuals who she doesn’t know anything about, except their names. Pressure has been practiced against her by beatings, insults, sending her to the solitary confinement and threatening her of exposing her mother to an electric current.

Investigation period was over once the investigators discovered that she really doesn’t know anything and the report that has been written contains a lot of mistaken information about her. She then has been transferred to Adra prison after signing a lot of papers in which she’s clueless to their content.

Being in Adra prison, she discovered that she was held in suspension on trial for terrorism accused of supporting armed groups and financing terrorism.

She spent five months in Adra prison! She surprised me when she had told me that the branch, despite the dirt, bad aroma, moisture, insects and fears of the investigators of hitting, was more merciful than the prison, and that the real agonizing days started when she entered the prison.

Inside the prison, women prisoners were dropped in cubicles that contain prisoners of all judicial and political crimes. Where prisoners on political charges were being set under the mercy of criminal prisoners of killing and dissoluteness. Sympathy with terrorism prisoners was forbidden inside the prison, and all the political prisoners were terrorism prisoners, where it was forbidden for them to get in contact with each other, and any type of contact or sympathy particularly causes to be sent to the solitary confinement in addition to hitting.

Of course, the young girl hasn’t got this information for free. Owning money when she was abducted, she could contact her parents and hire a lawyer inside the prison, then starting visits to her. She was surprised that a significant number of women have gone about three or four years in prison for terrorism charges, their parents didn’t know anything about them and they couldn’t get in touch with them as they didn’t have money. And when she lent her mobile SIM card to a colleague, whom she got to know while being in the solitary confinement, in order to call her parents to tell them about her place, one of the dissolution girls snitched on her to the general (the commander of prison), her penalty was flogging then jailing in the solitary confinement for seven days.

Moreover, the one who owns money can get rid of the bad food of the prison and prepare his own food. However, when she sympathized with one of those who eat prison’s food and shared food with her, she was penalized and sent to the solitary confinement once again. Furthermore, during the next penalty, she discovered that there was a network of girls specialized for murder and prostitution spread over all the cubicles and reporting all the details that go on between the prisoners to the colonel in return for special advantages to be granted to them.

She told me about a report written about seven women in her cubicle, where all have been sent to the branch to reinvestigate with them for charges of contacting with Al-Nusra Front, four of them were bareheaded and it was unreasonable that they had a relation with Al-Nusra Front. When they came back to the cubicle quite after investigation that took days, the indications of flogging and torture were obvious on their faces. One of them said once entered the cubicle ‘May Allah not grant a good hap to the one who stands behind that!’, she says, meaning the snitching girl. A few hours later that day, guardians of the prison entered and beat that lady down in front of all the other prisoners.

The repeated torture caused her social phobia. Being unable to talk or communicate with her colleagues nor being able to distinguish accurately the crimes of women surrounding her, made her keep silent and lay on one of the dormitory corners alone, just observing without communicating with others. This was coupled with a bad health situation where she hasn’t gone through a monthly period for five months in a row. When one of the nurses asked about the reason, she was surprised that water contains camphor which was the reason for monthly period block.

She attended an investigation session in the terrorism court in which she heard from the court members that money can solve problems. After communication between her parents, the lawyer, and the judge in charge of that, she was released after paying three millions to the judge, while passing on the information that any one of her colleagues can be released whatever her charge is and only if she can ensure the sufficient amount of money, get in touch with the lawyer, with each charge costing an equal amount of money.

The girl now has got phobia from every guy wearing military uniform, even if he is one of the police or civil defense members. She can’t go out to the streets as she is scared of all eyes or of being abducted once again. Names and stories of women who were forbidden from doing visits have become a heavy burden and prevented her from sleeping. She dreams of raising huge amounts of money to give them to the lawyers in order to free her abducted colleagues.

What’s left is a dream of writing about the experience of this girl and all other prisoners with their real names when we get a bit of freedom and safety.

 Execulsive – SWN

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