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Torture Memos: former detainee Razan Mohamed

Local | 2020-06-30 10:08:00
Torture Memos: former detainee Razan Mohamed
   Razan Al-Mohamed
Since the beginning of peaceful demonstrations in Mach 2011, the Syrian regime has used all brutal and inhumane means to silence the voice of the revolution, randomly arresting thousands of civilians and detaining them in Assad’s prisons and security branches to be experience the most horrific physical and psychological torture.

Like many women in the regime’s cellars, activist Razan Al-Mohamed, 37, has witnessed and experienced these horrors and daily suffering first hand in the northern Aleppo province.

Al-Mohamed tells Zaman al-Wasl her revolt story:

“I am originally from Bab Al-Hadid neighborhood in Aleppo, but I was born in the UAE, where I grew up. In 1994, I moved to Yemen, to study Arabic in the University of Sanaa. After graduating, I married my cousin in 2001. After giving birth to two of my children, we moved to Syria and in 2009, I gave birth to my third child. 

“In 2010, I worked as a private tutor. Our living conditions were limited, so I chose to support my husband in bearing the burden.

“In 2011, with the outbreak of the revolution, I participated in the peaceful demonstrations. I devoted all my energy towards our fight for freedom from Assad’s tyranny. In the beginning, I only worked with some friends inside our neighborhood, making graffiti and distributing revolutionary leaflets on the streets, among other activities, until the demonstrations started expanding.

“Then, I participated in the formation of the revolutionary coordination in Aleppo. We arranged demonstrations through Skype and clashed with security forces several times. Our peaceful protests were met with extreme brutality, to repress our call for freedom and dignity and our resolve to overthrow the regime.  However, it did not discourage me. With every demonstration, I felt more passionate about the revolution.

“I still remember how we chose names and slogans, like ‘Friday of Dignity’ and ‘Death, Not Humiliation’, preparing banners and flags, and coordinating media coverage, etc.

“Before my arrest, I was visiting my family in Turkey, and after my return to Aleppo, I received news about the arrest of a number of activists from the revolutionary coordination. I spoke with my husband about my fear of entering Hamdania, which was under regime control. On September 23, 2013, I was arrested at one of the security checkpoints in Al-Rashideen. I asked them to let me deliver my daughter to my sister, which they actually allowed. Then, handcuffed at the back if their car, I was taken to a detention center of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, where I have stayed for 3 days, during which I was subjected to all types of torture, from beating to electrical shock. They searched my bag and my phone and refused my requests to inform my family about where I was detained. There were no cells in this center, just small solitary rooms. 

“I was then transferred to the Political Security branch. I still remember the small single room where they put me for the first few days, with the terrible stench of decomposing corpses. I stayed there for a month after they removed the bodies; then I was transferred to a dormitory with other detainees. Every day, they interrogated and beat and tortured us on charges of conspiring with terrorists. The branch was like a sorting ground where they gather detainees from other branches to be distributed over the main prisons. It was full of young detainees, especially women, I stayed there until April 2014, and in that period the opposition factions managed to blockade the branch from the eastern side.

“On April 25, 2014, I was interrogated for the last time. Back then, there was a prisoner exchange deal between Ahrar Al-Sham and regime forces, but they did not inform me that I was going to be released. After the investigation, I was officially transferred to Adra prison. I bid farewell to the friends I made in prison and with whom I shared an unspeakable pain, then, they put me in a bus with about 40 detainees. After we arrived in Damascus, the bus took me to the Syrian-Lebanese border, where I was released. I was shocked as life rushed back into me and I felt revived after I have been in the presence of death for so long.

“I entered Lebanese territory and contacted my brother in Turkey, who sent me an amount of money. I headed toward Hariri Airport and left for Turkey. Immediately after my arrival, my husband, who was still in Syria, left me and sent my children to live with me. Ever since, I have been trying heal my wounds, determined to pursue my life.

“I had several jobs, such as sewing and others, to be able to afford living here in Turkey. Now, 5 years since the horrors of torture, I am trying to help other survivors of the regime to recover psychologically and socially from scars they are bearing.

“I only hope that one day I will return to my homeland with my head held high, living free of this gang that has ruled Syria for decades, away from injustice, humiliation and submission. In the end, I want to address all women who survived the regime's prisons that each of them stay strong, courageous and determined to live life to its fullest, despite the suffering.”

Zaman Al Wasl
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