Report on Civil Activities (Aug 30-Sept 16, 2016)
Translated by Maya Milani.
Our Detainees Are Not a Bargaining Card
Since its creation in April 2014, the Detainees’ Voice Organization (DVO) group did not cease to do everything possible to highlight the cause of Syrian detainees. On September 8, it launches its fourth “Save the Rest” campaign, in an attempt to rescue those still alive of the 200.000 detained and forcefully disappeared Syrians (of which 75.000 are documented by name, based on the campaign info). Every passing minute a human life leaves after suffering all sorts of torture.
The campaign relates the words of a Saydnaya prison detainee: “7am Saydnaya prison time: We bid farewell to our friend that passed away yesterday, we put him on a blanket, kiss his forehead, read him a prayer in secret, some may be wishing to be in his shoes to get rid of this daily hell. They killed him simply because he was sick, because his body could no longer take the hunger and sickness eating him up every day. We watched him waste away before our eyes unable to do anything, not even give him a diarrhea pill.
“The bits of boiled potatoes we passed on to him no longer helped. Perhaps he knew his end was near, so he asked the warden for a medication during the morning round, and he was treated with a wave of beating with sticks and kicks on his head, his back and kidneys. His torment did not last more than two days. He left us to join the friends that have been devoured by this grave called “Saydnaya Prison”.
The DVO continues to call upon everyone to do what they can, calling on the UN and international community to pressure the Syrian regime for the immediate and unconditional release of all the arbitrarily detained individuals. DVO Insists that the cause of detainees is a humanitarian one, so no side should turn it into a political pressure card or a bargaining chip.
The group also demands the halt of arbitrary arrests and the outlawing of all legal articles and decrees that allow politically-motivated arrests. The fate of the forcefully disappeared in the prisons and detention centers of the Syrian regime should be revealed, continues the DVO group, just as the burial places of those who have perished under torture. All the death sentences issued by regime courts should not be carried out, especially in the case of the first and second Martial Field courts and the Terrorism Case courts, as well as all types of martial and irregular courts. DVO calls for opening all detention centers managed by the Syrian government and its allied militias to be inspected by local and international committees, and that they perform ad-hoc searches without prior notification, and hold accountable all those responsible for torture and killings in regime prisons.
Within this context, al-Atareb activists in rural Aleppo held a vigil lighting in solidarity with detainees in all prisons, regardless of who is withholding them. Activists held banners that read “Our detainees are not hostages or bargaining cards. Our detainees are for the homeland and not for the warden” and “Does the ICRC [International Red Cross Committee] know prisoners die in Asad jails due to lack of basic healthcare?”
Wheelchair Race in Eastern Ghutah
On the 9th of September, the General Medical Commission in opposition-held Eastern Ghutah organized a race for ten participants on wheelchairs who suffer from damaged bone marrow as a result of the war.
The race was organized in collaboration with the “Free Police” corps in Eastern Ghutah, who secured the race route for the participants, whose age ranged between 20 and 45 years. At the end of the race, the committee handed financial awards worth $100 to the winner, $50 to the second classified and $25 to the third, in addition to participation awards to the rest.
The General Medical Commission is an institution that provides first aid to the injured in Eastern Ghutah and takes care of over 500 injured, with various medical points spread around the area and an ambulance corps. The Commission recently founded a center for rehabilitating those suffering from bone marrow damage, to help them regain their ability to be active members in it.
Syrian Kurdish Party continues sit-in demanding the release of its detainees
The Kurdistan Democratic Party of Syria (KDPS) called for a series of sit-ins in several towns and villages in the area of al-Qamishli during the ʻAid al-Adha holidays (Sep 12-15), demanding the release of detainees from the prisons of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). The prisoners include Muhammad Ismaʻil, the secretary of the KDPS political bureau, Nashʼat Zaza, member of the political bureau, Abdul-Karim Hajji and Nafiʻ ʻAbdullah, two members of the central committees, as well as other party members who were arrested on August 15.
The sit-ins were held at 11am on September 12 in front of the KDPS offices in al-Malikiyyah, Rumaylan, al-Jawadiyyah, al-Qahtaniah, al-Qamishli, ʻAmuda, ad-Darbasiah, Ras al-ʻAin and al-Hasakah.
Demonstrations in Support of Darayyah
After the regime expelled the residents of Darayyah from their city in late August, several demonstration went out in opposition-held Syrian cities and towns, condemning the regime and the opposition forces that had let Darayyah down.
In the city of Kafr Tkharim in northern rural Idlib, a demonstration was held during which the participants saluted the people of Darayyah holding banners that condemned what they called “the laxity of [Free Syrian Army] southern factions”.
In the south, on August 26, people in al-Mzairab, rural Darʻa, organized a sit-in in solidarity with Darayyah to condemn the military leaders and factions that neglected the besieged city, in a reference to the FSA Southern Front and the US-led Military Operations Center (MOC) based in Amman. The event was covered by the local Baqin Media.
The protestors chanted “Dear God, help an unarmed nation” and “Bring on the tank and the cannons, we will not bow”. They held banners that read “It is not Darayyah, but our own zeal that has fallen” and “May your armies fail if Darayyah falls” and “Four years of legendary siege in Darayyah”.
On August 28, in the countryside of Idlib, the residents of Maʻarrat an-Nuʻman went out protesting as well, chanting slogans such as “Shame, Darʻa, the shame”, in a reference to Samih Shaqir’s famous musical tribute to Darʻaʼs revolutionary “martyrs”, and “Where are you Darʻa? Traitors be cursed”.
Recreational Party for Kids
On September 13, the organization Bariqat Amal held a festivity for kids in opposition-held Idlib city in memory of Dalia Qminasi, one of its members who was killed by an airstrike.
Qminasi had received a paid job offer to teach at a private nursery, but she turned it down to continue volunteering to teach the children of detainees and fallen militants at Bariqat Amal, as she said during her last meeting with the organization board.
The festivity accommodated 50 children, aged four to ten, with activities like Q&A games, visual displays, as well as a lunch. The psychological support team of Banafsaj organization participated with some sport games.
Since the ongoing aerial bombardment of the city prevents any gathering that could be targeted by a raid, the organizers put together children’s recreational activities in closed spaces.
[Main photo: An image used for the fourth #savetherest campaign that was launched by the Detainees’ Voice Organization (DVO). Published on 7-9-2016 (DVO Facebook Page)].