Friday, 24 July 2015
One refugee's journey from a Syrian prison to London
' "Organising protests through the internet was our weapon at the time in the face of the tanks that had surrounded Daraa and Homs," said Ziyad.
They had called for a lifting of the siege imposed on the two cities through peaceful protests for six months, until security forces started shooting at protesters, saying that protesters had shot first.
The protesting youths decided to respond in kind, according to Ziyad, and began arming themselves with pistols, rifles and automatic weapons procured from Arsal in Lebanon.
They began responding to regime fire on protests. However, it was notable that the army did not pursue them for about a month, only later launching a surprise attack against their neighbourhoods and homes.
However, the protesters overran army checkpoints in the Damascus countryside and seized their weapons. They started planning an operation to storm Damascus.
The plan did not materialise, as the regime employed a scorched earth policy in dealing with protesters. According to Ziyad, the regime would surround an area with tanks and then launch airstrikes against it. Hundreds of civilians died in this way, he said.
The father was told to remain silent or he would also be arrested. An unfortunate neighbour who was passing by their house was also arrested, as well as a teenager who asked what was going on.
Ziyad has suffered from an easily dislocated shoulder since his childhood, and when one of his torturers was dragging him, his shoulder became dislocated again. This discovery amused the soldiers in the room, and they pulled the shoulder out of its socket and replaced it several times just for fun.
Ziyad and his brother remained in prison for about three months, while their parents did everything they could, contacting influential people and giving around two million Syrian lira (almost $40,000 at the time) in bribes to secure their release.
The prison cell in which the brothers were held was only a few metres square, but held approximately 60 prisoners - unable to sleep due to the cramped conditions.'