'Ibrahim owned a shop located near several security and intelligence offices in the Syrian town of Deraa. He was arrested there on three separate occasions simply because of his shop’s location. While in prison, he was beaten with the barrel of a rifle and still has broken teeth. He was blindfolded and suspended from a ceiling for hours at a time. Guards threatened to hurt his wife. For Ibrahim, the psychological torture was worse than the physical. He describes feeling deep paranoia and having chest pains when hearing the sounds of sirens.
Now, Ibrahim lives in Jordan. His ordeal is one of 64 harrowing narratives from Syrian and Iraqi refugees now residing in Jordan collected over two years by the Centre for Victims of Torture (CVT), which provides trauma rehabilitation services. The centre’s new report, Reclaiming Hope, Dignity and Respect: Syrian and Iraqi Torture Survivors in Jordan, takes a close look at the psychological scars left behind. Jordan has seen a massive influx of refugees — nearly 630,000 registered Syrian refugees and increasing numbers of Iraqis — as a result of the ongoing Syrian war and the advance of Daesh.
In the case of Syria, according to the report, the overwhelming majority of those interviewed who were tortured claim to have had no role in any opposition movement. With no reported involvement in demonstrations, revolution or armed groups, many interviewees were swept up arbitrarily in the violence and government crackdowns. They happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, often their own homes or at checkpoints. The torture was not used to extract information, simply to cause pain and create fear.
For those who had either participated in demonstrations or attempted to document such events, the treatment was especially brutal. Kareem, an independent photographer who took photos of demonstrations, told CVT how he was forced to watch the gang rape of his wife and killing of his son before enduring brutal physical torture himself. Fatima, whose husband was a member of the Free Syrian Army, had her 12 year old daughter taken by Syrian troops, who used her as a lever to force her father to surrender in order to save her life. He did, and was killed.'