DEIR-EZ-ZOR/AZAZ, Syria (AA) – A man who had been imprisoned in Syria and subjected to torture for three years says the Assad regime extorts money from families of prisoners.
Mohammed Shilash, who is from the town of Sor in Deir Ez-Zor province, decided to leave the country to work in Lebanon in 2019 after his financial situation deteriorated due to the war.
Planning to cross into Lebanon without being caught by regime forces, Mohammed and his friends made a deal with a human smuggler. But his dream of leaving for Lebanon came to nothing with his arrest by regime forces at the meeting point with the human trafficker in the capital, Damascus.
‘I was accused of being Iraqi’
Having obtained his freedom by giving a bribe despite an amnesty, Mohammed said they were held in a regime prison for three years without any charges.
“They accused me of being Iraqi. After that, the torture began. As a result of the torture, I confessed everything they wanted. I was subjected to beatings and torture for about one and a half months. I was subjected to humiliation and unspeakable curses,” he said.
‘Persecution usually took place after midnight’
Transferred to a prison in Damascus about one and a half months after his first detention, Mohammed said: “I was taken to a three-meter (9.84-foot) wide ward in the prison. There were many people in the tiny ward. There was no place to sit. Two days later, we were transferred to single cells,” he added.
He noted that the torture continued for months.
‘They wouldn’t remove the corpses until they rotted’
Mohammed noted that people are constantly getting sick in prison due to bad conditions and that adequate health services are not provided.
Mohammed said his family got him transferred to Adra Central Prison in Damascus by paying a lot of money.
“I was held there for about six months. Adra Central Prison was better than Sednaya. It was as if I had escaped from hell,” he said.
Mohammed said the so-called amnesty law announced by the Assad regime about two weeks ago is a game.
“Lastly, an amnesty was issued, but despite this, my family paid millions of Syrian liras for my release.
“Those in charge of prisons have turned our situation into a business. They extort big money from families.”