From Syria: 'I'm Not Afraid of Dying. What I Fear is Being Arrested'

Syrian refugees protest in Amman

Syrian women protest in Jordan's capital Amman. © KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP/Getty Images

You have heard the stories on the news — Syrian cities are being besieged, and civilians are dying in droves at the hands of their own government.

Last week, a U.S. journalist and a French photographer were killed while covering the violence in Homs. Despite the Syrian government’s refusal to allow independent international human rights monitors into the country, Amnesty International is on the Syrian border, collecting stories for the world to hear.

Amnesty’s Syria campaigner Maha talked with a group of women from the village of Tasil, including a young mother:

“One day before we left Tasil I was looking out from the window and saw security forces chasing a man in the farms near the village. They were shooting at him and I thought no doubt they would kill him. When I looked closely I realized that that man was actually my husband. Thank God he managed to escape.”

Maha heard that 8 deaths occurred in Tasil in one week — including a woman shot and killed while putting her laundry out on the roof.

Those arrested in Syria face unspeakable torture

Neil, an Amnesty researcher, spoke with individuals from the city of Dera’a. Dozens have been killed in recent weeks, their homes looted.

Neil is hearing accounts of torture unlike anything he has seen in 9 years working on Syria at Amnesty International. A refugee named Abu Suhaib tells Neil what he’s truly scared of,

“I’ve seen many beside me be shot and killed but I’m not afraid of dying. What I fear is being arrested.”

Neil talked to Jihad, a 34-year-old clothes shop worker arrested last December. Like others, he was subjected to extremely cramped conditions, electrocuted several times, and sometimes violently beaten. Also, like many, he had his religious beliefs denigrated by the security guards.

After refusing to recognize Syrian president Bashar al-Assad as his god, Jihad was kicked down two flights of stairs. Jihad unwrapped the bandage around his left hand and told Neil what happened next.

He then ordered that I be restrained in the crucifix position, and have a piece of dynamite the size of a pen tied to my left palm. ‘Boom’, it exploded and half my hand blew off. Blood flowed everywhere.”

Jihad was taken to a hospital from where he was able to escape and later find his way to Jordan. After he fled, the security forces gave his family a document stating that if captured he will be executed.

Neil and Maha continue to uncover accounts of violence and torture. How much blood do the people have to shed before the world helps?

Amnesty International is campaigning for governments to take action individually and through the United Nations to protect Syrians from their government’s brutality. We need your help. Take action to stop the bloodly crackdown in Syria.

Follow Sanjeev Bery on Twitter @SanjeevBery and Facebook

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14 thoughts on “From Syria: 'I'm Not Afraid of Dying. What I Fear is Being Arrested'

  1. In the immortal words of Joe Strummer: “In these days of evil presidente’s, working for the clampdown, lately one or two have fully paid there dues.”
    Here’s hoping Assad is next.

  2. Jeff Thomas, that's the only thing that makes sense to me. These so-called peaceful protesters have tanks for God's sake. More than half of the country's people support their government and recognize the foreign plot against it. These are terrorists who believe people of certain sects and religions don't deserve to live. In addition they are killing the protesters themselves and blaming it on the government.
    Where is mention in this article about Sandra Hassan, Sari Saoud, Sarya Hassoun, Mohammad Merhi? What about the Christian priest that was recently assassinated? What about the truth of Zaynab Hosny and Hamza Al-Khateeb. There is a media war against Syria. Why do you think all of a sudden Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the rest of the Arab league are now speaking up, because it's in their interest to install a Wahhabi regime. What about U.S? Does this not remind you of Libya? That is, if you are someone who recognized that the U.S. clearly didn't care about the Libyan people when NATO intervened. Not to mention none of those who support this revolution said a word about Egypt or Tunisia, and now Yemen, let a long Bahrain.

    I dare you to search the father of this so-called revolution, Adnan Ar'our. Is this who will have influence in the country if Bashar Al Assad's regime is toppled?

    By the way, anyone hear of the new constitution that the majority voted for in a referendum. Or the release of political prisoners? Or the elimination of martial law? Or the reforms Bashar Al Assad has been making since he came to power. Higher education in Syria is free, poor people are given benefits. There's going to be elections in 2 years. Not that any of the protesters really want freedom or democracy (not Western liberal democracy).

    Not to say the current regime is perfect, or even something I would say I support, but I definitely will not support an army killing civilians who represent the opposition and I acknowledge that the president does not have complete control over Syrian police and the army, of which by the way more than 2000 have been killed, and many gruesomely.

  3. "Disgusted", are you part of the opposition? Being as violent as you sound, you kinda prove my point. I'm not sure why anyone would be offended. I acknowledge people dying, and I am sad for all the deaths, but I'm suggesting that logic shows the blame should shift from the government, to armed terrorists.

  4. I heard that the violence isn’t being caused by the govt. but rather the free syria army is foreigners that are trying to frame the govt. so that this will become one more mideast country without it’s own govt; therefore in the hands of the international community.

  5. Jeff Thomas, that’s the only thing that makes sense to me. These so-called peaceful protesters have tanks for God’s sake. More than half of the country’s people support their government and recognize the foreign plot against it. These are terrorists who believe people of certain sects and religions don’t deserve to live. In addition they are killing the protesters themselves and blaming it on the government.
    Where is mention in this article about Sandra Hassan, Sari Saoud, Sarya Hassoun, Mohammad Merhi? What about the Christian priest that was recently assassinated? What about the truth of Zaynab Hosny and Hamza Al-Khateeb. There is a media war against Syria. Why do you think all of a sudden Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the rest of the Arab league are now speaking up, because it’s in their interest to install a Wahhabi regime. What about U.S? Does this not remind you of Libya? That is, if you are someone who recognized that the U.S. clearly didn’t care about the Libyan people when NATO intervened. Not to mention none of those who support this revolution said a word about Egypt or Tunisia, and now Yemen, let a long Bahrain.

    I dare you to search the father of this so-called revolution, Adnan Ar’our. Is this who will have influence in the country if Bashar Al Assad’s regime is toppled?

    By the way, anyone hear of the new constitution that the majority voted for in a referendum. Or the release of political prisoners? Or the elimination of martial law? Or the reforms Bashar Al Assad has been making since he came to power. Higher education in Syria is free, poor people are given benefits. There’s going to be elections in 2 years. Not that any of the protesters really want freedom or democracy (not Western liberal democracy).

    Not to say the current regime is perfect, or even something I would say I support, but I definitely will not support an army killing civilians who represent the opposition and I acknowledge that the president does not have complete control over Syrian police and the army, of which by the way more than 2000 have been killed, and many gruesomely.

  6. “Disgusted”, are you part of the opposition? Being as violent as you sound, you kinda prove my point. I’m not sure why anyone would be offended. I acknowledge people dying, and I am sad for all the deaths, but I’m suggesting that logic shows the blame should shift from the government, to armed terrorists.

  7. And I support the Syrian people, and what I’ve seen is the majority supports the government, and condemns the terrorists. If you’re supporting your own interest then I would see why you would be offended.

  8. I am not surprised that people like “free thinker” are taking so much time and effort to copy paste responses to anti Assad articles. The secret police of Syria pay thousands of informants and activists to post comments and submit articles in the different media outlets they choose. Their lies and deception is quite clear and consists of chilling false tales of the so called terrorists and how the government is so good to its people. Just ask my uncle who went to jail for two years for doing nothing and lost his hearing in one ear due to the severe abuse they commit in jail or my other uncle who was taken at age 15, 28 yrs ago probably dead now. We don’t dare ask or they will take us too. Recently the government took my friends two brothers shot them and dumped their bodies at their mothers doorstep. The government has all the weapons and tanks plus planes so the real terrorists are the ones that are killing the protesters who are , which of course any sane person can see is the Assad regime run by his blood thirsty family makhloufs. He will fall and all of his informants will pay for their trechory. We all know freedom is not free and the civilians are now paying the price. Freedom will come soon.

  9. First I am a Canadian citizen and have no interest for bribes and money, and have no connection to the Syrian government.
    Second did you take the time and research my words to see if they were copy-paste? These are my own words and I have been researching the topic, unlike some who jump when they hear calls of "freedom" " oppression" "tyrant".
    I didn't say the government is perfect. People are sometime unreasonably jailed sometimes under martial law, without giving notice to high officials, let alone the President himself. This law was present for years and I agree it is a horrible law. But that is exactly why it has been abolished, and the only people who are being arrested now are those who were involved in terrorizing cities in Syria. If the regime was so brutal, they would have arrested that liar Dany Abd Al Dayem who faked his reports, including his so-called injuries by the Syrian army (in three different interviews he shows wounds in three different spots–not too smart either). Many Syrian wanted reforms, but are now asking the army to protect civilians from the terrorist, also now overtly known as Free Syrian Army. Did you search any of the names I mentioned? Or do they not have value? There are many accounts of distortion of news, images, even staged massacres. Did you flinch to anything I said? Or are you blinded by the media war–too emotionally taken to consider what is true. Again what does a new constitution mean to you?
    The West discounts the majority of Syrian who voted for it, and everyone else is following them in believe they are not Syrians. Who are Syrian? Those who support armed gangs? Even if and I mean IF, the army was killing civilians, and this was a true revolution, why not remain peaceful and sincere, like in Bahrain. Since the beginning people were being killed by armed gangs and framing the government officials, and honestly I feel like I am repeating myself so you can refer to my above comment, and if you can respond to my claims using proof and logic be my guest, otherwise don't throw silly accusations like the government is paying me, and the government is blood thirsty.
    I find it much easier to believe armed gangs who have distorted views of religion and are being funded from outside dictatorships like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and from Hariri from Lebanon, could kill people, than a secular government whose leader is an educated man. Have you seen any interview with Bashar Al Assad? And some dysfunctional people actually compare him to Gaddafi, or Mubarak, or Ali Saleh.

  10. Free thinker thank you for your comments and all the names you've dropped I've got a lot of research ahead (good thing it's my newest hobby.) Sonya sounds like your the "copy paste" forgive me if you are sincere, but just saying the pentagon is using counter intelligence to confuse the masses as well…

  11. First I am a Canadian citizen and have no interest for bribes and money, and have no connection to the Syrian government.
    Second did you take the time and research my words to see if they were copy-paste? These are my own words and I have been researching the topic, unlike some who jump when they hear calls of “freedom” ” oppression” “tyrant”.
    I didn’t say the government is perfect. People are sometime unreasonably jailed sometimes under martial law, without giving notice to high officials, let alone the President himself. This law was present for years and I agree it is a horrible law. But that is exactly why it has been abolished, and the only people who are being arrested now are those who were involved in terrorizing cities in Syria. If the regime was so brutal, they would have arrested that liar Dany Abd Al Dayem who faked his reports, including his so-called injuries by the Syrian army (in three different interviews he shows wounds in three different spots–not too smart either). Many Syrian wanted reforms, but are now asking the army to protect civilians from the terrorist, also now overtly known as Free Syrian Army. Did you search any of the names I mentioned? Or do they not have value? There are many accounts of distortion of news, images, even staged massacres. Did you flinch to anything I said? Or are you blinded by the media war–too emotionally taken to consider what is true. Again what does a new constitution mean to you?
    The West discounts the majority of Syrian who voted for it, and everyone else is following them in believe they are not Syrians. Who are Syrian? Those who support armed gangs? Even if and I mean IF, the army was killing civilians, and this was a true revolution, why not remain peaceful and sincere, like in Bahrain. Since the beginning people were being killed by armed gangs and framing the government officials, and honestly I feel like I am repeating myself so you can refer to my above comment, and if you can respond to my claims using proof and logic be my guest, otherwise don’t throw silly accusations like the government is paying me, and the government is blood thirsty.
    I find it much easier to believe armed gangs who have distorted views of religion and are being funded from outside dictatorships like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and from Hariri from Lebanon, could kill people, than a secular government whose leader is an educated man. Have you seen any interview with Bashar Al Assad? And some dysfunctional people actually compare him to Gaddafi, or Mubarak, or Ali Saleh.

  12. Free thinker thank you for your comments and all the names you’ve dropped I’ve got a lot of research ahead (good thing it’s my newest hobby.) Sonya sounds like your the “copy paste” forgive me if you are sincere, but just saying the pentagon is using counter intelligence to confuse the masses as well…