regime

A Syrian bodybuilder in prison: Rife with contagious disease starvation

While in prison for nearly two-and-a-half years, Shahabi went from 273 pounds to just 97. Photo courtesy of Ibrahim Shahabi

While in prison for nearly two-and-a-half years, Shahabi went from 273 pounds to just 97. Photo courtesy of Ibrahim Shahabi

 

A Syrian bodybuilder in prison: Rife with contagious disease, starvation, ‘I buried prisoners with my own hands’

A recent SNHR report estimates the number of arrests by all parties over the course of the Syrian war at 215,000 people, the vast majority detained by Assad regime agents.

One of these detainees was Ibrahim Shahabi, a well-known bodybuilding champion from Aleppo. He was arrested at his gym on charges of selling pharmaceuticals without a license in late January 2011, charges Shahabi calls “preposterous and totally untrue.”

And so began 30 months of a prison sentence that left those who did not die so hungry that they ate pieces of the wall. Shahabi’s description of prison life resembles the Middle Ages in every way, down to the guards fearing contagious diseases from the increasingly ragged prisoners: “They would throw us our measly rations from the bottom of the cell door, and if someone died, they would throw us the key from the cell window so we could bury the victim in the yard,” he tells Syria Direct’s Alaa Nassar.

Shahabi, who had family and friends active in the Free Syrian Army (FSA), was one of seven detainees released during an FSA-regime prisoner exchange in July 2013.

After leaving prison 176 pounds lighter along with several unhealed broken bones and other injuries, Shahabi is now back to training. Today he lives in Turkey, and is competing again in international bodybuilding competitions—under the revolutionary banner.

Q: When was your arrest? What were the charges against you, and why was your release delayed if these charges were fabricated?

I was born in 1977 in the city of al-Baab a-Shamali in Aleppo province to a well-off family. I opened a gym after finishing my compulsory service in Syria and I too was doing well.

I was arrested on January 28, 2011 and sent to the central prison in Aleppo after being accused of illegally selling pharmaceuticals without a license. These accusations are preposterous and totally untrue. I was a member of the Syrian Sports Federation and a certified international referee. I had won more than 15 awards in Syrian and Arab bodybuilding competitions.

Before my arrest, I was traveling and studying in Europe. I was learning how to design women’s shoes and training young people in gyms. In 1996, I came back to Syria to see my parents after a long time away, but the authorities stopped me at the airport and immediately dragged me off to perform my compulsory military service, believing me to be a deserter.

I spent five years in the military and subsequently in prison as a punishment for fleeing my service. After I finished my prison term, I decided to open a gym in Aleppo and settled down in my hometown. That is, until 2011 and the arrest.

At the time of my arrest, I was at my gym, which I opened in the Hanaano district [a neighborhood in northeast Aleppo city]. I was arrested on drug smuggling charges. Obviously, I had absolutely no connection to this. I was an international athlete and won international medals across Europe and in Syria.

With regard to my delayed release, the prison officials cheated everyone out of their money. Every single dollar that was spent to secure our release was in vain; the regime did not release a single person. On the contrary, we were exposed to the worst types of abuse and torture in prison, and I was one of those victims. Just compare the pictures and videos of me from before and after my arrest and you will see the violence and starvation that I faced in prison.

While in prison for nearly two-and-a-half years, Shahabi went from 273 pounds to just 97. Photo courtesy of Ibrahim Shahabi.

Q: Tell us about what you experienced in prison.

One time I tried to escape along with 13 other prisoners, but once we reached the prison wall, the sniper locked in on me. The guards arrested me along with 10 prisoners, though three were able to escape. They later appeared on Al Jazeera together where they talked about their suffering in the prison. Meanwhile, we returned to our cells where the guards tortured us and broke our bones. Despite these incomprehensible struggles, I did not surrender; rather, what I saw and what I experienced in the prison strengthened my resolve and my determination not to become a victim of these heinous crimes.

Since the beginning of the revolution and our arrest, we were isolated from the rest of the prisoners in an attempt to portray us as terrorists. There were approximately 630 prisoners, with five people to a cell, rooms no bigger than 1 x 1.5 meters. After our failed escape attempt, each person was individually isolated.

During this time, people died, whom I buried with my own hands. In the end, only one other person besides me survived. It was only because of my athletic physique that I was able to bear the physical pressures, psychological torture, and the slow death in comparison to those prisoners who were less fortunate.

The guards forced us to bury our dead in the prison yard out of their fear of getting infected by our diseases.

I don’t know where to begin in describing the regime’s brutality towards its political prisoners; it’s unspeakable. The methods of torture were unimaginable, something that no human mind can comprehend. Even as we filed out after being tortured, one by one we would be struck without reason with metal rods—blows raining down on our heads and bodies with reckless abandon.

I came out of prison with three fractures to my head, one to my shoulder, and a deformed back all due to these beatings. Since leaving prison, I have undergone 11 plastic surgery operations for my back, and still I suffer from the fractures that I sustained while in prison. The operations, which are still ongoing, have cost $30,000.

As prisoners, we received monthly rations of one loaf of bread and two liters of water. That’s it. In spent 30 months in this environment with many prisoners. I came in weighing 124 kilograms (273 pounds). By the time I left, I weighed only 44 kilograms (97 pounds).

Worms were eating at my friends. Those who managed to cling to life were filthy beyond imagination. We had such little water and were not allowed to bathe, which led to the spread of tuberculosis and diarrhea, which I suffered from. Having bread and water, this was a dream for us. We were eating the wall out of sheer hunger. Throughout all of this, it was forbidden for any guard to speak with us.

Q: Can you describe the process of being tortured?

For the first six months, the torture was every hour. It came in so many ways, without mercy or compassion. However, after tuberculosis, diarrhea, and other infectious diseases came into the barracks, the guards refrained from entering out of fear that they too would be infected. They would throw us our measly rations from the bottom of the cell door, and if someone died, they would throw us the key from the cell window so that we could leave to bury the person in the yard.

Q: How did you learn of the deaths of your friends? How did you inform the prison guards of the news?

I would shout loudly and continuously until they responded. We were all isolated, trapped behind bars, and so everyone was accountable for the person in the next cell over. We would call to the next cell, and if the person responded, he was alive. If he didn’t respond, that meant he was dead, in which case we’d call the guards so that we could bury him.

One of my relatives was an assistant officer in the prison, and he was shocked when he saw me still clinging to life. I didn’t take advantage of his being there because the guards were prohibited from entering except for one Alawite officer [names officer.]

It’s also worth mentioning that my relative left with the Red Crescent and defected during the course of our release.

Q: When and how were you released?

I was released on July 10, 2013 following negotiations that the Red Crescent mediated between the opposition and the regime. Seven people were released from prison, myself included, in exchange for three officers, including a shabiha commander.

My name was the first one to be submitted for release given my close ties with the Free Syrian Army. Several of their leaders, particularly my brother in the a-Tawhid Brigade, were demanding my release.

Q: How did you rebuild your life following your release?

After my release from prison, I left Aleppo and went to Turkey on April 2, 2014. I got back into sports and physical training, and, thanks to God, began working as a trainer at a sports club in Istanbul.

I’ve coached five Syrian champions in Turkey, including Hassan a-Nasan, Mahmood Hassan, and Hassan al-Khalid, who have performed very well on the national level. I am now training to participate in the European Bodybuilding Championships under the Free Syria banner.

I have been very vocal in my dissent against the regime, and when I participate, I will raise a photo of Erdogan because he is the only one who has supported me in my recent competitions.

Q: Describe the challenges you faced as an athlete before the revolution. Contrast that with your participation in the Public Authority for Youth and Sports, an organization funded and supported by both the opposition in exile and the Turkish government.

Regarding the pressures that we faced before the revolution, the regime always played dirty and trampled on our rights. For example, every year in the city of Basil in Latakia province, there was a tournament called “Mr. Beach.” These Alawite guys would participate, and, of course, every year they would come in first place in the tournament even if the competitors had better bodies.

We also never received any of the prize money that the Sports Federation provided for the athletes. It was either stolen or distributed to the Alawite athletes.

Today, the situation is completely different. It’s possible for us to voice our opinions, work together, and do everything in our power to comfortably train our young men and women with the support and cooperation of the Public Authority. We are working to foster a new generation of professional athletes, far removed from the disgusting politics of the Baath Party, which robbed us of our rights.

I have promised that I will establish myself once again and come back to my fitness club stronger than ever. This last year I have been training a team called “Free Syria” for the bodybuilding championships, and for the second time in a row, we got first place in Turkey, and our people are getting ready for the European championships. This year, I will participate in the tournament in Spain.

Q: Can you describe what it is like dealing with countries in order to participate in the athletic championships? Who is funding you and the Syrian teams?

Funding and support comes from the Turkish Sports Federation. I will participate in the world championships through Turkey, joining the league and training participants, given that I do not own a club. In addition to being an athletic trainer, I work on the side as a designer of women’s shoes for Schuster’s Shoes. After I finish my day with the company, I go down to the gym and start training. When I was in Italy, I was working as a women’s shoes designer before I ever entered the field of professional sports.

Q: How do you see the Assad regime today?

Since the moment I was arrested at the airport in 1996 before I even got the chance to see my parents, I have viewed the regime as broken and a failure. In my opinion, since the start of the revolution, there is nothing that remains that can be called a regime.

The regime fell when it began destroying the country and killing its people. I am unable to describe the brutality, criminality, and sheer barbarism of its actions. Even though I have seen it first-hand with my own eyes in the prison, my mind is still unable to fully comprehend what I experienced.
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Samuel Kieke

Samuel Kieke was a 2014-2015 CASA I fellow in Amman, Jordan. He received his BA from the University of Texas at Austin in Arabic Language and Literature, Middle Eastern Studies, and International Relations and Global Studies.

Alaa Nassar

Alaa was forced to flee Damascus with her family because of the pressure from the Syrian regime in 2013. She was a student of Arabic Language & Literature at the University of Damascus. She came to Syria Direct because she hopes to find a new direction in her life and to show the world what is happening in her country.

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Article from: http://syriadirect.org/news/a-syrian-bodybuilder-in-prison-rife-with-contagious-disease-starvation-%E2%80%98i-buried-prisoners-with-my-own-hands%E2%80%99/

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Enforced Disappearance in Syria by Assad Regime

A prisoner’s Dream

I dream of seeing my family even if only for one hour.
I want to kiss my kdis and make sure they are alive.
Even if I come back to die, I don’t mind.
_____________________________________________________________

I dream of getting out of here.
I don’t wanna waste my life here.
If I am released now, I may still be able to catch up with my
University exams…
Maybe, I wouldn’t lose that much then…

_____________________________________________________________

I dream of an antibiotic pill to cure the skin inflammation
and dimples that are eating me up.
I want to get rid of the humiliation and the ugliness of my
“scales-like” skin so that those who carry my body for burial
would not be disgusted and my cell-mates are not repulsed by
the rotting smell.

_____________________________________________________________

I am craving for a piece of pistachio sweets.

_____________________________________________________________

Detained doctor: ‘Prisoners just want to die to end the pain’


Save The Rest
Published on Sep 22, 2015

This is what’s happening in Assad’s prisons #SaveTheRest … They deserve to live freely!
هذا جزء مما يحصل في سجون الأسد : ورود سوريا وخيرة أبناء سوريا وبناتها تغتال بصمت… أنقذوا البقية .. لأننا نحتاجهم .. لأنهم يستحقون الحياة

Syria Refugees Crisis – Help is Coming

Published on Sep 10, 2015

A short film by director Mat Whitecross, in support of Save The Children’s Refugee Crisis Appeal
http://helpiscoming.org
Download the single: http://po.st/9GDAYa
Pre-order the vinyl: http://www.vfeditions.com/product/vie…

Text GIVE to 61144 to donate £5 (UK only)*
For international donations, go to http://www.helpiscoming.org

Interview footage
Director/Filmed by: Simon Rawles
Producers: Mustafa Khalili, Richard Sprenger, Angela Robson
Assistant producers: Karl Schembri

*For full terms and conditions visit the website http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/t-a…

Syria Assad Regime Silent War Crime: Systematic Mass Rape

Rape is use as weapon of war and as a tool of ethnic domination

Evidence is piling up that the Assad regime has used rape – of daughters in front of fathers, wives in front of husbands – as a targeted weapon to control, intimidation, and humiliation throughout the conflict.

Rape appears to be utilized during this conflict in horrifyingly soul-crushing, creative ways. Beyond simply raping detainees, Shabiha members or Syrian army soldiers have reportedly carried out the rapes of family members or other women in front of prisoners. Young boys were also assaulted while they were held in government detention.

The head of the Syrian League for Human Rights Abdel Karim Rihaoui has no doubt: “It is a political choice made to crush the people. Technique, sadism, perversity: Everything is meticulously organized.
________________________________________________________________________________________
A young girl from Hama, currently a refugee in the United States, who was at home with her three brothers when soldiers burst in and told the three men to rape their sister. The first refused; they decapitated him. The second refused; he suffered the same fate. The third accepted; they killed him on the girl, whom they then raped.
________________________________________________________________________________________
27-year-old mother of four, a graduate in management, was arrested at a checkpoint in the suburbs of Damascus. She spent 38 days in a detention center of the air force intelligence services, with around 100 other women.

“I’ve been through everything! I’ve been battered, flogged with steel cables, had cigarette butts in the neck, razor blades all over my body, electricity in my vagina. I’ve been raped while blindfolded every day by several men who stank of alcohol and obeyed their superior’s orders, who was always there. They shouted: “You wanted freedom? Well here it is!”
________________________________________________________________________________________
“The girls would generally be shot when everyone had finished,” the Syrian soldier said. “They wanted it to be known in the neighborhoods that the girls had been raped, but they didn’t want the girls to survive and be able to identify them later.”
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“The security forces and the Shabiha took whole families outside after destroying their homes,” a woman named Amaltold the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat in June 2012. “They stripped my girls from their clothes, raped them then killed them with knives. They were shouting: ‘You want freedom? This is the best brand of freedom.’”
________________________________________________________________________________________
“I saw maybe 100 women stripped naked and used as human shields, forced to walk on all sides of the army tanks during the fighting. When their tanks rolled back into the Alawite neighbourhood, the women disappeared with them.”
________________________________________________________________________________________
A group of Syrian army soldiers had come to their house in Homs, tied up their father and brother, and raped the three women in front of them. The woman cried as she went on to describe how after raping them the soldiers opened their legs and burned their vaginas with cigarettes. They allegedly told the women during this: “You want freedom? This is your freedom.”
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They put a bag on her head and led her to the basement of a detention center, where she was thrown into a pitch black cell full of rats. She spent two days in solitary confinement, with no food or water, before joining two other women in a tiny cell where she spent six months. “We couldn’t lie down. We weren’t allowed to wash ourselves, even during our periods. We were raped every day, as they chanted: “We Alawites will destroy you.” A single sign of protest and we had electric prods in the vagina or anus. They beat me so much that they broke my leg. It turned black. My family didn’t hear about me for six months. As I can’t read or write, I signed any confession with my index finger.” When she was released, her husband had disappeared with their car.
________________________________________________________________________________________

Syria Assad Regime use rape as a weapon of war

Confessions of an Assad ‘Shabiha’ loyalist: how I raped and killed for £300 a month
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9400570/Confessions-of-an-Assad-Shabiha-loyalist-how-I-raped-and-killed-for-300-a-month.html

Syria’s Silent War Crime: Systematic Mass Rape
http://www.iht.com/2014/03/12/syrias-silent-war-crime-systematic-rape/

Syria rape crisis
https://asadinvestigations.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/rape-crisis/

For How Much Longer Will the Syrian People Suffer

From dumb bombs to precision weapons, Bashar al-Assad regime ramps up airstrikes…

To date (11/24/2014), 197,387 people have been killed. Of them, 62,347 are civilians, including 6,468 women, 20,000 children.

Of the non-civilians: 34,060 are rebel fighters, 21,343 are non-Syrian jihadis, 43,396 are regime forces, 2,381 are de-facto regime forces — people who used to be in the army and are fighting for the regime — 28,198 are from militias allied to the regime, 620 are Hezbollah, 2,075 are Shia militia supporting the regime, and 2,958 are unknown persons.

We think there are at least 80,000 more deaths than we have recorded, mostly of fighters. We are 99 percent certain that our civilian casualty figures are accurate.

Syria Civil War Assad Regime killing his own people

Read more Articles:
Inside The Advocacy Group That Keeps Track Of Syria’s War Casualties

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/24/syrian-observatory-for-human-rights_n_6201182.html

The Qusayr Rules: The Syrian Regime’s Changing Way of War

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/the-qusayr-rules-the-syrian-regimes-changing-way-of-war

Syria President Bashar al-Assad
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bashar_al-Assad

#Syria #savesyria #savesyriaschildren #speakup4syrianchildren #savethechildren #ASSAD #AssadCrimes #AssadWarcrimes #AssadGenocide #AssadHolocaust #syria_crisis #syria_conflict #syriacivilwar #torture #syrian_torture #syrian_refugees #childrenofsyria #Damascus #Aleppo #homs #Idlib #hama #basharassad #UN #humanrightsday #syrian_humanrights #FSA #syrie #TortureReport #Syrians #syriaregime #chemicalweapons #alllivesmatter #bashar #al-assad #basharalassad #massacre #SyriaAssad #SyriaAssadWar #AssadCrimes #AssadWarcrimes #AssadGenocide #AssadHolocaust #daraa #raqqa #freesyria #syriacrisis #alllivesmatter #AssadRegime #freedom #douma #NO2VETO #humanrights #humanity #JeSuisCharlie #SaveSyriasChildren #FRANCE #QUÉBEC #CANADA #AUSTRALIA #USA #UK #EU #RUSSIA #CHINA #CUBA #VENEZUELA #GERMANY #UKRAINE #Jordan #Turkey #Lebanon #Iraq #ISIS #waronterror #beheadings #tortureprisoner #saudi #journalist #journalism #peterkassig #stevensotloff #davidhaines #jamesfoley #alanhanning #ISIS

Bashar al-Assad the Killing Machine

Assad Capitalizing On Airstrikes Against Islamic State. Shelling and bombing by the Syrian government intensifies in the two weeks since coalition air strikes against Isis began.

“Syrian warplanes used to shell us two or three times a week but now they target us every day thanks to the coalition forces,” Faris Samir, from Harm in the northern Idlib region, complained on Thursday.

Assad’s War Crimes:
* Over 9 million displaced
* Over 1.1 million injured & thousand maimed
* Over 250,000 murdered including some 20,000 children
* Over 250,000 detained & over 11,000 tortured to death
* Mass destruction across Syria

syria_assad_war_united_nation

Coalition air strikes against Isis aid Bashar al-Assad, Syrian rebels claim
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/09/syria-isis-bashar-al-assad-coalition-air-strikes

Assad: Terrorize the society and dry up the revolution

Syrians are being plucked off the street by Syrian security forces and paramilitaries and being ‘disappeared’ into torture cells.

“This is a deliberate strategy to terrorise families and communities – the panic of not knowing whether your husband or child is alive breeds such fear that it silences dissent.

Conflict in Syria

Read more articles:
85,000 persons forcibly disappeared in Syrian prisons
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13888-85000-persons-forcibly-disappeared-in-syrian-prisons

Up to 28,000 Syrians have ‘disappeared’ since uprising began
>http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/oct/18/28000-syrians-disappeared-uprising

There is no place left here for the regime after what they did to Hamza. Hamza Ali al-Khateeb was only 13 years old.
“His head was swollen, purple and disfigured. His body was a mess of welts, cigarette burns and wounds from bullets fired to injure, not kill. His kneecaps had been smashed, his neck broken, his jaw shattered and his penis cut off.

http://jonestream.blogspot.com/2011/05/syria-torture-forced-disappearance.html

http://al-shabaka.org/node/778