Pray for Bassel, Pray for Freedom


07 November 2015

Mohammad Dibo

Current editor-in-chief of SyriaUntold (Arabic). He is a Syrian poet, writer and researcher interested in Syrian culture and economy. Dibo's latest work is an autobiographical book, "Like He Who Witnesses His Own Death", about his experience in prison during the early days of the Syrian uprising. He is a regular contributor in many Arab and international newspapers.

Translated by: Lilah Khoja

Just two lines were enough to remind us of the pain that exists in the dystopia that is now Syria, a pain other than the dictatorship and ISIS’s fascism and the bombs that target children.

These two lines, were written by the wife of the prisoner Basel Safadi, on her Facebook page, and announced that security agents routinely come ‘Adra prison to take her husband, a detainee, to various unknown locations.

Bassel, a Palestinian-Syrian open-source software developer, was arrested March 15, 2012, the first anniversary of the Syrian revolution. Following his arrest, he remained in one of the security branches for 8 months, steadfast and unwavering. He was then transferred to ‘Adra prison, while waiting for the ruling of a field martial court. This court has yet to issue a ruling on the case.

‘Adra prison, located in north-eastern Damascus, is a prison belonging to the Syrian regime and is one of the most notorious prisons in Syria. It is only in Syria, a country run by a mad Tyrant, that a detainee can be arrested twice, three times, and four times while imprisoned and waiting for the results of his case.

There is a slight difference between ‘Adra prison and the detainment in the security branches. In ‘Adra, you are tortured to the brink of death, but kept alive. In the security branches, you are dead when you leave. The difference is like the difference between the outer circle of hell and the inner circle of hell, ruled by arrogance, brutality and madness.

Usually, when a detainee is moved from ‘Adra after a long period of detainment, this means they are about to be released, as happened to Mazen Darwish, Hussein Ghreer, Hani Zitani, and others. As such, we hope that this is the case with Bassel and not a new stage of imprisonment.

However, as we have learned from this fascist government, is that when they feel powerful, this translates into aggression towards peaceful dissidents, which is what has previously happened to Bassel. Bassel was moved a number of times between ‘Adra prison and Sednaya prison, another notorious prison. Will the Russian intervention then affect the way the regime deals with its prisoners? Will the regime resume its brutality, bolstered by its new believe in its success at beating back the revolution that caused it waver?

Noura, Bassel’s wife, wrote: Pray for Bassel. “Pray for Bassel” and these words fill us with a sense of powerlessness, despite our best efforts combat despair and cling to hope. Powerlessness, despite his wife writing about their love which has managed to transcend the prison’s walls, in a belief that love accomplishes the impossible. Despite these efforts, the noose of despair tightens around our throats, rendering love impossible. For love, and all that is beautiful, is sidelined In the age of authoritarianism; this is only natural. It is only natural that tyranny is the legitimate result of humiliation, silence, and oppression.

“Pray for Bassel” and so we shall pray together, atheists and believers, as we once did for freedom. This prayer for freedom is one repeated by many Syrians, and is the prayer on the lips of every detainee stuck in Assad’s tyrannical hell.

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Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad