The Syrian regime tortured prisoners with a range of brutal methods, including forcing prisoners to torture each other, said Syrian public speaker and human rights activist Omar Alshogre in an interview with Al Hadath on Saturday.
Alshogre, from a village Syria’s Tartus province, was arrested when he was 15 years old and spent a total of three years in detention after being arrested seven times between 2011 and 2013. While Alshogre eventually managed to escape as a refugee to Sweden after his mother secured his release from prison in 2015, several of his family members including his father, brothers, and cousins were killed in regime prisons.
How did Assad’s prisons shape me?— Omar Alshogre (@omarAlshogre) June 11, 2020
On June 11, 2015, I escaped Assad’s jails. I was weak, sick, covered in blood, half-naked, scared, lost. Today, that same day five years later, I’m strong and healthy, filled with pride and interested in fashion, setting out on my own path. pic.twitter.com/guaun42t8a
“I was studying and my father wanted me to become an engineer and my mother wanted me to become a doctor. And I had a lot of studying to do. They raided the home where I was living with my cousins, Bachir, Rashad and Nour,” Alshogre told Al Hadath, which is Al Arabiya's sister channel.
“Bachir and Rashad died under torture. In May 2013 … my father and two brothers, Mohammed and Othman, were killed by the regime. So I lost my brothers and father, in addition to my childhood friends and cousins during the massacres by the regime,” he explained.
Some reports have claimed the crackdown on Rami #Makhlouf is led by Asma al-#Assad, the president’s wife, whose networks of businessmen, among them her family, compete with Makhlouf. Find out more about her role here. #Syriahttps://t.co/Vxx9BLpzjK pic.twitter.com/byniXN5WO4— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) June 6, 2020
Torture methods in Syrian prisons
Alshogre also gave details of the methods of torture used in the prisons.
“Some methods involved tying a prisoner’s hands behind his back or tying his hands to the ceiling. Shoulders were [jerked out of place with these methods],” said Alshogre.
“For the older prisoners, it was a different situation. Tearing off fingernails is something the Syrian “Mukhabarat” [the Syrian security services] are notorious for. They also burn [prisoners] with cigarettes a lot,” he said.
One method involved forcing prisoners to torture each other, including their family relatives.
“The most difficult form of torture was when they sit me down and ask how many officers I had killed. I would tell them none. And then they would hang my cousin in front of me and say as long as I didn’t speak, they would torture him. After an hour, they would bring my cousin and give him a cable and an electric stick and tell him to torture me or else they would torture us and both and we would die together. So prisoners were forced to torture each other,” Alshogre told Al Hadath.
Using the word “allegedly” is a slap in the face of the victims of this genocidal massacre and their families. And we have documented well over 300 civilians slaughtered including my dad, brothers and childhood friends. This is a disappointing tweet. https://t.co/zQpVzeZILm— Omar Alshogre (@omarAlshogre) May 4, 2020
Alshogre now lives in Sweden and is the director of detainee affairs at the Syrian Emergency Task Force.
While the regime of President Bashar al-Assad remains in power in Syria, two former intelligence officers have been on trial in the German city of Koblenz since April. The officers are accused of complicity in torture at Damascus’ Al-Khatib prison between 2011 and 2012.