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Palestinian writer Salameh Kaileh detained, beaten, taunted in Syria

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Syrian authorities deported Palestinian writer Salameh Kaileh this week to Jordan after three weeks of detention and relentless torture and taunting over his anti-regime writings, the prominent writer told Al Arabiya late Wednesday.

Security forces had stormed Kaileh’s house on April 23.

“There was no violence at first. They took my computer, the laptop, USB storage devices and searched my files,” he said.

“They interrogated me in a rude manner about leaflets they found at my house entitled al-Yasari (The Leftist). I told them I had nothing to do with them.”

“They then took me to a security office. At first I didn’t know where I was exactly, but later I found out from other detainees that it was an air force intelligence office.”

“The authorities interrogated me. The main question they asked me was where did I print the leaflets? But I did not print them.”

Kaileh said a slogan in the leaflet which read: “For Palestine to be free, Syria’s regime has to fall,” was what the authorities feared most.

“It was their anger at this line, more than anything, which resulted in me being badly beaten.”

“When I said that I had nothing to do with the leaflets, I was hit and kicked so much that my legs could have been broken. I was hit with a wide wire cable so much that I fell on the ground. He [an officer] swore at me repeatedly. He’d ask the same question and I’d give the same answer; that I have nothing to do with the leaflets.”

Kaileh, 57, who holds a Jordanian passport, said he was hospitalized in Amman for bruises sustained during his detention.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Tuesday distributed several photographs showing large bruises and burns on Kaileh’s arms and legs.

Kaileh, born in Birzeit, West Bank, is a well-known leftist who has written books on subjects ranging from Marxism to Arab nationalism. He was imprisoned by the Syrian government in the 1990s for eight years.

Kaileh said the security officers would mock him and curse Palestinians.

“Of course there then was a lot of talk from them about how ‘the situation in Syria is more stable than all surrounding areas in the region’ and that I’m a Palestinian who is ‘playing with the events in Syria,’ while also cursing Palestinians.”

“What I experienced was only a fraction of what the other detainees, with whom I was imprisoned, were going through. They were being horrifically tortured,” Kaileh said.

According to the Observatory, more than 12,000 people, the majority of them civilians, have died since the uprising against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began on March 15, 2011, and that around 25,000 are in detention, AFP news agency reported.

Human rights organizations have denounced the “systematic torture” of detainees in Syria.

Amnesty International has said in a report based on the testimony of refugees now living in Jordan that “the extent of torture and abuse in Syria has reached a level not seen in years, and which evokes the dark era of the 1970s and 1980s.”

(Written by Eman El-Shenawi)