Prisons, Freedom and Homeland

I was asked several times after I came out of the prison, especially after my arrival in Turkey “Do you feel in freedom now?”. My answer was that I feel safe from the treachery of the regiem, but I am very far from the sense of freedom, and I haven’t been closed even. In fact, I felt in absolute freedom once,  for half an hour. When I was swimming in the sea two weeks ago, I came across a couple of bluegill fish in a finger size, or a bit bigger, and jellyfish in human-eye size eye. I dived toward them and tried to catch some, but the squadron escaped from between my fingers and regrouped again away from me. Then, I went to the jellyfinsh, it wasn’t affraid of me, so that, it didn’t escape; to be said, it has no mine. I touched it by my finger, and I could not believe smoothness; it continued moving as if nothing had happened. I liked the game, I went to the fish again, and then to the gellyfins, then back to the fish.

adraa

the gate of Adraa Prison (the central prison of Damascus)


There was no time and no space, I became completely outside of them. I can not say that I felt the moment as eternal, and the space as infinit. There was absolutely no time and no place, everything faded way. I stayed with the fish, the gellyfish, the starfish, the seaweeds and the small rocks in our simple existence state. I felt that I’m free from all things, from all desires, from all fears of the past and the future, and from violence and love. I remained in that state of “open existence”; perhaps, it was a rare moment of emancipation. When I came out of the water, restrictions returned again tightening me without being able to escape, or maybe I do not want to.


I l
eft behined, in prisons and the undergounds of al-Mukhabarat, the beloved ones and friends who occupied part of my mind and my heartك I do not know the fate of many of them. I left thousands of detainees who undergo fear and anxiety, if not about their fate, it would be about the fate of their families, their mothers, fathers, wives, brothers, sisters and children. Was’nt it enough to say “families” without counting them one by one? No! It’s not enough! They are the life of the detainees and the largest source of fear and pain. I also add that, I left behine the female detainees who I have never met prisons, but I heard their news and heard about their suffering, which exceeds any perception and exceeds anything we, the mail detainees, have experienced. Even in Damascus Central Prison, which is a civic prison, they are being mistreated, more than the male detainees in the same prison:Harassment, humiliation and the lack of resources, and worst than that,  they are being denied by their families and the whole community.


W
e, the Syrians, should be ashamed of ourselves that some of the wives and daughters of detainees and martyrs use their bodies to get medicine, food and housing for themselves and their children. Stop blaming this and that, despite of everything that the west, east, south and north are responsible of. If we do not we care enough about our each others’ pain, who would? Detainees are not a media event, and do not need conferences costing thousands of dollars, if they even got a conference. Abu Zein was in need for only fifty dollars, to cover the travel expenses for his wife and his daughter whom he has never seen since she was born a year and a half before. Ahmed, who used to provide aid to families, told me that one day he went to check on a family which had requested aid. A young lady, who has two children and whose husband was forcibly disappeared, opened the door. When Ahmed told her that he put her name on the list and her turn would come be within few days, she left for few minutes and then returned back half-naked and asked him “Can we get one cup of rice right now? The children had not eaten for three days ago”. How we, the Syrians, easitly judges others from inside our castels.


Thousands of dollars were spent on shopping from the most famous brands during the “Geneve 2”, while the case of the detainees was opened for discussion so late. When the case was opened, a list of names was requested, so the negotiators were confused about who to call to get the names! Millions of dollars are spent on training that generate huge profits for those who make it, as well as millions are spent on projects that no one thinks their feasibilities. Many are engaged in the same game: the Syrians of them need to tell themselves that they are doing something, and they also need to earn theri living, and non-Syrians of them (ie funders) need to say they provide support for the poor Syrians, as well as those who need to spend the budget to get more in the next year . Thus millions spin much less than the potential feasibility, and some of them are being spent for self-entertainment after “a hard working day”.


There are about three hundred Syrian organizations only  in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, as far as I know. As well as a little or a lot more than a thousand young Syrians working in those organizations. The overwhelming majority of them are employed, volunteer work is very little in Gaziantep. There are about four hundred thousand Syrians in the same city, but organizations are not able to do much to alleviate their suffering, nor are they able to take advantage of such huge human resources. The irony is that the circles of the workers in organizations and are rarely intersect with other Syrian circles, though both live in his own world (as far as I know, of course). I’m not judging anyone, and I have not right to do, especially with regard to the human right to earn a living; but the issue could be managed differently and more feasibly for the freedom and dignity of all Syrians.
Solidarity before training!


Syrian organizations, and Syrian workers have their own concerns, in Gaziantep and other Turkish cities. The same applies to all Syrians in Turkey. No one knows his fate a few months later, and sometimes the next day! They do not have the rights of refugees, they are guests more than being refugees. Guests have to comply with “etiquette” which differs from duties, and the host grants rather than protects rights. If a Syrian has children, and this is mostly, the future would be more frightening. Thousands of children and young people have lost years of their education, and many have totally lost any opportunity for education! They are tied in Turkey. Though some of them were lucky and were able to migrate to Europe, and survived the humiliation and insult all the way to the dignity, they would ge strangers. Stranger Syrian with dignity, but they’re still constrained by temporary settlement state which does not allow him to move freely; and they would be under the pressure to integrate in the new societies, and what if they could not? This is understoodable from the point of view of the destination countries, but it is also understoodable why the Syrians to continue to suffer, and it is getting worst every day?


The whole world became circles of of imprisoning for the Syrians, from small cells at al-Mukhabarat prisons, to the larger rooms in the civil prisons, to the great prison: Assad’s Syria. Outside Assad’s Syria,  the Syrian secure his/her life and could achieve a measure of dignity if he/she was outside camps, particularly Lebanon and Jordan camps. The level of the dignity felt differs according to the country a Syrian chooses, or been chosen by destiny! How can I feel free outside the my homeland? But is there a freedom in my homeland? I don’t exaggerate  and don’t claim when I say that I felt in freedom in the central prison in Adra more than now, but the feeling of security was not exist. Now I can move within incomparably larger areas , I can express whatever I want. By the way, some of my friends have warned me from saying what I believe in, because it might upset some of the revolutionaries, islamists or secularists! I do not know why I felt more in freedom there!


Anyway, w
hat does homeland means? This question was asked in a careful discussion session in Adra prison. Is it the birthplace, where man spent his/her childhood years, and where his/her family belongs to? Or is it the place where human dignity is preserved? Or, is it the group to which a man belongs to, the homeland is where this group is? There is no doubt that there is no definitive answer to this question. But the baby feels safe on the chest of its mother. It may feel that the large body is an extension of is ownt body, which makes it feels more power, more secured. Perhaps, man seeks to acquire land to be a firm extension of his/her own body and his/her existence. Perhaps man seeks seeks for affiliation to be more extended, any more secured. Even outsiders themselves are affiliated to “outsiderness”; that’s why atheists made atheisim as anew religion which could be more extreme, and more rejecting the others.


The momory and the self and the world consciousness of man is shaped where
he/she is growen up and communicates. He/she become some of the place and the community, and the palce and the community becomes the most of him/her. He/her establishes strong ties with them, and they become an extension of him/her. But the a man is a unique individual; he/she likes everyone else, but is no one else. But, when the place and the group is trying to swallow the uniqueness and deprive him/her of liberty, he/she feels alienated in his/her own homeland and might revolt; he/she also might extract himself/herself to another place and another group, where he/she wishes to practice self individuality. But the uniqueness becomes alienation again! He/she cannot practice his/her own unique self, because some of him/her is no longer here, but there: He/she became very unique!


My homeland is where I can practice myself with its uniqueness and with its extension in place and the community, it is where I am free and where my memory can live. It is where I harmonize with with the some of myself which doesn’t like anything else, and with the some of myself which likes everything around, even stones, sand and water. I may understand now why you felt more in freedom in prison: It seems that I was consistent with myself more than now! Would I go back? My homeland is Syria and among the Syrians, where there are some of me. My homeland is the free Syria, where I practice my uniqeness with the unique and diverse Syrians. The uniques, even in the collective sense, in their ability to survive and live in spite of everything, who wrote the history of thousands of years in their genes.


Would I feel that I’m in my homeland when I go back to Syria, whether to the liberated areas, or to Damascus after the fall of the regime? Would many Syrians accept the uniqueness of mine and of many others? I do not allude only to only islamists, but also to secularists. Only the Syria of freedom is my homeland and the homeland of all Syrians, Syria without Assad or any other Assadism.

It is a revolution has begun, and the painstakings to be ready for joy.

Written in Arabic and published on Aljumhuriya on Sep.29.2015

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