Medical Student Samih Al-Bahra Arbitrary Detained at Risk of being Tortured & Killed

I never heard of his name before, Samih Al-Bahra. I guess that’s what it means to leave Damascus; you hear of new detainees, new faces, for the ones you already know are almost outside now – they too left Damascus.

سميح البحرة_n

Samih Al-Bahra, Medical student in his fifth year, detained in April 30th 2013.

I received a message on my Facebook couple of days ago from a close friend asking me to blog about the detention of Samih Al-Bahra who was detained on April 30th 2013. My friend was very worried, she knows of many friends who were detained then got severely tortured, some of them were tortured to death. Like my colleague at the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, Ayham Ghazzoul, a medical student who was detained in campus, tortured in campus, then brought to Air Force Intelligence‘s cell injured, and was left there to die in four days without being hospitalized. Ayham died in the arms of his cell-mate, who told us the story once he was released. That’s how you know of a detainee’s story in Syria, and that’s how you know of martyr’s story. Closure, is not exactly what you get, but something close to it.

I don’t know Samih, but I know Assad regime that arbitrary detains people, whether they’re activists or not, torture them and many times to death, hold them incommunicado, for months, a year, two years (if we’re only talking about the revolution).

I don’t know Samih but I know that any detainee in Syria is a risk of torture and death.

I know that Ayham Ghazzoul was brutally murdered by the Syrian state in a governmental institution.

Ayham Azzam Rajeh, who was a student at Pharmacy college, died under torture in May 2nd 2013.

Ali Shidad Haj Omar, was a detainee in Tudmor prison, killed under torture in May.

Kamal Mahmoul Mokalled was killed under torture in 30 April 2013.

Bassel Mahmoud Rashid, from Nabek village, was a detainee and killed under torture in April 11th 2013. He was his parent’s only child. 21 years old.

The list goes on. I wish I can say it doesn’t. As someone who was detained, I know that we can save a detainee’s life once we mention their names on our stupid online accounts; twitter, blogs, Facebook. Can you imagine? You can save a human life by just a click and a few words? It’s media, it’s letting the regime know we can beat it together. It’s humanizing a detainee who’s becoming a number.

Write for Samih, write for every detainee. You might be saving their lives.

I’ll be updating this post as soon as I get further information about Samih.



“If the “MiG” didn’t show up, it could’ve been just another ordinary day.
But it was there, looking for love to shatter, and blow away the features of my exile the “camp”, Palestine’s twin.
The bedroom, the beautiful nights and the morning coffee were all exposed to the streets and the main square. At that very moment, Dunia my love and my wife, was dead to me.
This movie is about the Palestinian refugee camp “al Yarmouk” on December 16th, when it was attacked by the Syrian regime’s “MiGs”, as a punishment for sheltering displaced Syrians & Palestinians whom lost their neighborhoods due to previous attacks.
It may seem the “MiGs” aimed to knock down the place, but the real target has been languishing the spirit people of the camp had. Yet, they’d never settle to that, even if the price will be an endless exile.”  From the description of the film, by Bidayyat, audiovisual arts.

The Revolutionary Cannot Speak

We were taught that the sun does not always shine
We were taught
Thousands mirrors worth a truthful face

We tried to unlearn, those many lines our memory cannot forsake
The revolution, we repeated, the revolution is the solution
A task we may never undertake

Our revolution is pure, and it is not White
It’s grounded and rooted in our sinful eyes

We are the people
We are the words of wisdom
Your books and think-tanks so eloquently did not foresee

The power lies in people
The Black Palestinian painfully teaches us

Why do I feel that I’ll soon be the last Syrian alive
40, 000 corpses can never lie
They lay underneath our sacred soil
They haunt us in protests
Occupy our banners
and online profiles

A burden I cannot bear
So like others, I long for the day I join the Shuhada

I cannot be the last Syrian alive
I cannot be the Syrian who left, and still alive

You think “critically” of our raw revolution, you say
You think and cite our savagery with references of youtube videos
You are as powerful as the states you oppose
States silence us with machine guns
They send us sleepless killers in black suits
States fight among each other
We have learned the drill

But you, like the White, speak on behalf of us
You are the intellectual whose privileged voice silenced our indigenous voices
You’re no friend of mine
The leftist, feminist and the pro Palestinian activist
Are names of spaces you proudly occupy
To me, they’re just another privileged class
You made it possible to become my enemy

Yes, I have said the word “enemy”
And I would say it in the class you teach
Below the many articles you publish
Where you could tell the world how my struggle isn’t consistent with yours

What is your struggle, I wonder
When you’re the diasporic subject and I am the postcolonial
I stand in front of systems, machines and propaganda
In my besieged land

Your battle has become my dream of freedom
Your intellect has become another bullet in my chest
A “friendly fire,” I do not call it

I am being silenced by your pen

The revolutionary cannot speak
She may never speak for years to come
She writes in her mother tongue
Speaks folky words and songs your memory can no longer grasp
The revolutionary speaks to her gender-less comrades
And you
The powerful male intellectual
You are not one.

How Peaceful Revolutionaries Turned into Relief Activists in Damascus

My second article for Arab Revolutions blog is now up!

A group of Syrians fleeing violence in their country, walk towards the Turkish border, near Reyhanli. (AP)

“With the start of a new academic year the regime has been emptying the schools from forced migrants. Where will those migrants who lost their homes go after regime shelled their cities and neighborhoods? You constantly feel helpless before these events.

There are families in Douma, a suburb of Damascus, living on 20USD a month, 20USD! Assad speaks of concessions, fine, these are Syrian citizens who are now homeless, isn’t this the state’s responsibility? The Syrian government has resigned all its responsibilities towards its citizens. Instead, the government is waging war against them.”

Ruba*, a relief NGO employee in Syria, explains how the urgency of the growing tragedy of forced migrants has forced many peaceful revolutionaries to work as relief activists:

“The regime is purposely creating a humanitarian crisis and forcing activists to deal with it.”

“We, the middle class, flourished during Assad’s era. We enjoyed new services, and we knew that our economic situation has gotten better, but only at the expense of the working class. The very people who are now leading the revolution are the ones who were neglected by the state. They lost their jobs and homes are scattered in gardens and schools depending on our aid: middle class aid. Our role in this revolution is completely different from theirs, we have privileges and a lot to lose; they don’t. We’re bunch of hypocrites.” Ruba leans her head back against the sofa and stares as water drops from the air-conditioning on her living room floor.

Read rest of the article here. Check the French translation of the article available here  and German translation here.

LCC: Regarding the Regime’s Crimes Against Palestinians

Below is Local Coordination Committee’s statement on the murder of senior Hamas official Kamal Ghnaja and what has been happening recently in several Palestinian camps in Syria. The statement came after several Palestinians have reported on Facebook that regime is trying to cause problems between Syrian and Palestinian communities in Palestinian camps. Palestinians in Syria in support of the revolution have created several pages on Facebook to report daily on the situation in the camps, and on Palestinians’ role in the Syrian revolution. Palestinian activists say that more than 150 Palestinians martyred in Syria, around 700 injured, and more than 35,000 detained. The statement goes as follows:

Since the beginning of the Revolution, the regime tried to fray the social fabric of Syrian society in an attempt to derail the Revolution’s goals of and demand for freedom, dignity, and justice in a civil state.

Due to outstanding public awareness and behavior, the regime’s attempts to drag the country into civil war have thus far failed, despite its oppression, violence, and repression.

Senior Hamas official Kamal Ghnaja was killed yesterday 27-6-2012 by regime Shabiha in his home in Qudsayya. Signs of torture was found on his body.

The regime is clearly counting on creating conflict and sectarian violence and igniting strife between Syrians and Palestinians by recruiting drug dealers, drug users, and other criminals into the shabiha. These shabiha enter Palestinian refugee camps under the guise of “safeguarding the camps,” yet commit murder and engage in kidnapping. The most recent evidence of this is the assassination of Mr. Kamal Ghanjeh (Abu Anas Nizar), a Hamas leader who was tortured to death by the regime’s shabiha. The shabiha then set his house on fire to destroy the evidence of their heinous crime.

The Local Coordination Committees in Syria (LCC) offers its deepest condolences to our Palestinian brothers and sisters, who have demonstrated the unity between our two peoples since the beginning of our Revolution. We condemn the regime’s criminal acts against Palestinians in Syria, and affirm that the regime’s cowardly attempts to destroy our brotherly relations and common objectives between the two peoples will not succeed. We reaffirm that only as free people can we be capable of regaining control of our rights and our occupied territories. The battle against tyranny is the same in Palestine and Syria [only Palestine is under occupation].

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Would You Be My Palestine?

We can buy Almaza and get to your uncle’s place while he’s having his Argileh with his friends outdoors.

We can buy some of the Armenian nuts you like.

We can sit next to each other on the Sofa.

We can get nervous.

We can allow silence to be so loud.

This is it.

We can turn Valentine into a sacred sin.

Would you break the law with me?

We can wait till we finish our first bottle.

We can forget about your tomorrow and mine.

You can let me start right here and now.

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