Syria: ‘This case is about saving humanity’

August 20, 2017

Mazen Darwish cowered in the corner of a blood-stained cell in the Syrian capital Damascus.

“Tomorrow, I’ll be free,” he told himself.

Deep down, he knew this was not true, but holding onto the faint glimmer of hope kept him alive. He had not showered in months and felt weak from food deprivation. Every day, he was beaten with clubs, shocked with electric prods and hung by his arms from the wall, Darwish recalled.

“The guards used torture for torture’s sake – not to get information, but to humiliate and destroy us,” he told Al Jazeera.

The prominent human rights activist spent three and a half years in government custody. In August 2015, he was released.

“Regime members have acted with impunity for years now,” said Darwish, 43. “Any political solution to the Syrian conflict without accountability and justice won’t bring sustainable peace.”

Darwish, a lawyer and pro-democracy activist, openly criticised the Syrian regime’s crackdown on anti-government protests in March 2011. In February 2012, security forces stormed the Damascus office of his organisation, the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression. Darwish, his wife and other members of the centre were arrested.

In the ensuing years, he was transferred from one detention centre to the next, including a military branch, an air force security camp and a state security branch. Within the first year, Darwish said, he lost 90 pounds and a skin infection spread across his body. “I looked like a skeleton,” he said. (FRANCAIS)


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