I hear a lot about men being tortured. They tell me in coffee shops, in passing, in quiet moments. They tell me offhand, as an aside, when the subject appears by happenstance — by the way, I was in mukhabarat custody, too. Way more than half the men my age whom I have met from Syria have spent time ‘detained’ in the dungeons. Whether it is in strict confidence or in the open air of a crowded coffee shop, there is always one commonality — no space.
Yesterday in Istanbul: “I would stand an hour, then sleep an hour, we sleep always on our side.” Two friends used a term for this I will have to ask them about later — it was an informal setting and I was not transcribing or recording.
The tangent was prompted by me showing this picture, taken from the promotional material of a documentary, titled “Tadmor”:
I’ll paste the following from an unpublished article of mine (so, one of my articles),
[He] spent the worst sixty-seven days with the Air Force’s security service, “It is the most terrible branch,” in a twenty square-meter cell with, on average, eighty other detainees. Sometimes there were ninety. This reappears without exception in the testimonies of those who have survived the Assad government’s torture and detention labyrinth — incompressible spaces.
The branches of the security state infamously don’t coordinate or communicate with one another. Yesterday I heard a story of one man being taken by one branch, then dying in prison. The jailers there sent word to his father to pick up the body. The father did and buried it. Then a few months later another branch came looking for the same boy. When the father said he had buried him, they didn’t take his word for it and instead took the father another son (believing it was the dead son) to prison. After months suffering in the abominable conditions, both were released.