Faten Rajab: An example of how Assad regime treats detained women

Orient Net - Ruthanne Sikora 2017-03-08 12:08:00

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As the sixth anniversary of the Syrian revolution fast approaches, a former detainee spoke of the status of 33 year old scientist, Faten Rajab, who is still being held under arbitrary detention by Assad terrorists along with tens of thousands of other detainees in the cellars of Assad’s prisons and detention centers.

Faten, who is a PhD student in physics and nuclear science, was a physics teacher and one of the peaceful and most prominent activists in the early days of the revolution, particularly in Douma in the Damascus countryside.

She made great efforts in both humanitarian and medical relief  — helping to set up field hospitals in defiance of the regime’s orders forbidding the treatment of wounded civilians — and was the sister of activist  “Ahmad Rajab Fawaz “, the first Syrian revolution activist to be martyred in Douma.

Faten was arrested by the air force intelligence branch during an ambush in Damascus on December 26, 2011, and was interrogated under torture for ten months before being transferred to the notorious 215 military prison where Amnesty International recently reported that secret executions have been carried out for years.

Since the revolution’s inception, Syrian women have been subjected to serious violations of their basic human rights by the Assad regime. 

Not bound by any codes of conduct or moral decency, Assad security and intelligence officers have delighted in practicing the harshest of mental and physical penalties such as arbitrary arrests, rape, murder and torture on female detainees.

They take advantage of the impunity afforded them by Assad to terrorize and intimidate female prisoners in an effort to elicit confessions to crimes they haven’t committed, manipulate and punish other family members and most often just to break their spirits in the most barbaric of ways with no regard for international laws or treaties on human rights.

‘Sahar’ is the pseudonym chosen by the former detainee who spoke to Zaman Al Wasl about Dr. Faten who she had shared a cell with in Branch 215.

Sahar provided Zaman Al Wasl with the details of her own arrest and how she was held in solitary confinement for one year before being found guilty of terrorism by a military field court and transferred to branch 215.

Sahar described the health status of Faten as being so bad that they were giving her painkillers to ease the pain — but their main interest was recording every word that Faten said, so much so that they recruited girls to spy on her inside the cell.

"During the so-called presidential elections a ballot box was brought to the cell but Faten refused to vote and was punished by Colonel Adnan Suleiman, head of the women’s division of the prison,” recalled the former detainee. 

“He used to hurt her deliberately. Faten was proud of the fact that she had refused to be interviewed by the regime’s Addounia TV channel saying her famous phrase, “My honor is my sect”.”

“Everyone in the prison knew the good Faten was doing for the prisoners inside her cell and how she sacrificed for them, but unfortunately she was betrayed by one of her closest friends.” 

Sahar continued her story by saying that Faten disappeared for a year after being taken from their cell and her fate was shrouded in mystery. All that was known for sure was that she was still inside the prison and that she was being forced to endure a lot.

Faten later told her companions that she had been subjected to physical and psychological pressure by Major General Jamil Hassan in an effort to obtain more confessions from her. At one point he showed her a picture of another prisoner soaked in blood with a military boot standing on her neck. To her dismay, the woman in the picture was her closest friend.

Sahar said "the story of Faten is the biggest proof of the savagery and criminality of the regime," adding that "this murderous regime considered that the terrorism in Syria is in one hand, and Faten is in the other because her ideas were enlightening and frightening to them. This explains why her interrogations were often handled by pillars of the regime such as Jamil Hassan, who yelled at her one day during an interrogation that he would make her suffer from dementia within two years if she did not cooperate with him.” 

Regarding the relationship between Faten and her fellow detainees, her fellow cellmate said that Faten did much to relieve their suffering, even though she was very much in need of someone to relieve her own. She served as mother, sister and companion to each detainee and was quick to forgive the girls who had been recruited to spy on her.

Sahar said that Faten was always down to earth and modest to the extreme. She was always the last to eat, making sure the other detainees had eaten first, was always defending them with her wonderful logic and demanding their rights before her own. 

Faten Rajab was preparing to present a dissertation on nuclear physics at a French University before the Assad regime arrested her and prevented her from completing her mission. Instead she was subjected to the worst kind of torture.  

Other former detainees also reported after their release that Faten was suffering from severe bouts of epilepsy and bleeding from her nose and ears after being subjected to the most brutal forms of torture — without being allowed any medical treatment whatsoever.

“This is the destiny of Syrian candles in the era of Assad beasts,” said activist Mohammad Saeed after reading her story.