A Rare Visit Inside Hafez and Bashar al-Assad’s Prisons

The Syrian regime has visited the cruelest punishment on both ordinary people and intellectuals. Faraj Bayrakdar, a Syrian poet who spent more than13 years in jail for his beliefs, offers a rare picture of a father's pain in his essay in Al Jadid magazine, "A Father to the Point of Tears." Omar Amirlay, who passed away from a heart attack several  months ago, was one of the best Syrian documentary filmmakers, directing more than 20 documentaries, with hardly one or two of them allowed to be shown in Syria. The article about Amirlay, written by Mohammed Ali Atassi, which was also published in Al Jadid, reveals a great deal about how Baathist Syria treats its creative people. Meanwhile, the Assad apologists, at home and abroad, continue to blame Arab and Western media as well as outside powers for the popular unrest.  Also  published are two interviews with two of the most prominent Syrian prisoners of conscience, Faraj Bayrakdar and Riyadh al-Turk, and a third essay by Mohammed Ali Atassi, “The Other Prison.”  All three take us on a rare tour of Hafez and Bashar al-Assad’s prisons. Unfortunately, there are those, many of whom are genuine progressives, who still cannot see this cruel face of the Syrian regime and go so far as to make apologies for torture and repression.The pain inflicted upon decent courageous and progressive Syrians Michel Kilo, Fayez Saraand Riyadh Seif, among many others, and the tens of thousands of Syrians who have marched in almost every major Syrian city,more than 2300 paying with their lives,testify to the true, cruel nature of the Assad regime!

–Elie Chalala