The following was published by Families For Freedom, a women-led Syrian movement demanding the release of all Syrian women and men detained in the country, the majority of whom are detained by the Assad regime. You can read the original on their page, and please consider supporting their activities.
This is the the story of Hind Majaly, a Syrian activist, a mother and a teacher. She is now a refugee and focuses her energy on supporting former detainees.
My name is Hind. I’m from the city of Daraa, where the first demonstration for freedom and democracy broke. We took to the streets in March 2011 to demand the release of the children detained by the regime for graffitying ‘freedom’ on the walls of a school.
We also demanded the release of everyone being held in detention and the abolition of the ‘emergency law’ that had been in force since 1963.
The regime met our peaceful demonstrations with bullets. Our voices rose high and the walls of fear were broken forever. We were determined not to be dragged to violence, to remain peaceful.
On the 24th of March 2011 was my first arrest.
After the early clashes the regime entered Daraa with tanks and armed forces to further suppress the uprising. They broke into my house and destroyed the furniture and my personal belongings. I was dragged from my house by heavily armed men. After what felt like a lifetime, I realised I was being taken to the notorious ‘Palestine’ intelligence branch in Damascus. I was one of the first women to organise peaceful demonstrations in Daraa and the one of the first woman from Daraa to be detained.
When they locked the doors behind me, reality hit me: I am a detainee now.
I removed the blindfold and looked around me. I was in a tiny cell, just one square meter wide. Half of it taken up by a toilet hole in the ground, there was a sink with a broken faucet, water was dripping from it day and night.
There was barely room to sit and no way I could lie down. I got few moments of sleep before the door opened. I was blindfolded again, then I was taken to the interrogation room. This became my daily routine: every day I would be interrogated, often more than once a day.
The main charges against me were: organising demonstrations against the regime, and aiding the people of Daraa.
The security officer interrogating me kept saying:
“You are such an ungrateful woman! What do you want? You have been given everything, and yet you defy his excellency!”
By his excellency he was referring to Bashar Al Assad. The dictator whose family had ruled for the last forty years. The dictator who have stolen our freedom.
My first detention lasted 14 days, I was lucky.
After I was released my mind kept going back to that cell. To the silence of it, only broken by the screams of young men who were being tortured in that detention center.
I felt so helpless because I could not help them.
I promised myself to keep fighting for them.
I promised myself to keep fighting until all of Syria is free.
I am no longer in Syria but I spend all my days supporting former detainees.”