one time we had to move three bodies while on another day we were obliged to remove 13 bodies – they were all prisoners who died under torture during interrogation or illness due to poor health conditions."
September 27, 2018
The characters painted by Najah Albukaii in black ink suffer from pain and despair under torture. The Syrian artist, who lives in exile, says he himself has undergone and/or witnessed this tortured when he was arrested twice in the prisons of the Bashar al-Assad regime.
One of the drawings depicts a group of semi-naked men being beaten while another man embodies a man on his back, raising his legs so that they reach his head that was tied between two heavy wooden boards.
“We were between 190 and 220 people in this room, which was 16 meters long and three meters wide. And there did the interrogation sessions take lace, where the executioners were using different methods,” said Albukaii, now living in France.
“The worst, however, was the removal of the bodies – one time we had to move three bodies while on another day we were obliged to remove 13 bodies – they were all prisoners who died under torture during interrogation or illness due to poor health conditions.”
Since the beginning of the protests in Syria in 2011 and the arrest of opponents of the regime, the latter rejects the charges against it of using systematic torture and executions in detention, but after years of silence the regime began to acknowledge the death of hundreds of detainees by informing the circles of souls.
“I feel it is my duty to continue the revolution,” he said at his home in a suburb of Paris.
“If I stop drawing on this subject, it means that I surrendered and I said to Assad: Yes, you have won the war against us.”
Albukaii said he was arrested in 2011 for the first time in 11 months in Security Branch 227 near the capital Damascus. In 2014, he was arrested again on the border with Lebanon as he tried to leave Syria after hiding for two years in his wife’s family home.
Two and a half years ago, he returned to France where he had studied arts in the early 1990s and lives there with his wife Abir and his 16-year-old daughter.
Painting his healing. Because the scenes of prison and torture inhabit him. But for years now, Albukaii cannot draw any other subject for years. “Every time I try to change the subject of my drawings, I go back to the same thing,” he says.