“Prelude: book “Sednaya Prison During The Syrian Revolution

Number of those who die from hunger, exceeded the number of victims of torture. Quarrels between prisoners increased, always about trivial shares of food.

July 28, 2020

“Prelude:  book “Sednaya Prison During The Syrian Revolution

Source: The Association of Detainees and The Missing in Sednaya Prison


This book contains testimonies of former prisoners imprisoned in the prison of Sednayah during the Syrian revolution in addition to the story of a prisoner’s sister about a visit his family had made to see him, and a testimony of the wife of a forcibly disappeared husband about whom she received confused news that her husband was detained in the prison of Sednayah, which she likened it to a black box.

The first testimony was given by a former prisoner, an Islamist who was referred to Sednayah in May 2011, i.e. two months after the outbreak of the Syrian revolution, when the Syrian authorities were, at that time, busy closing the file of former political prisoners, most of them Islamists, and started referring military personnel charged of defection to the prison.

Since the early period of the revolution, harsh treatment of detainees charged of supporting the revolution started to flow on the surface. They were subject to beating by wooden or iron sticks on all parts of their bodies, including their heads; “It wasn’t beating, rather, it was execution by beating” as one of the prisoners said. He witnessed the killing of several prisoners after every torture “party” committed by the jailers who had full freedom to punish and humiliate officers of all ranks, accusing them of betraying the country which “they had been nourished from its fortunes.”

In a few months, the prison was emptied from its former prisoners with whom the prison directorate avoided encountering after the long sit in they had made in 2008, and was crowded again by prisoners of the revolution, military and civilians, during the years which followed the outbreak of the revolution in March 2011.

Most of the military prisoners were arrested in their units due to security reports accusing them of planning defections after they were hastily mobilized by the authorities to face the protesters. After being investigated in the various branches of the military security in Syrian cities, some times without investigation, they were referred to the central branches of security services in Damascus, the capital: Branch of Officers’ Affairs No. 293, branch of Military Personnel No. 291, Palestine branch No. 235, Investigation branch No. 248, and many others.

Detainees spend unlimited periods of time in these branches during which they were tortured by several means, mainly, the wheel, and the suspension (suspending the detainee from the handcuffs on his wrists, with his legs dangling hardly can touch the floor, for hours, for a full day and even for longer periods. Usually, the investigation concludes when the detainee, being exhausted from torture, admits all the charges against him, and then he will be referred to the prison of Sednayah, (which at 2011 hadn’t been ill famed with the brutal practices that floated after the revolution), believing that there, he will be relieved of the inhuman treatment he had been subjected to in the security branches.

 To transport the detainees to the prison of Sednayah, they are lined to a long iron chain, with one hand cuff on the wrist of the detainee and the second one hung to the chain linked with all the prisoners. They climb up to the vehicle specialized for this purpose. It is a truck with a totally closed metal container, dubbed the “Carcass Vehicle” because it is similar to the trucks used to transport carcasses of slaughtered animals from slaughter houses. Deprived from all their human rights, nobody tells them their destination. From the distance the vehicle crosses, some of them estimate that they are going to Sednayah. Then, those who had heard about the brutal treatment in the prison start telling stories they know raising fears and agonies among the others who start invoking God to help them.

Arriving in the prison, at the gate of the “Red Building” dubbed (Mercedes), known for the harsh treatment the prisoners receive in it, harsher than that of the “White Building,” the container’s door opens, military police in charge of this first military prison in the country, receive prisoners by quickly laying them on the ground cursing them naughtily, as if they were bags of onion thrown on the ground. The bruises the prisoners have due to throwing them on the ground at the gate, are nothing compared with the “reception party” prepared for them in the long corridor of the building. This party is a primary session of hard torture applied on all the detainees transferred from the security branches or detention centers of the integrated Syrian security services.

The more important the security branch, the harshest is the torture detainees receive in it. But, in Sednayah, the story is different. One of our witnesses said fifteen prisoners were killed, from the one hundred who were cuffed to the chain in which he was tied to. The reception party in Sednayah takes a few hours. Detainees are ordered to take off all their clothes to be totally naked, and to prostrate to receive sessions of beating by jailers who move from one prisoner to another, all of them laying on the ground bleeding.

 During this session of torture, prisoners handle their personal items, documents and money to the “deposits;” their personal information and documents are registered in files. They receive information about the prison routine. In the detention centers of the security branches jailers use blinds to cover eyes of the detainees so that they don’t recognize the investigators. In Sednayah, eyes blinding is self-imposed. The prisoner must cover his eyes by lifting his T-shirt to cover his head, and put his palms, not his fingers, on his eyes so that he can’t recognize any of the jailers. If anyone opens his eyes to look around, he will be punished by gouging them out.

During recording the personal details, prisoners are submitted to all kinds of humiliation. One of our witnesses said that the jailer instead of asking him the name of his mother, he asked him the name of “the whore” who begot him. He also said that detained doctors, lawyers, officers and journalists are specially received by all kinds of torture out of the hostility the jailers have against them. Jailers are complicated, illiterate, sectarian, and regionalists. They are young; 18-20 years old and have deep hatred against graduates, social figures, well to do or older men. Prisoners who have well-built bodies are targeted more than the others, jailers always try to humiliate them by (breaking their -heads- will).

After the reception “ceremony”, prisoners are given the lesson of “the train” to apply it whenever they are ordered to move in groups. The lesson says prisoners should stand in line, everyone should hold the waist of the prisoner in front of him, bend down putting his forehead on his rear so that it is impossible for him to see anybody around.

After drawing out bodies of those who die during the reception ceremony, jailers shout; “Stand, Stand, Train, Train, Train.” They direct the first prisoner to lead his colleagues down along stairs to the cells where new comers are put for a period from two weeks to six months, depends on the mood of the prison’s chief.

 Cells areas are diversified, originally, they were solitary cells, but they are always incredibly crammed. One of our witnesses said that he was squeezed with 28 prisoners in a cell not more than 4 * 3 m including the toilet pot. Another one said they were nine in a cell 2 * 2 m.

The prisoners will not enter the cells without another session of torture and receiving a list of instructions: “Here, everything is done by orders, order for eating, order for drinking, order for sleeping, and order for waking up. Any violation will be punished mercilessly. Here, no talk, no whisper. whenever you hear a sound in the corridor, you kneel down inside the cell. When the cell door opens everyone should kneel down, not stand, in the toilet. From now on, you are sons of bitches. Whenever you are asked you reply, we are sons of bitches.” If the answers in any cell are not loud and sonorous, prisoners will be severely punished for being slacken.

The following day, or may be after two to three days, prisoners may receive their first meal. All those whom we had their testimonies said that deficiency of food was the hardest punishment in the prison, it is even worse than beating which may easily cause death. Many times, the average share of a prisoner was not more than half of an olive, two spoons full of rice or bulgur, and half a loaf of bread for the twenty-four hours of the day.

The jailer has the utmost freedom to take out any prisoner from the cell and to torture him for no reason, or just to waste time. He may order prisoners to extend their hands, heads, or even legs from the little window down the cell door to beat them or even press them with his boots. He may punish the whole cell by spelling water on the ground of the cell. In Sednayah the weather is generally cold, therefore this is an incredible punishment which may take several days, during which the prisoners are totally naked. This punishment will not end unless one of the prisoners die.

After spending the defined period in the cells, which is up to the jailers’ mood to estimate or to unexplained estimations of the prison administration, detainees are moved to the higher levels of the building to be put in dormitories, where life is supposed to be less bad than in the cells, although this is not a rule.

Dormitories of the “Red Building” are unified in area, seven meters long and five meters wide, with a bath in the corner.  The average number of prisoners in each dormitory, during the Syrian revolution, was thirty-five prisoners. There isn’t any kind of furniture in the dormitory except 2-3 blankets for each prisoner. Prisoners moved from the cells to the dormitories receive a list of new instructions: “You sit here; food will be brought to you. No sounds, No whispers.” Jailers teach them the position they all have to take whenever a jailer enters or opens the little window of the door: kneel down in consecutive rows according to their numbers, faces to the wall opposite the door and hands behind or covering the eyes. A prefect to the dormitory is selected randomly from among the prisoners or upon his personal wish. He will be the main link between the prisoners and the jailers. “A dormitory prefect is destined to die” one of the witnesses told us. He is subject to severe beating for any reason or even without a reason. Many times, a jailer enters the ward and shouts in the corridor: “Pimps of dormitories” or “Pigs of dormitories” … all of you in shorts…He beats them and then leaves.

Speed and counts were of utmost importance to the jailers, always preludes to harmful beating. When they bring food, jailers count from 1 to 3, during this time the prefect should take out the empty bowels of the previous meal and enter the new ones. When the jailer finishes counting, he closes the door which is usually not fully open.  If the prefect fails to fulfill his duties during this short time, the heavy door will close on him, breaking any of his limbs or sometimes, killing him immediately. For this reason, two types of men can accept this position; either a “Fidai,” a commando, or a Shabiha believing that this position is a privilege and a rare opportunity to practice bullying on his mates as is the case in the detention centers of the security branches.

For the first model, a commando, we have First lieutenant, Rance al-Mesleh. He volunteered to be prefect of his dormitory instead of a sick prisoner the jailer had randomly selected. He was tortured and beaten refusing to give the jailers names of the prisoners who violate the instructions.

For the second model, a Shabiha, we mention Shadi Said, a popular singer who had revealed his loyalty to the regime by singing a song, greeting Bashar al-Assad. When he was moved to the dormitories, he told the prisoners that he was arrested because he tried to convince a security warrant officer to join the Free Syrian Army by promising him a large amount of money.

Jailers are always free to beat prisoners at any time. “Sometimes they beat us four times in the day,” one of the witnesses said. Other witnesses spoke of a torture session every two or three days using all the tools available to the jailers: – “belt of the tank motor,” a hard rubber belt used on the motors of tanks. It removes the skin where it strikes, -brass quadruple cables, made of four brass wires twisted together, – green PVC water pipes named Lakhdar Brahimi, mocking the Algerian UN envoy to Syria who has the same name, (Lakhdar in Arabic means green), – the Harawaneh which is a compressed silicon rod originally used for soldering plastic parts. It doesn’t wound or break bones, but it either kills the victim in time or cause him unusual pains, – the iron pipe which the prisoners dubbed Umm Kamel, it kills after two or three strikes, the electric stick, in addition to kicking with the military boots.

Add to these tools the arbitrary beating and the random punishments. In the prison of Sednayah, prisoners were subject to a punishment called, the “Prison’s Wheel” which is a night session of torture. It starts from the first dormitory in the first floor, going up to the last dormitory in the third floor.  One of the prisoners said the wheel should leave behind it at least one victim dead in every dormitory. In spite of this, prisoners always line in rows kneeling down, waiting impatiently the arrival of the torturing team to end the horror they feel from the sounds of tortured prisoners, likened by one prisoner to the sounds of ghosts in the center of an abandoned city.

Methodology of torture in the prison of Sednayah is different from that of the security branches. There, torture is mostly practiced to have information or, sometimes, to humiliate the detainees. In Sednayah torture is practiced just for the sake of torture. “Sednayah prison is devoted to punish the Syrian revolution” said one witness. Another witness commented: “In the security branches torture is mostly used to have information or confessions. If it is a punishment, it continues until the detainee cries of pain because his silence is considered a challenge to his torturers. In Sednayah, it is the opposite, you have to receive beating in silence, if you cry, beating will increase.”

Sometimes a prisoner is referred to the Field Court of the military police in Qaboun. In a brief court session of no more than two to three minutes, the judge asks the defendant about his charge, then dismisses him.  The court decision is always kept secret to the prisoner who, from this mission, as it is called by the prisoners, only gets beating in his way from and to the prison, in addition to spending a horrible night in the prison of the military police where detainees are crammed over each other to communicating lice and scabies, if they were not previously infected.

Theoretically, the prisoner has the right to be visited by his family after being brought to the court. Before that, he is considered one of those forcibly disappeared persons because no one knows his whereabouts. Practically, some families could arrange a special visit by bribing or by the mediation of some influential. Having a permit for a normal visit, which is allowed every three to four months, is not possible without different complications, long procedures, and many times, bribing.

Visits are allowed in two days every week. Many prisoners described the process of being visited: In the morning, jailers announce the names of the prisoners to be visited, the prisoner gets ready to get out of the dormitory, jailers wait him out to start beating and cursing him until he bleeds: “Move you son of a …, you want to take the bless from the c…t of your mother? Your wife is here to visit you? Probably yesterday she was sleeping with your brother.”

They drag him into a room 15 m long and 10 m wide where all the prisoners to be visited from all the wards are gathered. In the room, there is always a barber holding a machine to remove the hair of prisoners and to beat them. When one’s turn comes, he is led by at least one jailer to the meeting room. He stands in front of a mesh and his visitors, escorted by another jailer stand in front of another mesh. Between the two meshes a sergeant stands to listen to the conversation. Before the visit, prisoners are warned to talk briefly: “How are you? How is your health? I am fine. Everything is alright. And so on.” It is forbidden to mention names; they might carry messages. For example, it is forbidden to say; “How is my brother Mohammad?” All questions should be of general nature: How are my brothers? How are my aunts? or How are my uncles?

Jailers treat prisoners in front of their visitors with cautious kindness. They warn them in advance of any violation: “Beware… you will come back to me…. or… Later you will be punished.” They do so in the best cases, but usually they tell him: “Look, your mother is out…I’ll do so and so with her in front of the mesh.”  The punishment is already decided if the prisoner violates the instructions or if any of his visitors utters a word nervously. If things go smoothly during the three minutes of the visit, the jailer leads the prisoner out while his visitors are seeing him off with their eyes, and whispers in his ears: “Hold up…Be proud of yourself.” Once they cross the separating distance, the jailer kicks him off pushing him a few meters forward, after which he should prostate waiting the bag of clothes his family had brought him to be thrown on his head. Then the jailer orders him to stand, that is to keep kneeling down because he returned to the prison routine. Generally, the family brings a lot of clothes to the prisoner, which mostly, very little of them is delivered to the prisoner, especially his used ones. Jailers steal the new clothes.

Many times, family members fail to recognize their son until his name is announced by the jailers because of the fearful loss of his weight and sickness, result of torture. The prisoner also may not know his little children because they had already grown up.

In spite of the joy of meeting their kin, prisoners of Sednayah congratulate themselves if their names were not announced for a visit. Some of them ask those who are to be freed to contact their relatives and advise them not to repeat the visit to avoid the humiliation and torture which may lead to death, as was the case of the judge Nayef Faisal al-Rifai who was killed after his wife’s visit.

 al-Rifai was a military judge, a captain. He was arrested in March 2012 after he had been called to one of the security branches accused of cooperating with the revolutionaries and of leaking execution decisions issued by judge Mohammad Kanjo Hasan, chief justice of the military field court. In the prison, al-Rifai was subjected to double torture, to beating with the most fatal tools. Jailers ordered him to take off his clothes all the time, poured cold water on him, and humiliated him daily. When he returned to the dormitory from his last visit, a soldier, named Eissa Mohammad, prisoners say he killed hundreds of them, struck him with an iron pipe on his stomach causing him internal hemorrhaging. He died in April 2014. When his family started preparing a condolences ceremony, security men prevented them.

 After the visit, the prisoner returns to the dormitory trying to interpret every word he had heard from his relatives in a way that may give hope of being set free and the regime will fall after a short time. The prisoners were completely isolated from the outer world, therefore, they ruminate what they hear in the visit, and during the five hours of mingling with prisoners from other dormitories to predict any news of the world or about the prison itself.

There were rare opportunities to smuggle little letters in the clothes, if they were not discovered or the clothes were not stolen by the jailers. Generally, people outside the prison do not have information or evidences to what they say to the prisoners.

In some cases, prisoners deduced certain information about events outside the prison from the reactions of the jailers inside. Some- times they were nervous and invent excuses to punish the prisoners. If their reactions were accompanied by cutting electricity and water off, prisoners will believe that the battles had approached the prison, and it will soon fall to the revolutionaries, and prisoners, who were in such times receiving double sessions of torture, will be shortly liberated and set free.

One witness said that treatment had improved before Geneva 2 conference in January 2014. Beating nearly ceased, central heating was operated, director of the prison toured the dormitories and the prison’s doctor followed him to estimate the degree of scabies infections. Jailers distributed medicines on prisoners. This relax continued until news spread that the conference had failed, and things developed to the worse.

In May 2013, a faction of the Free Syrian Army succeeded in assassinating the prison director, brigadier general Talat Mahfouz. The assassination was reflected negatively on the prisoners. Witnesses said that the real dilemma started in that year and the years that followed. Torture increased, punishments doubled, blood spots covered the walls, prisoners’ liquidation started, and diseases spread. Prisoners died due to the deterioration of their immunity, water and electricity, were cut for long periods, sometimes for seven or eight consecutive days. Food was rare, jailers poured it on the prisoners’ heads or on the floor and tread on it. Sometimes they put it in the toilet. It became normal for the jailer to open the dormitory door every morning and ask: “Do you have a (Fteeseh) or no?” and prefects used to say: “Yes we have one … two.”

“Fteeseh” in Arabic means a dead animal.

As a punishment, jailers used to deprive prisoners from food or sometimes to release themselves from the duty of distributing it. Many times they gave the share of a complete ward of nine dormitories to one dormitory, depriving the other dormitories. Generally, the share specified for the whole ward is hardly sufficient to one dormitory. The individual’s share of food for the whole day doesn’t satisfy a little child.

Depriving prisoners from food was an easy routine as a punishment. When they deprive a dormitory from food, they bring food in bowels, put them at the door of the dormitory, leaving the prisoners to guess if they will enter them or they will give them to other dormitories. Prisoners hear jailers putting food at the door, if not entered to them in a short time, they understand that their share will be given to another dormitory.

A witness said: “After spending sometime in the prison, we forgot the outer world, we forgot our families, we forgot why we were there, we even got used to beating. The only obsession we have was when food will come?”

Prisoners became very thin, deep cheeks, protruding chest ribs, the fattest of them is not more than 50 kg. Many of them had changed into wolves, each one tries to snatch his colleague’s share of food, just to survive. Many times, four or five days passed without any thing to eat, and when food is brought each one can’t have more than a half or a quarter loaf of bread. Prisoners used to eat orange leaves, egg shells, olive seeds and consequently, they didn’t need to empty their bowls in the toilet. Stomachs are always empty.

Number of those who die from hunger, exceeded the number of victims of torture. Quarrels between prisoners increased, always about trivial shares of food. A witness from the dormitory of seclusion, specified for tuberculosis patients, remembers that two prisoners quarreled over which egg they will have, the red one or the white, their voices were loud, jailers heard them shouting and decided to punish all the dormitory by depriving them from food for five days, during which some of them died including the one of the egg quarrel.

Jailers always determined the way how liquids, like tea or soup, should be served with meals. This way depends on the temperature of the liquid, if it is cold, they would spill it on the floor, so prisoners scoop it with their hands and drink it with all the hair and dirt collected in it. Many times, they couldn’t wait, they suck it direct with their mouths. If the liquid is hot, they spill it on the heads of the prisoners who are always squatting. Tea leaves stick to the heads or on the shoulders of the ones in front, and those behind fight to eat them.

Food became a dream; only lucky prisoners can see in the night and can court it in the day time. Groups of three to four prisoners sit close to each other and whisper the ways of cooking rice, Okra (lady’s fingers), and Shakriyeh, (Yoghourt and meat), sometimes on how to prepare pastries and how to taste them. In the night, some of them swear they felt the flavors of food in their mouths. Prisoners from the coastal regions tell those from inner cities about fishing and how to prepare sea foods. They quarreled over the best foods in Syrian regions, voices rise up and debates heat rendering these moments into utmost pleasure because they speak about food.

In this context, a new trade was born in the dormitories. It was based on an unusual currency: bread. For example, one can swap his share of jam, which is no more than a spoon full distributed in rare happy days, for a loaf of bread. Another, who exercises whenever possible, may buy shares of the others of egg so that he can, one day, eat one full egg. Another may buy a sweater to warm his body, from a colleague who had been visited by his family, against three to four loaves of bread paid in installments, quarter of a loaf of bread daily.

This trade developed in some dormitories to an extent of appointing a former merchant to define the prices of commodities in line with the principle of order and demand. Sometimes the prefect might intervene to solve disputes on questions like unifying prices inside the dormitory, controlling rivalry, and banning dealing with persons who fail to manage their resources wisely, and consequently, they had a “trade deficit.” Trade developed to the level of complex vending of a certain kind of newly devised foods like mixing egg, bread shreds with yoghourt.

Water supply may cease due to a break in the water pipes in freezing days or as a punishment. When water is rare, one glass could be sold for two loaves of bread.

Frivolity of the jailers’ orders may reach the extremes because they are completely free handed. One witness told us that hair cutting was implemented by throwing several machines linked to one wire to be used by the prisoners. One day the order was:” All…haircut.” The machines didn’t come. Prefects of dormitories informed the jailers. The reply was: “Do it your own ways.” Some prisoners didn’t take the reply seriously because it is illogical. The day after, when the jailers realized that their orders were not obeyed, they brought all the prefects of dormitories and started beating them violently until two or three of them died. Again, they repeated the order: “Tomorrow…all should have their hair cut.” The threat was serious, so prisoners started snatching threads from blankets and from the dish washing chaffs to present them as hair. Even in this, they were cautious not to tear blankets, because a blanket in Sednayah, is much more important than a prisoner.

It is difficult to wash with cold water in the dormitory, therefore, sometimes, prisoners were taken to a bath at the end of the ward. Seven or eight prisoners enter a bath room together to wash under either boiling or warm water. To and from the bath, beating continues none stop and prisoners, already fainting, fall on the ground.

One witness who spent two years in Sednayah said that he went twice to the bath, one of them was a long event; he remained 3-4 minutes under the shower. Another witness said that the time allowed in the bath of the dormitory is about ten seconds counted by the jailer: “one, …two …three, …four…. quick you pimp, five…six…, seven, Quick you pimp…eight …nine…ten.” When pronouncing ten all should be out of the bath lining in the “train.”

Lack of cleanliness, rarity of food and continuous beating played a critical role in communicating diseases like scabies, tuberculosis and others which killed hundreds of prisoners.

Performance of the prison doctors differs from one to another. Witnesses agreed that they have never seen a doctor examining or treating a patient. Sometimes doctors beat the patients as they did to Rance al-Mesleh. Beating may develop to execution.  Prisoners said one of the doctors was a killer, therefore they gave him the title of butcher. The good doctor is the one who can only watch movements of prisoners and give the weakest of them a number to be referred to Tishreen military hospital.

In the hospital, patients will realize that they will not be allowed to enter the hospital, rather, they will be put in a special cell out of it where it is possible for a soldier to give the patients general medicines without any examination, and return them back.  If they were permitted to enter the hospital to have some tests, they might be beaten on the way from and to the closed vehicle (the fridge).

One witness said: “We were thirty prisoners referred to the hospital. When we arrived four of us had already died. The following day they took me to help them put the bodies of those who died in bags. They were more than 15, killed by the doctors and the Shabiha.”

Another witness told us a horrible story about the hospital’s cell which is about 200 m far from the gate of the hospital. The road to the cell was covered with big white pebbles. Because the patients are already week and bare footed, some of them were unable to walk, and fall down, soldiers sometimes support them to reach the cell. To avoid doing this, the responsible warrant officer appoints a prefect to the cell, then orders the patients to do some exercises, if any of them fails to do, he orders the prefect to pull him aside and liquidate him using a cloth and a stick especially prepared for this purpose. In this way, a cell prefect may kill four or five of his colleagues to enjoy the relatively rich meals offered to them in the hospital.

Nothing in Sednayah is easier than killing or field execution. Twice a week, fifty to three hundred prisoners are executed or killed by beating on sensitive parts of the body, like the spine, the head or the stomach, in addition to the deaths resulting from hunger, sickness or torture.

It is normal a jailer comes in the morning to have the following dialogue with the prefect:

What is this you pimp? referring to a body laid on the ground.

“He died.” The prefect replies.

“He died or Fetess?” the jailer asks again. “Didn’t you kill him, you asshole?”

No sir he died by himself.

What is the name of this son of a bitch?”

So and so sir.

Alright, wrap him with a blanket and throw him out. the jailer orders.

Two prisoners should draw the corps of the dead out in only five seconds counted by the jailer. If they fail to do that, they will be beaten brutally.

To face all these atrocities, the prisoners have nothing to do but to resort to God, whether they are religious or secular. Although prayers are totally forbidden under harsh punishments, most of the witnesses whom we had interviewed used to pray in different discrete ways, silently or seated. If they had a rare opportunity to pray normally, i.e. to kneel down or prostrate they would do that with utmost caution. The prison witnessed many sessions of reading the Holy Quran, especially “the Surahs” believed to be protective or evil repelling. More than one witness told us personal stories of such experiences.

This is all what a prisoner can do in the prison, in addition to dreams interpretation and day dreaming. Once, a cell held a course about Syria’s modern history. It passed peacefully. A neighboring cell saved parts of their food to make chess pieces. When the jailers discovered that they punished them by drenching their cell with water, one of them died of cold.

Until now nobody knows who committed all these horrible atrocities. Looking at jailers is extremely dangerous in the prison of Sednayah. If any prisoner recognizes a jailer, he will soon be killed.  If a prisoner talks to a jailer and he just replies without beating him, then the prisoner is fortunate and the Jailer is a good-hearted man. Although some of the jailers are less hostile than the others, it is difficult to recognize them. Many stories started with good gestures and ended with catastrophic surprises. The main dialect adopted in the prison is the Alawite. Although most of the jailers are Alawite, those who are not use it as a sign of bullying and authority.

 There is not enough information about the structure and staff of the prison. The directors whom the association succeeded to identify are:

Brigadier general Talat Mahfouz. He is from Draykish- Governorate of Tartus‎. He chaired the prison since before the revolution until he was assassinated in May 07, 2013. Before that he chaired Palmyra prison.

Colonel Ibrahim Hasan: from May 08, 2013 to the end of 2013.

Brigadier general Adeeb Smander: for two months from early 2014. He was commander of the military police in Latakia.

Colonel Mahmoud Maatouq: From February or March 2014 Until he died in December 12, 2018. He is from Latakia.

Colonel Hussein Mohammad: from Latakia.

Most of the witnesses whom we had interviewed gave their real names, unless they felt it is necessary to conceal them for a reason or another like: (Abu al-Fateh, Abu Omar, Mohammad, Abu Anas al-Hamwi and Umm Ali).