Mazzeh Military Airport (1) – Ahmad Jamal Addin: Memories of a political prisoner

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Enab Baladi Issue # 80 – Sunday August 1, 2013

سجن المزة العسكريGiven his six-month experience in jail spent between Mazzeh Military Airport and the base of the Fourth Armoured Division located at Muaddamiya Mountains, Ahmad describes the prisoners’ daily life situations, in addition to the architecture of Almazza military airport. He reported that the majority of Daraya’s potential detainees are initially to be arrested at that airport which consists of two huge halls, each accommodates approximately 200 detainees! Detainees get booked in one of these halls before being transferred to the investigation branch within the airport. The majority of this airport’s detainees are youths of Daraya city, the rest are from other provinces and regions.

The airport includes two branches for investigation, an old one, and a recent one that has been established since the revolution started in 2011. Each branch consists of a huge number of cells, each of which is mainly made for 20 detainees, and accommodates at least 15 detainees.

The new investigation branch consists of a number of floors, a cellar, and a few cells dedicated for women. It is also composed of a place known as “addirasat”, and a massive hall -or (hall 400) as named by the detainees- meant to accommodate 1000 detainees and usually contains between 400 and 450. Ironically saying, this hall is considered to be one of the “fake” reforms of Bashar Alassad. Another hall is known as “almudarrajat”; it is a huge sport auditorium-shaped space, where there are at least 300 detainees.

One of four scenarios may happen to a detainee at the end of investigation sessions; the first one is that he gets booked again in one of the detention centres till he either gets released or interrogated again. These centres usually consist of a number of dormitories located in the central prison of Adra city. The second one is that the detainee could be confined at the prison of the central management which is located in Bab Tuma or Alqassa. This prison includes a huge number of single cells (around 48 ones), each of which is one meter by two meters, and designed to accommodate only one detainee. It also has a big number of dormitories; each is suitable for around 200 detainees. The third one is that the detainee gets booked in the «Aviation command base» stationed in Damascus behind Al Meridian Hotel, where there are a large number of single cells, dormitories, and more than 1,000 detainees. The hardest scenario is getting detained at the base of the Fourth Armoured Division. Its prison includes 5 massive dormitories designed to accommodate between 70 -100 people.

Recently, all forms of torture have been explicitly conducted at the previously-mentioned prisons and military bases. Some detainees were subjected to death under torture; others were exposed to death after suffocation due to the lack of Oxygen in a tiny place where a huge number of detainees live.

Ahmad also pointed out that lots of detainees have disappeared or been transferred to unknown destinations. Moreover, cases of disease infections such as scabies, allergies, hepatitis were also recorded.

     Ahmad’s friend says “I was detained in the halls, where only 3% of detainees were not suffering from hepatitis, which spread among detainees due to the lack of water and the very bad conditions of bathrooms”.

 “A detainee could use the bathroom only twice a day, while a security member always waits outside the bathroom so the detainee doesn’t stay more than few seconds in there”. Ahmad’s friend adds that “many cases of ischemic stroke and mental trauma have been recorded as a result of the horrible conditions inside the cells”.

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