Regime’s Checkpoints Discriminate on “Place of Birth”
Enab Baladi Issue # 89 – Sun, Nov. 03, 2013
“I am a Syrian Citizen, and I address concerned government departments requesting to change my ID information (place of birth and residence address) to the current displacement address in Damascus City”, that is what Amena posted on her Facebook page.
Amena is a displaced young girl from Daraya; published that post to express the pain she feels for the suffering of displaced people at checkpoints especially in Damascus; it is very likely for a displaced person from either Damascus Ghoutas to be harassed, beaten, or even arrested at any of the capital’s checkpoints. Such violations are increasing day after day following the escalation of the field situation on the ground in anti-regime areas in Damascus suburbs.
Osama, a lawyer from Daraya, was stopped at the main checkpoint in the city in May last year and was severely beaten by regime forces there. “I took beating for a solid hour; I was unable to speak or to defend myself”, says Osama who had previously been arrested by Air Force Intelligence and spent almost ten months in Mazzeh Military Airport underground detentions. Osama says that the suffering of the savage beating he received that day equals the suffering of the whole time he spent in detention.
Whereas Lauy, a twenty-seven-year-old man from Daraya, found himself in a similar position; Lauy managed to ward it off by giving the officer there 1000 Syrian Pounds in return of letting him go.
This phenomenon increased after the talks about an American strike on Syria. Also, it is increasing as a reaction to the opposition seizing control over parts of the suburbs, or repelling regime’s attempts to control other areas like Daraya and Muaddamiya.
Dania, an 18-year-old student, says that one of her cousins was held at checkpoint on the road leading from Damascus to Ghouta only because his ID indicated that he is from Al Mliha, Damascus suburbs. Luckily, begging the officers at the checkpoint to let him go since he is a previous detainee was effective, and saved him the suffering of a second arrest.
Seventeen-year-old Majd had to escape from the temporary custody leaving his belongings with regime forces at the checkpoint. He was accompanied by a friend from Damascus City; Majd was held by regime forces while his friend was allowed to pass the checkpoint for no reason but the different “Place of birth” on their ID.
These mass arrests included both males and females; women may be harassed, beaten or even arrested as well. Twenty-five-year-old Hiba was held at a checkpoint in Damascus city as she was passing in a public bus. When Hiba was asked to get out of the bus, she asked the officer about the reason for her arrest; the officer simply answered “Your crime is that you are from Daraya”.
Most people of Damascus suburbs try to escape the unrelenting pressure of passing through regime’s checkpoints by walking instead of using private cars or public transportation within Damascus City. Furthermore, people from suburbs who are living outside Damascus prefer to stay within the areas they currently live in, to avoid being arrested or beaten at regime checkpoints.