Al Kabbas Garage, ‘Shabiha’ Takes over Detainees’ Cars
Enab Baladi Issue # 88 – Sun, Oct. 27, 2013
Many may be not aware of the suffering of detainees after their release. When a person is arrested and his car is confiscated, he\she will go through a complicated process to get their car relinquished. For some people the “freedom” of their car is no less important than their own freedom, especially if they depend on the car to gain their income.
Many people are arrested and their cars are confiscated; “Shibiha” uses these cars for “thuggery” and car-chasing “armed gangs”. Several families reported seeing their detained relatives’ cars used by “Shabiha” in the streets, yet there is nothing they could do. Some decided to create Facebook pages demanding the “Freedom” of these cars to shed light on these violations.
Recently, most people became aware of these violations, yet not many of them are familiar with the whole story.
Al Kabbas Garage is an old parking located on Al Miliha Road (Damascus-Eastern Ghouta Road) where impound cars are kept. Cars were usually held there after repeated driving violations or by a court order. Recently, a new garage was built near the old one to be used for keeping seized cars of political detainees. Those detainees appear before the Anti-Terrorism Court where they are sent to one of the regime’s detention, and their cars are seized and kept in Al Kabbas Garage until their release.
Amira, a previous detainee who was recently released, provided the details of her long suffering to get back her confiscated car. She spent a month going daily to the Anti-Terrorism Court until the judge approved handing her the vehicle release documents.
Amira says she was relieved as she headed to the garage to receive her car; when she arrived there, a group of “Shabiha”, who were running the place, welcomed her with respect. She showed them the document and asked for her car; they started giving excuses for the fact that she may not find it in the garage saying “75 cars were stolen by terrorist groups; 15 of us were killed during clashes while trying to protect citizen’s cars”. “I truly hope you will find your car here… you may search for it among these cars”, added one of them. Amira made a painstaking search amid “heaps of metal”, as she describes the place. Amira finally found her car, yet it was in a horrible condition: defective tires, broken side mirrors and hood. All seems the very “acts of sabotage” perpetrated by “terrorist gangs”, Amira sarcastically says.
She had to pay 45000 ($225) Syrian Pounds as parking dues: 8000 S.P. transfer charges, and 200 S.P. for each day the car was parked in the garage.
A member of the group of “Shbiha” helped Amira with fixing the car’s tyres and then washed it for her while she was genuinely surprised of his kindness. Amira says the surprise gone too soon as he said “Here is your car Ma’am, congrates… tips please!”; As Amira gave him 1000 S.P. for his service, the rest of the group came asking for money as well. Amira had no choice, and had to pay them extra 8000 S.P. She just wanted to leave the place and so she did in a hurry once her papers were done.
Amira related what she witnessed as she was waiting to receive her car in Al Kabbas Car Park. A police officer from Bab Musala Police Station came asking for two cars, one for him and another for “a friend of his”. The officer in charge told him to choose the cars he wants from the garage. Meanwhile, an old man came to receive his confiscated car, but his search was in vain; his car was not found. “Shabiha” soothed the old man with the story of the “terrorist gang” which stole his car and killed 15 members of them, and finally they assured him that there is nothing they can do for him.
As Aimra was about to leave the garage in her “worn-out” car; another group of “Shabiha” stormed in requesting “That car, it seems in a better conditions than the others”, pointing at Aimra’s car. The responsible officer asked them to choose another one because “That’s her car,” pointing at Amira, “poor her! She has just paid us”.
Finally Amira managed to get her car and use it after paying 150,000 S.P. ($750) for repairing it partially. Amira says the car still needs plenty of repairs and it is not be as efficient as it was when it was confiscated.
While Officers in charge of the garage claim to “make sacrifices” in order to protect citizen’s properties and accuses “terrorists” of stealth and destruction, they publicly steal cars and recklessly give them to governmental officers and other “Shabiha” and “friends” without being censored or questioned.
This how the governmental departments in Syria became under Assad rule: Systematically organized gangs specialized in prolonging and increasing the suffering of the Syrian people in every way possible.