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12th March 2012

Father of Manchester Student released from Syrian custody

A Syrian student at Manchester tells of the extreme torture his father suffered in a Syrian jail

The father of a Syrian student studying in Manchester has been released from a Syrian special jail after six months in detention.

The Mancunion reported in issue 12 about Manchester Student Haytham Al-Hamwi’s experience with the Syrian regime. At that time Haytham’s father, brother and father-in-law had all been arrested by Syrian police.

Haytham, who has experienced torture in Syrian “special jails”, was overjoyed when he heard news of his father’s release.

“At 5 o’clock in the morning I received a call from my brother in Saudi Arabia. He told me that my father was released an hour ago and I immediately called my father.”

They spoke many times on the phone, Haytham said but “at that time I couldn’t ask him a lot”. It was only a week after his release that Haytham felt able to broach the subject of his father’s detention with him.

“I called him for a long time and I knew everything about what happened”. Haytham takes a moment before he begins. “He was totrtued three times and beaten by electric cable on his feet. Just to admit a fault”.

When pressed on what fault, Haytham just says “any fault”.

It seems his father was spared the worst of the punishment meted out by an increasingly vindictive regime. Stories of electrification and hanging by the hands that Haytham relates are easy to believe when stories of revenge killings by the Syrian army have been reported from Homs.

His father’s inmates “arms and legs were swollen from being beaten and the grooves in their skin are two centimeters from the beating with the electric cable”.

A man was hanged by his hands for days on end until he agreed to admit “crimes” on state TV.

“Anybody can admit to any crime in the world when he suffers such torture,” Haytham’s father says.

When his father was finally released “they did not give him his car and they lost his identity card and his money and everything,” Haytham relates, “but he was ok and this is all that matters”

When asked if the release suggests a growing confidence within Assad’s regime following the fall of Homs, Haytham believes it means nothing. “On a daily basis they arrest ten and release one”.

But on the future of the revolution, Haytham is adamant. “The revolution will win”.

“The question is whether the country will win or not. Because this regime will take the country to its end if it stays acting

Gareth Lewis

Gareth Lewis

Former news editor (2011-2012).

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