(MENAFN - Arab News) Syrian who escaped to Riyadh recounts appalling conditions under Bashar Assad's torture regime.
A Syrian who fled to the Kingdom has told Arab News that Syria's leader Bashar Assad had initially ordered his forces to kill all demonstrators protesting against his regime, but then commanded that they kill everyone in their way, whether they were civilians or militants.
A'ayed Ahmed Younus described the sad events he witnessed and the bad situation the country was in, characterized by a lack of food and other basic necessities.
"The Syrian regime has created an appalling humanitarian crisis. Tanks, mortars and heavy artillery continue targeting civilians in residential areas, including women and children, leaving hundreds of people dead on a daily basis," said Younus, bursting into tears as he spoke.
"No electricity, no communication devices, no water. The regime's forces have stormed hospitals and forced thousands of Syrians to flee from their homes and occupied mosques to make them military barracks. The United Nations has found that crimes against humanity have been committed in Syria, but they did nothing but throw out statistics."
When Younus talks about the men who tortured him, his voice fills with rage.
"I will never forgive them, not only me, but all children living in fear," he said. "If they are not brought to justice, it is me who will avenge my treatment at their hands. Now I know how bad torturing a man is, especially in front of his family."
Dressed in a striped shirt and leather jacket, face covered with a thick black beard, Younus sits in a caf on the outskirts of Riyadh after a long trip from Syria to Tripoli in Lebanon, then to Amman and finally Riyadh.
He has been a refugee here for two months. He is one of thousands of civilians, militants and protesters who were captured and imprisoned by the Syrian security forces because they tried to overthrow the Assad regime.
Arrested in May 2011 in his hometown of Baniyas, he was jailed for a total of 70 days in six prisons, where he says he was beaten and tortured repeatedly. "I was luckier than the others because some stayed in prison for more than six months" he added.
For 27 years, he led a life as an ordinary citizen. He has got a bachelor's degree in Islamic law, worked for a family store, and used to visit the mosque for prayers.
In March 15, 2011, there was a popular uprising in Dara'a, south of Damascus, which increased the tension in the country further.
"Baniyas was one of the first cities to rebel," recalled Younus. "I have not missed a single event. What happened initially was that protesters pressed for economic reforms and the release of dissidents. This developed into a revolt after government forces responded with their full force."
According to the UN, more than 5,000 people so far have died from the violence.
Younus was hiding with various friends until May 20 when he was spotted by a local spy while he paid a short visit to his family. An hour later, uniformed men knocked at his door.
"It was useless to resist," he said. "They destroyed the house looking for any guns but they found nothing, but that didn't stop them from taking me."
He called for a new Syria with a real democracy to organize the country and restore security and rights to the people.
"Certainly it is definitely desirable that the international community has a clear and consistent view on the Syrian crisis because that is the only way in which we are going to be able to put real pressure on the Syrian regime. And this crisis, you know, can't be allowed to continue. There is a need to implement a credible political plan leading to a transition period whereby Syria can become a democratic country, a country in which all parts of society are involved and feel that they are in a win-win scenario."
When it was pointed out to him that this idea of a democratic Syria is far from becoming a reality due to the escalation of violence, he started talking about his friends who had died in the protests.
"Four were killed, 10 are prisoners, and I don't know about the others. I think it is a tragedy, like what we read in Shakespeare's tragedies. Just try to visit Homs; you will see a ghost city, full of darkness and bats."
Younus showed Arab News a picture of one of his friends being tortured by "Al-Shabeehah," who followed the Syrian regime and killed many people based on the regime's orders.
He said they worshipped Assad and his policies even though many of his soldiers and officers defected.
Younus showed Arab News his photos as a child and when in university living a quiet life with his family and friends. He described the economic situation and secret intelligence force's practices that prevailed throughout his life.
As he ate, he talked about the children of Baniyas and how they suffered greatly after the uprising and how they are living in poverty while waiting for UN aid to save their lives.
He stopped eating and then said, "I can't eat any more, I am full," even though he ate no more than a mouthful.
"How come I am eating while my brothers are being killed and my sisters are being raped by these pigs?" he asked, referring to the Syrian security forces.
Younus finally wiped away the tears and said firmly: "We are going on and we won't stop until our feet are on his (Assad's) head. He will leave sooner or later. His day is coming, his day is coming."