Kurdish poet Fared Makhmouri is a young man from Erbil in the south of Kurdistan. He is an intellectual and an experienced journalist, and he represents a new generation of poets. He said:
“When I arrived in Damascus on May 1st 2007 I decided to stay there for few days to film heritage sites and some of the markets. On 3rd May I went to Hamidiya market and its outlying areas. I had my camera and started to film some scenes like every other tourist did, and it was only a short time before two civilian men approached me and harshly ordered me to follow them. When I asked them who they were, and why I should go with them, they said they were Political Security Services staff, and I would find the answers to my questions when we arrived at the prisons. I had no choice."
Fared Makhmouri added that during his detention, which lasted about fifteen days, he was sent to three different prisons, each harder than the last. He was detained in Political Security Services branch, and the State Security Building.
“The intelligence officers of the Political Security Services had creative and malicious methods of torture: painful beating with cables, punches, hanging by the legs, insults, verbal abuse and starvation, and food would be full of gravel and sawdust, or with extra salt or without salt. I lived a life of dirty and brutal torture which I have not read about in any book."
"They threw us into a room so that we were about 70 people in a small space that did not exceed 4 x 4m. The room had a small metal window, and we stuck to one to another, hardly able to move. At night we were forced to sleep on top of each other, so that the first group of detainees lay on the ground, and other detainees were laying onto of them to make a second layer. When a person in the first layer wanted to change his sleeping position, the person above him had to change his position too. We were subjected to breathing difficulties and the stench of sweaty bodies, and deadly psychological torment. They did not think of us as being human, we were isolated from the world, and any objections raised by us were confronted with a lot of obscene insults that seemed to be well-practiced."
“In the prison where I was detained, I met many detainees, and in particular Syria Kurds. There was a young Kurdish man called Gandi who had been arrested for trivial reasons, e.g. taking part in a demonstration, and he had been held in prison for 12 months without trial. There was also a Kurdish young man, Rakan, from al-Jazeera area who had been imprisoned on charges of smuggling. There were a further forty to fifty Kurdish people. They talk to me about the severity of their incarceration; they said to me that they were imprisoned for long periods of time underground, in deep basements, where they were not able to see the sun for three months. They were physically weakened and had lost their natural skin colour, and were suffering mental and physical exhaustion. Their hair had became long, and the smell of sweat was awful as they were not allowed to wash for a long time. I met a Kurdish movie artist, a young man from South Kurdistan named Rizgar who was detained with another young man called Halkawet."
"I noted that when you are a Kurd in Syria's prisons your suffering is increased, and you are insulted more. The Syrian police believe that Kurds do not deserve life, however, unusually, an Arab teenager younger than fifteen years was jailed among adult detainees."
“My charge was very serious as it was for spying. Put simply, I had been accused of this as I had been seen filming, but I was filming the market and minarets. I could not tell them that I lived previously in Syria as that would bring more problems. They beat me severely during the investigation, and insulted me and swore at me. I did not know that they would behave in this way. Eventually, after some pressure came from abroad and they could not confirm any of evidence against me, they could not detain me longer so I was released."
“Bribery and extortion are commonly used by Syrian intelligence services. If you pay a sum of money maybe you can improve your circumstances a little, but it does not prevent verbal abuse and beatings. This will be impossible, so if you pay two hundred dollars for example, they will reduce torture from two hours to an hour and forty-five minutes, and so on, but this is not fixed, because every officer or a policeman has his dealing price. The police are defined by the severity and brutality they use."
“Ironically, a known Iraqi Arab poet, who will remain anonymous, was also detained with us, but he wrote a poem praising President Bashar al-Assad, and then handed it to the intelligence officer. He was very quickly separated from us and freed “.