Syria – A story (as heard on Kaleidoscope)
Tune in to the kaleidoscope every Monday to Friday for a brand new segment called Syria – A story,highlighting the plight of our brothers,sisters and children in Syria.
Here’s last weeks story’s just in case you missed it.
Syria – A story
14 years old
I was at a funeral when I first heard the rocket that caused a massacre. I think it was targeting
the funeral. My cousin and my uncle died that day.
Dead bodies along with injured people were scattered on the ground. I found body parts all
over each other; and when we reached the mosque we found tens and tens of dead bodies
there. We started to rescue people in need.
Dogs were eating the dead bodies for two days after the massacre. There were tons of people
in the mosques too. They were dead, all of them. I was afraid, of course I was afraid.
I was devastated. I hated my life, and I hated myself. I lost my uncle and my cousin. Me and
my cousin used to do everything together, and I lost him – my cousin who used to stand
always by my side.
My house was burnt down. Everything was gone. I wanted to run in, but I couldn’t – it was still
too hot. I looked around and everyone was so devastated, no-one could look at each other.
The children in Syria need help. They need help because they are being tortured, shelled,
shot at. They take children and put them in front of them. They create a human shield of
children. They know that the people in the town will not shoot their own children. I saw this
with my own eyes.
I want children in Syria to escape. They should run away so they don’t die in the shelling.
What do I remember of Syria? I remember that whenever shelling took place we ran to
a shelter. Inside, children shouted and wept a lot, they were so afraid. I remember that so
many children were being tortured.
Because of what is happening in Syria we don’t play any more. I miss my house. I miss my
neighbourhood. I miss playing football.
I ask the leaders all around the world to save the children in Syria, save them from all
the shelling. Children need medicine. We need clothes, and food. Every child should play
and be happy. I am worried about the future. What will happen to us? Where will we go?
15 years old
“They hung me up from the ceiling by my wrists, with my feet off the ground. Then I was beaten.”
I left Syria because of the constant bombardment, the constant shelling, and the torture.
The children are all terrified, they don’t understand what’s happening.
I was arrested. See these marks? My hands were tied with plastic cord. They were tied
so tightly. Children were with me in the cell and their hands were tied in the same way.
We’d beg them to untie us, but they would tie the cord tighter.
Some men came to our village. I tried to escape, but they took me to jail. Except it wasn’t a jail
– it was my old school.
It’s ironic – they took me there to torture me, in the same place I used to go to school to learn.
They had taken over the school and made it into a torture centre.
When I realised that was where we were going, I was so sad, I wanted to cry.
I was kept there for ten days. For the first two days, we were forced to stand upright. I was
blindfolded and my hands were tied with plastic cord. I still have the scars.
I was terrified. More than 100 of us were kept in a room in the school. One boy was only 12.
He was kept in prison for five days. His hands were tied behind him, like me. I remember
thinking, “What can he have done? He’s a 12-year-old boy.”
After two days I was taken out of the room to be interrogated. I hadn’t eaten anything or drunk
any water, and I was extremely weak. They hung me up from the ceiling by my wrists, with my
feet off the ground, then I was beaten. They wanted us to speak, to confess to something.
Most people only last an hour before they pass out. If you were hung up like that for more
than two hours, you’d die.
I passed out. I passed out from the severe pain of hanging like that, and from the beating.
They took me down and threw cold water on my face to wake me up. Then they took turns
stubbing out their cigarettes on me. Here, I have these scars.
The 12-year-old boy who was with me was hung up too, and had cigarette burns on him.
saw it with my own eyes. Some other people had electricity used on them. I didn’t. I don’t
know why them and not me. I don’t think there was a reason – it depended what mood
these men were in. They showed no sympathy, no mercy. There were maybe around 70
of them, but I can’t be sure.
It’s not unusual to see a school used in this way. They’ve used everything – schools, clinics.
The place we went to get medicine from is now used for torture. I was so terrified of that
place. I still am.
Another thing they do is to use children to protect themselves. They know we can’t shoot
our own children, so they put the children in front – so they’re a human shield – and march
into our villages. It’s terrifying for the children. Many of them die.
16 years old
“I have seen children slaughtered. I don’t think I’ll ever be OK again.”
I’ve been here in Za’atari for a month now. Why did I leave? What a question. There’s no
one left in Syria.
At the beginning we could just about survive. We would go to the shelter, we would hide,
and we would live. But now they’re using different weapons. Before, the shelters were safe,
but now the weapons destroy even those in the basements of houses. I couldn’t stand what
was happening: the shelling, the destruction, the torture.
At my home in Syria, we dug a hole in the garden to hide in. It was only big enough for three
people to crouch in, but whenever we knew that violence was coming, I would climb in there
with my brothers. My mother would lead us in and then cover it over with corrugated iron,
and throw sand over the top. And we would wait, sometimes for hours.
The last time I was in there it was from 7am to 5pm. It was terrifying – I was so worried
that they would find us and kill me and my two brothers. We’d hide in the hole when armed
men were walking the streets, and in the basement when shelling happened. The shelling was
almost daily. We’d use the hole at least once a week, often on Thursdays. Thursdays are a big
day for massacres and crackdowns because prayers on a Friday can be a trigger for protest.
Once, I was arrested along with hundreds of other people. They separated out the children
and I was the oldest at 16. I can’t tell you how many there were, but there were many. We
were forced into a small cell together. There was nowhere to go – there wasn’t even a toilet,
just a hole in the floor.
There was a group of small children with us whose parents were ‘wanted’. There were perhaps
13 children in total. They weren’t allowed food or water. When it was time for us to eat, their
group was surrounded by armed men who stopped anyone giving them food. These children
were too weak to even cry. They just lay on the floor.
They were also subjected to repeated beating with sticks, worse than us. I knew a boy called
Ala’a. He was part of that group. He was only six years old. He didn’t understand what was
happening. His dad was told that his child would die unless he gave himself up. I’d say that this
six-year-old boy was tortured more than anyone else in that room. He wasn’t given food or
water for three days, and he was so weak he used to faint all the time. He was beaten regularly.
I watched him die. He only survived for three days and then he simply died. He was terrified
all the time. They treated his body as though he was a dog.
“One of them had taken the bet and shot him in the head.”
I was walking home in Karak, Dera’a. I came behind two armed men and overheard
them taking bets on something. They were planning to use something for target practice.
When they then agreed the bets I realised they were talking about an eight-year-old boy
who was playing alone on the road. I realised too late – one of them had taken the bet
and shot him in the head. Everyone ran and the street was deserted.
The child was lying on the street, I couldn’t move. It wasn’t a clean shot and he didn’t die
straight away. It took hours. His mother was inside the house on the same street and she
was screaming. She wanted to reach her child, but the men kept firing into the street and
taunting this mother: “you can’t get to your child, you can’t get to your child.”
He died alone on the street outside his home.I wasn’t able to think about anything by then. I thought I’d die in that cell and I couldn’t see
past that. If they overheard us talking, we were beaten fiercely and repeatedly. So we didn’t
talk. All we heard was screaming, crying and silence.
When I left that place I felt I’d escaped death. Now, I feel that no one cares about Syria.
No one is helping us and we’re dying. If there was even 1% of humanity in the world,
this wouldn’t happen.
I feel as though I’m dying from the inside. At least when I die this will be over. [At this point
Wael begins to cry.] Torture is not only physical, it’s mental. When you see women and
children scream and die, it has an effect. Each and every Syrian has been devastated mentally
by this war.
Before, I laughed all the time, now I don’t, what do I have to laugh about? Some children
from my village have become mute because of what they’ve seen. Young children are worse.
They don’t understand why – none of us do, really. They are just sad, terrified children.
These children used to be taken to the park by their mother, now their mothers are forcing
them into basements for protection and they don’t understand.
There’s no way I can cope, no way I can turn over a new page. I have seen children slaughtered.
I don’t think I’ll ever be OK again.
13 years old
“Once, when I was in the shelter, I was so scared I had a fit. My sister told me it was a nervous breakdown.”
To start with the violence wasn’t so extreme. We could cope. But now they’ve started
to kill children.
When they started shelling our village we spent ten days in a row in our basement.
I’ve heard a lot about torture and slaughter. Thank God I’ve not witnessed it myself. But I have
seen what happens after torture. I saw it with my brother, Hamam. Seven months ago they
broke into our uncle’s house and starting beating my brother with sticks. Then they took turns
jumping on his back. He was beaten so badly that he still can’t walk.
There are no hospitals to take him to – they refuse to treat people. So my uncle brought
him to our house. What else could he do? I remember seeing my brother the first time
after he was beaten. He was so pale and he couldn’t walk. I thought he was about to die.
We put him in bed. He’s still there. We had to leave him there when we came here.
When we fled we didn’t have time to pack properly, so I have none of my things with me.
I don’t even have anything to remind me of my brother.
One of my friends here witnessed her mother dying in front of her. Since then she’s lost
Once, when I was in the shelter, I was so scared I had a fit. My sister told me it was a nervous
I don’t want to eat anymore. I’m not hungry. I’ve lost so much weight over the past few months.
When I think about what happened, I can’t stop myself crying. I cry all the time.
I don’t know how long it will take us to recover – perhaps a lifetime.
Source Credits – Save the Children UK