3.5-year sentence for Tehran University student activist Leila Hosseinzadeh was
upheld by the Revision Court of Tehran Provinc
University Student Leila Hosseinzadeh Sentenced To 3.5 Years
Sketches and Clothes, Libyan Women Set Up Businesses against the Odds
Report: Women Too Often Suffer Violence in Families
of Saudi Women Married To Foreigners Have Residency, Work Rights
How One Girl Overcame the Armed Men Who Blocked Her School
Jersey Woman Sentenced For Supporting ISIS — Again
SANDF Major's Hearing Over Refusal to Remove Headscarf Set For August
Closed Over ‘Disrespect Toward Women’
Woman Recalls Regime Jail Torture, Rape Threats
by New Age Islam News Bureau
Arabia’s new US Ambassador Is a Princess with an Impossible Job
Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan has a daunting task as she prepares to
take up her role as the kingdom’s ambassador to Washington with relations at
their lowest point since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
murder of columnist Jamal Khashoggi, the long-running war and humanitarian
crisis in Yemen and the detention of Saudi female activists have all shattered
the kingdom’s relations with much of the Washington establishment. The
princess, expected to arrive in the US capital within weeks, will try to begin
reversing all of that.
the exception of the Trump administration, political attitudes in Washington
toward Saudi Arabia are toxic these days,” said Fawaz A. Gerges, a professor of
international relations at the London School of Economics. “She will have to
actively engage members of Congress and the foreign policy elite and reassure
them that Saudi Arabia hears their concerns. Her mission is very daunting.”
crisis in relations is undermining what could have been a golden era in
Saudi-US ties. US President Donald Trump arrived at the White House as Crown
Prince Mohammed bin Salman was consolidating his power as the kingdom’s de
facto ruler, promising sweeping economic and social changes for a country long
criticized for its record
on women’s rights and adherence to a strict 18th century interpretation of
made Saudi Arabia the centerpiece of his Middle East strategy of isolating
Iran, hosting Prince Mohammed in the Oval Office months after his inauguration,
promising hundreds of billions of dollars in weapons sales to the kingdom and
making his first trip abroad as president to Riyadh, where he took part in a
ceremonial sword dance.
Saudi Arabia has become a pariah in Washington outside the Trump
administration. Senior lawmakers in both parties who struggle to get any
legislation passed remain unified on the issue of punishing the kingdom, and
the crown prince in particular, for the killing of Khashoggi and the war in
Yemen, which the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
supporters of a strong US-Saudi alliance, the constant flow of bad news hasn’t
let up. Last week, a UN expert assigned to investigate the October killing of
Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul released grim new details about
his murder and dismemberment, recommending a probe into the possible role of
Prince Mohammed in the incident.
official, Agnes Callamard, said she found no “smoking gun” and that “no
conclusion is made as to guilt,” but in a 100-page report she said there was
“credible evidence, warranting further investigation of high-level Saudi
officials’ individual liability, including the crown prince’s.”
officials rejected her findings and have repeatedly said the crown prince
wasn’t involved in the killing. The kingdom’s minister of state for foreign
affairs, Adel Al-Jubeir, said that Callamard’s report “presented many unfounded
accusations, including the violation of a number of international conventions,
and is totally unacceptable to the leadership of the Kingdom,” according to the
official Saudi Press Agency.
same week as the UN report, the Republican-controlled Senate voted to block $8
billion in arms sales to a handful of countries led by Saudi Arabia. It was a
rare bipartisan rebuke of Trump after he used an emergency declaration to move
forward on the deal despite congressional objections.
Princess Reema. The daughter of former Ambassador to the US Bandar bin Sultan
-- renowned as one of the most influential Saudi envoys during his 22 years in
Washington -- the princess arrives with a deep knowledge of US politics and
culture and a reputation as an advocate for women’s rights.
some others in the extended royal family have been stripped of influence and
wealth, the princess remains well-connected: Her grandfather was the brother of
officials say she knows the challenges she’ll have to confront in Washington.
Reema “realizes that bilateral relations have been tested in the past but that
the two countries have always managed to overcome their differences,” Fahad
Nazer, the spokesman at the Saudi embassy in Washington, said in response to
emailed questions. “Princess Reema will do all she can to make sure that this
strong partnership not only endures but that it continues to strengthen well
into the future.”
will arrive in Washington amid heightened concerns about a military clash
between the U.S. and Saudi rival Iran. Saudi officials, who have long pressed
for tougher U.S. measures against Tehran, arguably haven’t had as strong a
relationship with the White House since the days when Princess Reema’s father,
who was nicknamed Bandar Bush for his close relationship with President George
H.W. Bush, operated out of the kingdom’s embassy.
Arabia greatly values its strategically vital bilateral relations with the
United States,” Nazer said. “Princess Reema is committed to ensuring that the
relationship continues to strengthen and broaden on the political, military,
economic and cultural fronts.”
Reema emerged as a key player in the kingdom’s efforts to revamp its relations
with the U.S. before being appointed ambassador. In January of last year, she
went to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where she defended
Saudi Arabia: “There is a determination to not allow us to create a new
narrative,” she said. “And my question is: Why?”
graduate of George Washington University in Washington, the princess has spoken
out on issues of gender discrimination in the kingdom, arguing that it can’t
afford leaving women out of full participation in its workforce. She traveled
to the U.S. last year, speaking at the Atlantic Council on Prince Mohammed’s
economic agenda. She also has worked with the Saudi Education Ministry to
include sports education for girls in schools.
the U.S., Uber Technologies Inc. added Princess Reema to its global policy
advisory board in May 2016. The same year, the Saudi Arabian Public Investment
Fund completed a strategic investment in Uber, and took a seat on the
ride-hailing company’s board.
find a receptive audience in the Trump administration, which continues to
defend the U.S.-Saudi partnership, backing the kingdom-led military alliance
fighting in Yemen and saying it supports justice for Khashoggi without pointing
blame at Prince Mohammed. Saudi Arabia would be a linchpin of Jared Kushner’s
long-promised Middle East peace plan. The president’s son-in-law and senior
adviser, who’s leading a conference in Bahrain this week on potential economic
aid to Palestinians, forged a partnership with the crown prince early in
a recent interview with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Prince Mohammed said that
“strategic relations with the U.S. will not be affected” by what he described
as “media campaigns or arbitrary stances.”
Reema’s challenge will be to try to refocus the image of Saudi Arabia and the
crown prince as the harbingers of a moderate form of Islam that breaks with
kingdom’s past, according to James M. Dorsey, senior fellow at Singapore’s S.
Rajaratnam School of International Studies and its Middle East Institute. It ’s
likely to be a long-term project.
will take substantially more to soften the kingdom’s critics in Congress and
beyond,” Dorsey said. “To achieve that, Reema would have to be backed by some
3.5-year sentence for Tehran University student activist Leila Hosseinzadeh was
upheld by the Revision Court of Tehran Province. She is also banned from
leaving the country for two years.
Hosseinzadeh, secretary of the central council of students at Tehran
University, was arrested during the nationwide uprisings of January 2018, and
released on bail after some time.
Monday, June 24, 2019, Branch 36 of the Revision Court of Tehran Province
informed her of her sentence. Leila Hosseinzadeh has been sentenced to 30
months’ imprisonment on the charge of “association and collusion against
national security” and another one year for “propaganda against the state.”
activist Leila Hosseinzadeh had been previously sentenced on March 7, 2018, to
six years in prison and another two years of being deprived of leaving the
country, by Branch 26 of the Court of Tehran. Her first trial was held on
October 22, 2018, and her revision hearing was held on May 14, 2019.
this verdict, a group of students of the School of Social Sciences of Tehran
University held a gathering at their school to protest the continuing trend of
arrests and verdicts issued for students by the Judiciary.
of the Ministry of Sciences and Higher Education had previously promised
students, that the cases involving student activists be terminated and returned
to the university. This, however, has never been done. Student protesters
demanded that officials of the university come in person and account for the
situation of the arrested students and other students of the university who are
awaiting their verdicts. Student protesters emphasized that if they do not
receive any response from the officials, they would continue their protests.
on the data compiled by the Women’s Committee of the National Council of
Resistance of Iran, at least 500 women including a large number of female
students were arrested and detained during the nationwide protests in
When inflation began eating into her state-paid salary Libyan architect and
assistant professor Seham Saleh started selling drawings over the Internet to
help pay the bills.
joins a growing number of Libyan women launching start-ups in the conservative
Arab country, where many still think a woman’s place is in the home but where
the strains on personal and family income following years’ of political chaos
have forced women to look for more work.
has only a tiny private sector, which means there is a market for
locally-produced goods. The economy is dominated by the state, which employs
most adults under a structure set up by Muammar Qaddafi, who was toppled in
are the traditional breadwinners, although around 30 percent of women were in
the labor force as of 2015, according to a UN report.
cannot live on my assistant professor salary of 1,000 dinars ($256) even if it
is paid out,” said Saleh. She has been selling drawings of people in Libyan
dress or book marks she created on a computer.
God... people wanted to buy the products,” she said. She also does freelance
work as an architect.
one of the richest countries in the region, the chaos and civil war that ensued
after the fall of Qaddafi has seen Libya’s living standards erode. Little is
now produced in Libya other than oil, even milk is imported from Europe.
inflation over the last four years has seen real incomes lose more than half of
their purchasing power, and the government effectively devalued the dinar last
cash crisis means public servants often do not get their salaries paid out in
full. Lenders have no cash deposits as the rich prefer to hold their cash
themselves, rather than deposit it in a bank.
rarely had jobs outside of sectors such as teaching, although the need for more
family income has changed the situation, said Jasmin Khoja, head of a women’s
business support venture.
organization, the Jusoor center for studies and development, has trained some
33 would-be female entrepreneurs, offers legal advice and office space as women
often can’t afford their own.
Seham’s “Naksha” art business is in its early stages, others such as Najwa
Shoukri’s start-up are growing fast. She started designing clothes from home in
2016, and selling them online.
together with five other women, she has a workshop selling 50 pieces a month
and plans to open a shop next year on Jaraba Street, the main fashion shopping
avenue in Tripoli.
make the shop a success her output would have to rise to 150 pieces a month.
Her brother and family have contributed to investments worth 10,000 dinars.
biggest challenges for start-ups are legal hurdles and the lack of electronic
Libyan commercial laws go back to the 1960s and are aimed at big corporations
such as oil firms, not start-ups. Under these regulations firms need to deposit
thousands of dinars.
do not give loans, which stops projects and makes them unable to grow or employ
other women and young people,” Khoja said.
Mayaz Elahshmi started a business last week training women to fix computers and
is big demand as many women are reluctant to go to a phone shop where men work,
as they have personal files on their phones.”
people came to her first training session, each paying 30 dinars.
Edith M. Lederer
NATIONS — The U.N. women’s agency says in a new report that families around the
world can be loving and supporting but too often are the place for
discrimination and violence against women — and home is one of the most
dangerous places for a woman. U.N. Women’s Executive Director Phumzile
Mlambo-Ngcuka told a news conference Tuesday launching the report that’s
because of “the shocking pervasiveness of intimate partner violence.” In 2017,
for example, every single day 137 women were killed by a family member, she
the report recognizes the vital importance of families to cultures and
economies, it also says that in every region there are concerted efforts to
deny women autonomy and the right to make their own decisions in the name of
protecting “family values.”
am here today to say that this is not acceptable and cannot be allowed to
stand,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said. “Women around the world, and their allies, will not
allow a roll-back of everything that we have achieved.”
great progress in legally eliminating discrimination against women, she said,
“it’s no accident” that the slowest progress has been in family laws that
govern a woman’s right to choose who and when to marry and her right to divorce
and inherit money and property.
287-page report entitled “Families in a Changing World” provides data on the
variety of family forms, based on U.N. population division data from 86
countries around the world of all incomes.
to the data, 38% of households globally are couples living with children, 27%
are extended families including other relatives and 8% are one-parent families,
the vast majority led by women often juggling paid work, raising children and
unpaid domestic work. Households comprising couples without children accounted
for about 13%, and one-person households for 12.5%.
report said same-sex families are increasingly visible in all regions, adding
that as of last month, 42 countries around the world have granted same-sex
couples the right to marry or form a civil union. At the same time, however, it
said some 68 countries criminalize consensual sexual relations between partners
of the same sex, and in 11 of those countries such relations are punishable by
said the report shows authoritatively for the first time that families are
also counters the push-back against women’s independence “by showing that
families, in all their diversity, can be critical drivers of gender equality”
provided governments adopt policies with women’s rights at their core.
Razavi, U.N. Women’s chief of research and data, noted other huge changes
age of marriage, for example, has increased in every region of the world from
21.9 in 1990 to 23.3 in 2010, she said, which has enabled women to complete
their educations, get a foothold in the labor market and support themselves
some cases, Razavi said, women are choosing to delay marriage or live together.
example, she said, “in some countries in Latin America, southern Africa and
Europe up to three-quarters of women aged 25-29 in a relationship are
report stresses the importance of women having their own income and recommends
greater public investments in child care services and in social protection —
and paid parental leave to spur women into the job market.
Sharafeldin, a board member of Musawah International Movement for Equality and
Justice in the Muslim Family, told the launch that the report’s first
recommendation — to adopt family laws based on equality and non-discrimination
to expand women’s choices — poses special difficulties for Muslims.
all Muslim families laws are hundreds of years old and were based on rulings by
jurists at the time, she said. Some condone marital rape, permit husbands to
“discipline” their wife, allow child marriage and polygamy, and restrict
women’s movements outside the home without their husband’s permission.
despite the risks, Sharafeldin said Muslim feminist scholars and activists are
developing “a brave new family jurisprudence ... with gender egalitarian
possibilities that are rooted in Muslim scripture.”
Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, for example, a legal ruling has
banned child marriage and domestic violence, she said.
India, after relentless advocacy by Muslim women, the Supreme Court declared
unconstitutional the practice whereby a husband can divorce his wife on the
spot by just saying “I divorce you” three times, Sharafeldin said.
Tunisia has banned polygamy and Egypt set the age of marriage at 18,
said Musawah International is campaigning this year for a comprehensive reform
of Muslim family laws.
is time families, in all their diverse forms, become a safe space for women,
men and children together,” Sharafeldin said.
— Children of Saudi mothers from non-Saudi fathers have residency rights and
enjoy right to residency, work, education and medical treatment on equal
footing with the children of Saudi mothers and fathers, the Human Rights
Commission (HRC) has said.
explained that the children of Saudi mothers and non-Saudi fathers who are
staying in the Kingdom have the right to be issued with permanent iqama
(residency permit) and the mothers can recruit them if they are living outside.
commission said in this case, the government will bear the cost of issuance and
renewal of iqama.
said the children can work in the private sector without transferring their
iqama and they will be included within the Saudi citizen category in private
to the commission, children of Saudi mothers and non-Saudi fathers will be
treated as full-fledged Saudi citizens in getting education and medial
children should, however, have ID cards to prove their credentials.
wife can also bring her foreign husband if he is living outside the Kingdom and
can transfer his iqama on her if he so wishes.
non-Saudi husband will also have the right to work for the private sector
without transferring his iqama on them.
husband should have valid passport which is recognized by the Saudi authorities
and the marriage should have been formally documented and made under the
consent of the concerned Saudi authorities.
years, armed men surrounded a girls' school in a village in Pakistan's
Balochistan province, to prevent the girls going inside. But one eventually
made it to university and is now training to become a journalist. She told the
story of her struggle to the BBC's Shumaila Jaffrey.
spent my childhood in fear," says Naeema Zehri, a student at Sardar
Bahadur Khan Women's University in Quetta. "It still sends shivers down my
spine when I think about it."
grew up in a tribal village in the Khuzdar district of Pakistan's restive
Balochistan province. Her childhood coincided with a time when lawlessness was
at its peak, she says. The news was full of tales of Baloch men being abducted
and killed in targeted attacks. Fear, prejudice, and weapons were everywhere.
is Pakistan's poorest province. It has endured long-running hostilities between
separatist insurgents and the Pakistani army. In its remote mountainous
villages, life is generally miserable, but women suffer particularly, Naeema
childhood was marred with poverty. We are seven siblings and my father left us
and married another woman. My mother was not educated, so we had to depend on
family charity to meet our basic needs. Education was a luxury that we could
Naeema, getting an education was a struggle. She went to the free state-run
girls' primary school in her village until the age of 10, but the school was
says that from 2009 to 2013, the school was taken over by criminals supported
by the local tribal chief and the men put up a barrier at the school entrance
to keep the girls from the building. The BBC cannot independently confirm this,
but such situations were not uncommon in Balochistan.
picket was barricaded; it was manned by six to eight armed individuals all the
time. I remember walking past it in my childhood. We used to be terrified by
the armed men standing out there. I would always fear that they might shoot
me," Naeema says.
up in shalwar kameez [loose baggy shirts and trousers worn by men in Pakistan],
they used to have guns in their hands, their faces were always covered in
scarves, only their eyes were visible."
send your girls to school'
armed men never approached or threatened the children, Naeema says, but the
picket served two purposes: it was to keep the girls away from education, and
so the tribal chief's armed men could use the campus as a hideout.
was a clear message to the people," she says. "Don't send your girls
effect on the village was devastating. Government teachers did not dare to work
in such an environment. Naeema and a few other girls were admitted to another
school in a nearby village, but it was just a formality. Parents sent their
girls there to get free cooking oil - which was provided by an international
donor organisation to increase girls' enrolment in the area - but not to learn.
Girls had their attendance marked in registers and then went home. Naeema says
the teachers were scared, but partially corrupt too.
were many schools that only existed on paper in our area. Teachers were deputed
in such schools and they were drawing salaries too - but the schools were
completely dysfunctional," she says.
the violence in Balochistan was taking its toll. Naeema had to face the
abduction and death of her two maternal uncles within one year. She says they
simply disappeared, and their bullet-riddled bodies were found months later.
was completely shattered. They were so young, so full of life; I couldn't
overcome their deaths for a long time."
the tragedy motivated Naeema to continue her education, she says. After
finishing middle school she had to stop going to school but she didn't let it
disrupt her studies.
family couldn't afford education, and they were also under pressure by the
was because local women were not encouraged to pursue school education, she
says - but to go to madrassas (religious seminaries) or to do chores.
is hypocrisy around that too. Women are not allowed to go out to get education,
but when it comes to helping men in the field, there are no barriers. Those who
stay home, they earn a living through embroidery - but it's the men who get and
spend their wages."
continued her studies at home and took exams as a private candidate. When she
finished high school, her education was interrupted for some time because her
brothers opposed it. But the murder of her uncles gave her new purpose. She
noted that there was a complete silence in the media, and it left a mark on her
Balochs not humans? Why do their lives not matter? I found it extremely
hurtful," she says. "When will people start showing sensitivity
toward Balochs?" The experience made her want to take up journalism.
the stories of my people'
media outlets are not allowed to report from Balochistan unless they have
special permission from the authorities - which they rarely get. Pakistan's
mainstream media is also under a blanket ban when it comes to reporting on the
insurgency in the province.
says that when she heard about Balochistan's only women's university, she
persuaded her family to let her keep studying. Her brothers opposed the idea
but one uncle supported her and paid her fees for a year. After that, she was
out of funds - but she applied for a USAID sponsored scholarship, funded by the
US government, and now her education is completely covered.
want to become a journalist so I can tell stories of my people, the people of
Balochistan," she says. "And let me tell you that I won't be
scared... I will always stand with the truth."
Emily Saul and Max Jaeger
New Jersey woman who was already busted for providing material support to ISIS
went right back to her evil ways — even as she was supposed to be helping the
feds fight the terror group, officials revealed Monday.
Amera Ceasar, 24, cut a cooperation deal with the feds following her previous
arrest for aiding the terror group — but flouted the deal by outing herself as
a cooperator and resuming her ISIS rhetoric with potential recruits online,
prosecutors said in Brooklyn federal court.
now faces up to life in prison.
failed and washed out as a cooperator,” said Assistant US Attorney Josh Hafetz.
“She has revealed her cooperation online.”
was charged with providing material support to ISIS in 2016 — which carries a
potential sentence of life in prison — but she cut a deal with the feds a year
later and was instead let go on supervised release, according to officials.
she raised red flags for investigators after posting defiant messages on social
media that violated the conditions of her plea deal — and included references
to Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen, as well as knife, gun and bomb emoji.
didn’t do anything wrong under Islam but stand up for my din,” she wrote in one
post, using the Arabic word for “faith” or “religion.”
refusal to accept responsibility while deferring to Islamic law rather than US
law raised a “red flag,” according to government witness Dr. Lorenzo Vidino ,
director of the program of extremism at George Washington University.
assessment is that she retains the mindset of ISIS. She refers to this court,
this whole system, as a ‘kafir’ system,” he testified, using the Arabic term
for infidel. “She implies the only way to practice Islam is to practice ISIS.
Which is clearly not the case.”
revealed she was cooperating with the feds to at least two people in 2018.
fbi put me under a different name because they wanted my case too be sealed
from the country etc,” Ceasar told an unnamed individual using a phony Facebook
account that she registered, according to court papers unsealed Monday.
one Facebook message, she told a person associated with UK-based ISIS
supporters that she “went to prison because some the Muslims were spies :(” and
later added “I just got released from prison [smiley face]” — which prosecutors
said revealed she was cooperating.
believes Islam is disrespected in the United States and wanted to help “make
Islam great again,” said defense witness Daisy Khan, of the Women’s Islamic
Initiative in Spirituality and Equality, a reference to President Trump’s
met with Ceasar six times at the request of defense attorneys and determined
her actual knowledge of Islam was limited at best.
doesn’t know what much about her religion,” Khan said.
videos posted to YouTube in 2015, Ceasar rants about fellow Muslims who are
sexually attracted to infidels, the number of homosexuals in Morocco,
witchcraft and genies.
Quran to you, because sihr [witchcraft] is real, the jinn [genies] is real,
magic is real,” she says in one clip.
also invites people to reach out to her on encrypted messaging apps such as
I have to say is that — the sisters I know I didn’t get in contact with — if
you have Viber or messenger y’all can message me on that and we can talk on the
phone like that,” she said in one video.
say Ceasar used phony accounts to spread propaganda and also vetted and
avouched for potential recruits.
played two main roles, which I would characterize as a disseminator and a
connector,” Vidino testified Monday. “She connects [others] with people who are
was re-arrested and pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in March,
defense said she was raped as a child, dropped out of school in the 11th grade
and suffers from PTSD.
hearing is scheduled to continue Tuesday.
Muslim member of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) who refused to remove her
headscarf, is expected to face a disciplinary hearing on August 7, her lawyer
that disciplinary hearing, she will be allowed to bring legal counsel,"
Nazeema Mohamed told News24.
said the major appeared before a military court on Tuesday morning and that the
matter was postponed.
major has been a member of the armed forces for the past 10 years and works as
a clinical forensic pathologist at 2 Military Hospital in Wynberg.
previously reported that Mohamed said the SANDF's action was
"islamophobic, sexist and showed a poor attitude towards women".
to Mohamed, it (the headscarf) did not obstruct any insignia or military
rankings and for the past decade, none of the officers she reported to took
exception to it.
the SANDF proceed with charges against the major, they would take the matter to
court as the action against her was discriminatory, Mohamed said.
major, Simo Mbete, based in Port Elizabeth, told News24 on Tuesday that he was
told to take off his taqiyah (skull cap) during a morning roll call in October
last year. He said he has never had any problems in the past, having converted
to the Muslim faith in 2016.
refusing to take it off, his case was taken to the military court earlier this
year where he was found guilty of disobeying a lawful command.
was fined and had to spend three months in the military barracks. He said he
to reach SANDF spokesperson Mafi Mgobhozi on Tuesday were unsuccessful.
municipality of Akpınar in the Central Anatolian province of Kırşehir has
ordered the closure of an enterprise for 15 days due to “disrespect shown
group of women at a marketplace in the Akpınar district had complained of
disturbance with a shopkeeper who threw expletive-filled insults at them. The
women then filed a complaint with the Akpınar municipality.
municipality later ordered the relevant shop to be closed for a period of 15
days, with the municipality police (“zabıta” in Turkish) parking a vehicle
belonging to the fire department in front of the enterprise shop.
municipality announced the closure by placing a placard on the fire brigade
truck, reading: “This place has been closed down for 15 days due to the
disrespect it showed to women.”
former inmate of Syrian prisons run by the Bashar al-Assad regime recounted the
torture and abuse she faced during her incarceration as her scars keep horrific
an interview with Anadolu Agency, Nur Hammad -- a pseudonym to protect her
identity -- spoke for the first time about the cruelty she was forced to endure
during her nine-month imprisonment at several detention centers.
30-year old was arrested by the Assad regime soldiers in May 2018.
her arrest by regime henchmen, Hammad worked as a pharmacist in the Eastern
Ghouta suburb of Damascus -- which was under intense siege by forces loyal to
left the region to move to Idlib, though she was later forced to seek return
after her mother called her back as her younger sibling died.
prepared my stuff and left off to go to my mother [to Eastern Ghouta]. After
passing the Free Syrian Army [FSA] checkpoints I reached the Assad regime
checkpoints where they were conducting identity checks," she said.
was called out of the car, only to find out her name was on the wanted list of
the Syrian regime.
said she was brought to the Aleppo political security center after being
searched and handcuffed.
was searched by men, who touched her and disrespected her religious and
a woman who was around 50 years old came and took me in a separate room where
she removed all my clothes and searched me as well," she said.
there, Hammad was brought to the Aleppo military intelligence center, with her
hands bound behind her back.
the entire journey they [regime soldiers] cursed and insulted me, this was the
first time I was slapped for sitting upright," she said.
the intelligence center, she was put into a one-square-meter cell where she
spent two days before her first interrogation began.
couldn't even lie down as every two hours, the soldiers would come in, pour
water on me and insult me before leaving, I could also hear little children
crying, and sounds of men suffering," she said.
her second day in the cell, regime soldiers took her out for her first
tied my eyes and tied my hands behind my back and when I asked why I was
treated like this they tightened the plastic handcuffs more and started to
interrogate me," she said.
repeatedly telling them that she was innocent, this treatment continued.
said she was accused of supporting the FSA with medical supplies and of
supporting and standing with those rising up against the state.
told them that the pharmacy was open for every patient and person in need, I
didn’t know if anyone was from the opposition or the Assad regime,” she said.
said one particularly hard slap during the cruel interrogation caused her to
poured water on my face with a bucket and woke me up, during that time they
also took off my hijab," she said.
she was conscious again her hands and feet were tied as well. "I was very
person who was interrogating me asked the others for a plastic tube, I remember
him hitting me 23 times, I fainted, thinking I was going to die of pain. When I
would recover the questions would continue," she said.
soldiers in the room would take turns torturing her, ignoring her desperate
pleas for them to stop.
said that the soldiers also looked through her pictures on the phone, insulting
and threatening her with rape.
told me to decide: 'either you admit [to the accusations] or you will
die'," she said.
was then kicked several times when she fell down with no strength to move
interrogator instructed them [the other soldiers] to hold me from my hair and
drag and throw me into the cell like a 'garbage bag'," she said,
describing how her hair was painfully pulled out in the soldiers' grasp.
long as I was in the cell, they would pour water from a bucket [on me] every
two hours, there was blood on the floor, but I didn't know where the blood came
from and where I was bleeding," she said.
her cell, Hammad said she lost any sense of time passing over 32 days under
unbearable and unhygienic conditions.
even to shower during this time, sleep was fleeting for Hammad during her
imprisonment due to the cries of suffering coming from other inmates.
Inhuman, Degrading Treatment
was taken into interrogation again, and torture began anew.
tied my hands and stretched my feet, which were off the ground, like I was
tightened on a crucifix, they punched my back, my legs, everywhere with
tubes," she said.
was running out of my mouth and nose, I felt that some of my body parts were
fractured, three of my ribs were cracked, there are still the signs of their
torture on my body," she added.
torture would continue every two days for 2-3 hours. At the end of 32 days, she
was taken to the commanding officer who tried to force her to confess.
was a barrel filled with water, I understood what they were up to. After
hitting various parts of my body, they grabbed my hair and plunged my head into
the barrel, I felt like I was drowning," she said.
said she was praying to God, calling out to take her life, as she could no
longer bear the pain.
time I reached the point of drowning they pulled out my head and forced me to
confess, the interrogator called the others to give me electricity, my entire
body was wet, they would give me electric shocks," she said.
was unsure how long this continued.
felt like fainting, I couldn't bear this pain anymore, I had no longer any
strength to speak," she said.
to stand the intensified torture, she accepted all charges against her.
tortured me so much they [had to] take me to the hospital, have me treated and
take me back to the prison," she said.
her time in prison, Hammad's family sold their properties to find out where she
were forced to bribe one of the officers who partook in Hammad's torture in
order to arrange for her release.
had to accept the charges of "knowing members of opponents" to get
released. After she was brought to court she was transferred to the Adra prison
-- a facility known for its heavy torture and the rape of inmates.
said that she was not immediately released as she had many signs of torture on
her body which would be evidence and was forced to sign a document without even
Adra, there were high-ranking soldiers. They would enter the cells and take out
the beautiful girls," she said, adding that rape was common there.
seven months of incarceration in Adra Prison, Hammad was released and made her
way straight to her family and friends who were living in Damascus.
was only able to stay for three days and see my mother in secret, I felt like I
was harming my family," she said stating that she could no longer bear to
stay in an Assad regime-held area.
knew that the northern parts of Syria were safe, a friend of mine bribed one of
the Assad regime soldiers, he got me from Damascus to the North [of Syria]
without getting stuck at any checkpoint," she said.
her release, Hammad said her fiance turned his back on her. "I called my
fiance, it was a foreign number, so he picked up. When I told him it was me, he
said not to call him anymore and hung up," she said, remembering this as
one of the most painful moments after her release.
I live here [Afrin], with my friends, I can't talk to my family, I can't
practice my profession," she said.
thankful that my family reached out somehow and I could escape from torture and
prison with bribery, but there are thousands of women in prisons without
anyone, without any money," she said.
called for help for those women who continue to languish in prisons and those
who were released as she said they are "forgotten".
want people who hear my voice to help those women who remain in prisons. They
need a helping hand, just as the ones who survive prison," she said.
about her life after prison, Hammad said she wanted to continue life as strong
dream is to go to a different country as soon as possible, to forget what I was
put through and complete my education to stand on my own feet again," she
has been locked in a devastating conflict since early 2011, when the Bashar
al-Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected severity.
then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million
displaced, according to UN figures, while women and children continue to bear
the brunt of the conflict.
to the Conscience Movement, more than 13,500 women have been jailed since the
Syrian conflict began, while more than 7,000 women remain in detention, where they
are subjected to torture, rape and sexual violence.
movement is an alliance of individuals, rights groups and organizations aiming
to secure urgent action for the release of women and children in the prisons of
the Syrian regime.
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