. His plane had an emergency landing in Damascus to spend 30 years in the “defiance” prisons!
He was out of the cell after 11 years in one of the most ironic ways. The shaving in Tadmur is a monthly ritual which kills many detainees.
The detainees of the fifth yard work in handicraft for the security men to sell the products His daughter, Rahaf, is his weakness which makes him cry.
He thought his suffering from the Israeli occupation authorities is the worst he had in life; however, his journey from Palestine to Beirut taught him that landing in Damascus International Airport is the beginning of slow death journey which continued since 1982.
Walid Ayub Barakat, born in Jerusalem, and from the Arabs of 48, wanted to visit his family who flee under the Israeli aggression to Beirut. He travelled through Jordan since he had the Jordaniancitizenship, but because of the Israeli shelling on Beirut Airport during the invasion of Lebanon, his plane had an emergency landing in Damascus International Airport.The Syrian Authorities found out he had an Israeli passport- the passport which was given by force to the Arabs of 48- because there was no other authority to issue passports.
He was arrested under the charge of spying for Israel although his landing in Damascus was out of emergency.The Syrian Authorities knew that the Israelis forces the Palestinians during that period to carry an Israeli issued passport. Still, the officer who arrested Ayub transformed his case into a deal from which he got promoted.
Biting on life without teeth
Even though the torture of the Syrian Intelligence has cost him the loss of his teeth, the innocent smile did not leave his face. Walid Ayub was telling his story to the former detainee, D.S, who told “Zaman Al-Wasil” about Ayub’s story in detention. The detention started in Damascus International Airport and then he was transformed to the Military Security Branch where he stayed for a year. He denied all the charges bearing the harsh beatings and torture he was exposed to, and after that he was transformed to Tadmur Prison.
Barakat swears that when he was received in Tadmur, the beaten he was exposed to in a day in Tadmur equals the whole beaten in his year in the Military Intelligence Branch. His teeth dropped and his bones were smashed. He was left out alone in the cell to depart life, but the survival instinct won over his jailors.
D.S, the former detainee at Sydnaya Prison and who stayed for five years with Walid Ayub,reiterates that Ayub suffers from several handicaps because of the torture he was subjected to in Tadmur. For example, the flesh of his feet is corrosive because he got beaten with an electric cable. This is why, according to D.S, he cannot walk properly. Also, he suffers from hearing problems because he was beaten on his ears, and difficulty eating because all of his teeth have dropped. He cannot eat unless the food is wet or mushed. Furthermore, the fear and paranoia he lived caused him several heart diseases and high blood pressure in addition to diabetes. Hence, the medical center in Sydnaya Prison confirmed his need for treatment and convalescence. According to Barakat, the Tadmur Prison Administration considered deemed euthanasia a prescription he needs every single minute.
Ants swarm is his solace and the snake his food
The area of life narrows to fit the size of the cell in which he was thrown in. He found in the hole made by ants in one of the walls a solace, and the spider which built his home between the walls of the cell, a friend. He made the ants and the spider his friends. Ayub talks about how he used to hunt flies and feed them to his new friends, and how he used to stay up with them the nights and tell them about his condition.
One of the stories that Walid told to D.S who retold it to “Zaman Al-Wasil”, once, he sculpted a bone and turned it into a sharp tool to write on the walls using it. The jailer saw him, and severely beat him because writing is forbidden in Tadmur.
Barakat tells his painful story about the snake which has fallen on him at the cell. He got scared and ran away knocking at the door. The jailer let him out and started beating him without even asking why he was knocking. After he severely tortured him, the jailer led him back to the cell.Ayub started knocking again and they led him out and beaten him to the extent that he could not even crawl. The jailer killed the snake and told him that because he dared to knock at the door, they will deprive him food for three days and that the dead snake will be his only food during this period.
Walid would always smile every time he tells D.S how happy he was because they have put anther detainee in his cell. Bashar Saleh is a Palestinian from Jenin. Bashar was Walid’s happiness which got him back his humanity. The loneliness he experienced at the cell was about to turn him into a monster. Although his partner at the cell was in a very bad shape, his health improved after Walid took care of him and taught him the manners in the prison.
The sergeant forgot him for 11 years in the cell!
Walid got out the cell after 11 years in a very ironic way. The story according to what he told D.S, in 1990 after he spent a year with his partner in the cell, a sergeant came and asked him for how long he stayed in the cell. Walid told him of the period and the sergeant went away. In 1994, the sergeant comes back with the company of the new prison admin while they were checking the cells. The prison admin asks him how long he was there, and Walid tells him for 11 years. The prison admin was surprised and asked the sergeant why you have left him all those years in the cell. The sergeant answers: we forgot him!
Walid considers the day he got released with his partner from the cell to the prison dormitory like a wedding day regardless of alltragedies he lived at the dormitory.One example of those tragedies is the detainees fighting over food. The detainees take turns to go out from the dormitory to the door to get food. The detainee is forced to pour food with his hands from the hot pot which causes severe burns in their hands; meanwhile, they get severely beaten with a cable on their heads. Very often, the fighting over food would cost a detainee his life.
In Tadmur, Walid moved between several dormitories. At first, he was with the Muslim Brotherhood detainees. Then he moved to the fifth yard which only “spoiled” detainees enter. Spoiled meaning they do not get beaten and because it is the place where the detainee bribes the officers. The detainees at the fifth yard worked in handicrafts and the sergeants would take the products and sell them. Most of the detainees at the fifth yard were not members of the Muslim Brotherhood and this explains why Walid entered it.
Walid narrated to D.S the story of the monthly shaving appointment in Tadmur Prison. The detainees hoped for death before the appointment approaches. The prisoners would be stripped naked and would stand in a single convoy on the shape of an arch. Every detainee holds into the back of the following detainee and they all march to the prison yard.
Walid confirms many would die before they reach the barber because of the immense beaten they get while naked.
D.S tells on behalf of Ayub the description of the yard where a young man, who ran away from compulsory service, awaits with a blade in a way for punishing him. He hits the detainees in their chins with three hits with the blade and most of the time, it causes them bleeding in the veins. After that, he shaves the extra hair on his privates and the blade moves through all of the detainees. So, if you do not die from torture, you die from infectious diseases among the prisoners because of shaving.
Amnesty included him, but he did not leave Sydnaya
Life started to return to Walid and many other Tadmur detainees who rested from the daily beaten when they were transformed to Sydnaya Prison. According to D.S, Walid used to practice his hobby in stringing beads when he was first detained, but he was not able to anymore.
Visits were allowed in Sydnaya in 2005. The first visit for Walid was in 2006 after he sent for his family in Palestine. Until that date, they thought he was dead, and so his young brother got introduced to him for the first time. It was the only visit Walid got because of the difficulty for his family to enter Syria from the occupied lands.
D.S points out that Walid was married with a daughter called Rahaf. He did not get to know her at all. She was born while he was in detention. Rahaf was his weakness which made him cry whenever he remembered her.
His name was mentioned in more than one amnesty. The last one was during the last visit of the Jordanian King to Syria. He was taken with his colleague Bashar to the intelligence branch and stayed there for three months.The security forceshave withdrawn from releasing them and they were brought back to Sydnaya Prison. The reason why they kept the Jordanian and Palestinian prisoners is, according to D.S, because they wanted to exchange them in case a Syrian officer would get detained.
We must note that Walid Ayub was detained when he was 32 years old. He spent 30 years in prison without a trial, and currently he is in Adra Prison.
He used to repeat a verse from the poetry of Turfa Ibn Al-Abad saying, “The tyranny coming from the kinsmen is harsher than the fall of a sharp sword.”
Zaman Al-Wasl By Lama Shammas