Hadil Kouki writes: In 2011, I was one of a group that dreamed about living under the shadow of freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately, a dream does not always come true. Mine turned into a nightmare, as I spent 40 days in prison because of a dream.
I was 19 years of age, a law student at the University of Aleppo. In early March 2011, before anyone had marched against the dictator in Syria, I was sneaking with my friends from one venue to another distributing flyers that called on Syrians to march in the street for their freedom. As a result, my freedom was taken a few hours after that. I was tortured and placed in solitary confinement. I had no access to a lawyer and denied the right of visitation. My family was almost mourning me until a Syrian Secret Service patrol forced me out of my cell to direct them to my apartment in Aleppo. There I made sure to be seen by a man who knew my family, who later told them that he saw me with the “Visitors of the Night,” as we call them in Syria.
In prison I was denied all of my basic needs. I was denied any products for hygiene, and the cell was rotten and full of rodents. I said to myself, “How foolish you are; freedom, liberty, and pursuit of happiness? Are you getting all of that in this cell now?” Yes, this is Syria. [Continue reading…]