I’ll admit that I was sharp in my criticism of the Assad regime. When I talked to people and on social media. A former colleague, who now lives in Germany, told Jan Ove that I could be a stubborn person who didn’t give up when I had made up my mind for something. I considered in a small degree that I expressed my opinions in an approximately dictatorship of Syria. Where freedom of expression is very limited and apply only to an elite.
To be imprisoned because I had expressed my opinions and written things that were not approved politically was a bigger load for me than I had imagined. The first four days I sat in a kind of custody. Where I was questioned and the national defense did everything they could to find an indictment against me.
To be put together with 15 others in a closed room in a basement, with little air, little food and not knowing what would happen was a terrible experience. When Jan Ove and I talked about this period there are many things I simply had forgotten. Displaced says Jan Ove. Then pops up feelings, and I started to cry when I told the whole story to Jan Ove.
The food we got in the remand prison consisted mostly of dry, old bread that we had to moisturize in the water to eat. I remember even that when I ate the food, I started to think about my mother. What they ate, did they managed to eat when I was not there? What did they think, what did they know? Every time I ate came these thoughts, and I wept openly in front of the other prisoners. I missed so much my mother’s lap, I dreamed back to the time when I was a little boy and mother consoled me when I had hit myself. It’s a relief to be able to cry, even if I was an adult man along with the other men in the same situation as me. I was not ashamed of crying, but I blamed myself for having come into this situation and all I had exposed my family for.
I was convinced that I had reached the end of my life and would die in prison. I was raised as a Christian with the belief in a Savior and that I would receive forgiveness for my sins. But it was not God who was first in my thoughts, rather on the contrary. How could a good God do this to me? I still have my doubts whether there is a proper God when I see all of the suffering that exists on Earth.
One of my captures understood how hard I had it. He was at my age and tried to give me hope. When he saw that I would not eat, but rather die as quickly as possible, he talked to me about this. He said to me that I would soon get out of prison and continue my life, I didn’t have to give up. I still remember his words when he said that if I died, all would be in vain. I would be thrown in the garbage dump as a non-person, I would be the big loser and nothing would be gained. He spoke to me about the future, that I would soon meet my mother again. He would invite me to his home and eat together with his family. We would go out on the town together. I cried when I told Jan Ove that he was my rescuer.
It was not only me who was crying and was upset. There was a lot of talk about a new Geneva Conference II on the situation in Syria. In the second part of January 2014. That is, during the time we were imprisoned. It was a hope for all that they would come forward to a peace solution during the Conference, but that hope disappeared and the war continued.
In the four days I put in custody was a nightmare for me. I did not die as I had feared. But the smell I will never forget. 15 men that didn’t get washed, the toilet in the same room, no airing. The smell I will never forget.
The man who was driving me home told me that he’d like to come home with me and look at the welcome I got of the family. I’m not normally a person who cries, but this day I cried openly and loudly in front of my siblings and parents. I had told my sister on the phone that I was sick and in addition to that, I thought I had scabies. My brother who is a nurse once arranged so that I could get treatment when I got home. My brother put syringe with antibiotics for ten days and I got a kind of oil to get rid of scabies.
It’s not often that so much tears have fallen in the home of the Maroun. I had fulfilled my dreams with even one time could be in the mother’s lap. What I didn’t know, but got to know when I was at home was how my family had experienced the days when I was gone. My siblings knew I was imprisoned, but did not know where I was. My oldest sister had tried to call me and invite me to my nephew’s birthday on the 14th of January. I had not responded to the phone, but through a cousin of mine she got to know that I was imprisoned.
A life is not always so much worth in Syria, especially not in these rebellious times. They were afraid that I was killed, or died of disease. They had done everything they could to get to know where I was and hope for contact with me, but it had been impossible. They tried to keep it a secret for my mother that I was in prison, but she had understood and was very upset and scared of me. They had agreed that they had to protect my father who had heart problems that he should not know. When he asked after me, they told that I had so much work to do that I lived for the most part on the job and stayed overnight there. Throughout the day, we received the visit of aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors and friends. It was like a big party, although I felt weak and tired. After this prison stay, my criticism of the regime and the danger that I would be summoned to the reserve forces or in direct combat actions they agreed that they had to help me to escape. I got to borrow money for the journey to Lebanon and Russia, something I still owe them. But I am so eternally grateful for what everyone did for me that time.
The strange thing is that when I talked to Jan Ove about this article, a friend of mine called to tell how it went in Damascus. He could tell that several members of the national defense were jailed accused of corruption and theft. A group of the national defense could be followers of Bashar, while others were supporters of others in his family. I think many people will call this a widespread mafia business.
My friend could also tell that they still spoke about me in the business. He has a brother who works there and had heard my colleagues talked about me as a good person, one that was not corrupt or discriminatory above some of the staff. That I had been a good leader.
It has been a relief for me to be able to write this article. It will say that I tell and Jan Ove writes. I’ve cried a lot and I have seen that Jan Ove got tears in his eyes as he listened to me and wrote. Maybe this has been an important therapy for me to work on the bad things from the war I was in the middle of and ran away from.
The next article will be about the first time in Norway. But in the meantime, I also work with my videos, pictures and animations. These I put out as they are finished.