“In Sednaya Prison Was the Last Meeting”

Account of the Disappeared Shehada Haj Hussein by the Military Security in Latakia

The disappeared Shehada Hasan Haj Hussein, born in 1983, from al-Hambushiyah in Latakia countryside. He used to work in the construction field and held a preparatory certificate. With the beginning of 2011, he married and moved to live in Latakia where he worked, and he had no children.

On 9 October 2011, armed elements of the Military Security Branch stormed Shehada’s house in Latakia, as reported by his neighbors to his father, Mohammed Haj Hussein, who testified[1] to Syrians for Truth and Justice/STJ and said that Shehada was detained at the Military Security Headquarter in Latakia for about one month, and during this time his family managed to communicate with some of the branch elements and gave them a lot of gifts, which worth about two hundred thousand Syrian pounds equivalent to $4000 at the time. Shehada’s parents learned that their son was charged with possessing unlicensed weapons in order to use them against the Syrian government, knowing that he used to work in construction and had only construction tools.

The parents were not allowed to see their son and later some elements told them that Shehada would be transferred to the Supreme State Security Court in Damascus.[2] Meanwhile, Shehada’s parents tried to bribe a relative of the Head of the Military Security Branch in Latakia in order to release their son before being transferred to Damascus but it was in vain.

  • Meeting the Son for the Last Time…

A year after Shehada’s arrest, the parents learned of his presence at Sednaya Military Prison and managed to visit him on 15 October 2012. Shehada’s father described the details of their visit to their son Shehada in Sednaya prison, saying:

“My wife and I managed to secure a visit to see our son; during the visit there was two barriers of iron network between us besides two elements from the prison stood beside us. The biggest shock was when we saw him, his clothes were torn and his body was too weak to stand because he had lost a lot of weight. On his face, there was black spots like burns, and his voice trembled as he spoke to us. It was a general talk about health and situation; Shehada only answered by saying (thank God). We were not allowed to ask about anything with regard to his health status, prison period, investigation details or anything else, this was the last time we saw Shehada, we tried to visit him again, but the elements in Sednaya Prison told us that there was no prisoner with that name and told us not to ask about him again. Moreover, we were unable to obtain a document proving his presence in the prison or stating his death.”

Shehada’s arrest was a severe blow to his parents and family, especially his mother, who was subjected to a nervous breakdown and chronic depression. Shehada’s wife moved to live with her parents and three years later, she lost hope for her husband’s return, so she asked for divorce in the court, the judge considered Shehada to be an absentee whom there is no hope for his return, and later she got married to another man.

Shehada’s disappearance caused a great financial hardship to his parents because they paid a lot of money in order to know his fate. In addition, Shehada’s family faced many legal problems, as they tried to sell the house of their son, which is his only property but could not complete the sale process because of the absence of Shehada’s personal documents that would have allowed them to sell it.

Moreover, they could not extract any new document allowing them to sell the house and its contents. A while after, some elements of the military security detachment of the Military Security Branch in Lattakia confiscated the house and took out the door of the apartment by force of arms without any court order, and a family of an element was settled in the house. According to Shehada’s family, such process became too frequent and cannot be prevented or stopped, once a complaint lodged against them, this will expose the complainant to the risk of arrest or liquidation.

[1] The interview was conducted on 13 July 2017, in a personal interview for the family of the disappeared in their house.

[2] The coup authorities emanating from the 8 March 1963 coup, followed the  imposition of State of Emergency in Syria by forming what was then called” the Supreme State Security Court” which was formed based on a decision of Regional Command of Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party dated on 25 February 1966 and the decision of the Council of Ministers of 20 March 1963  and then the Legislative Decree No. (47) on 28 March 1968, which abolished the exceptional military courts and at the same time ordered the establishment of the Supreme State Security Court. The decree affirmed in its sixth article that the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court includes all persons whether civilian or military whatever their status or immunity, and suspend all due process stipulated in the legislation in force in all the roles and procedures of prosecution, investigation and trial.

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