The Assad regime surprised young Syrian men when it implemented, without prior warning, a decision to prevent them from leaving the country without obtaining a “travel permit” from the conscription department. This has increased burdens and costs and made them line up in their hundreds under the burning sun to get the permit.
The decision exempted no one. Even only-children, who are not wanted for military service, need to obtain the paper.
Immediately after the implementation, the conscription center in Damascus was swarmed with young men who saw the decision as another constraint on them in the “huge prison” in which they live, as they described it.
The decision has resulted in soldiers at the conscription center making big profits from the bribes paid by young men to get their permits. The pro-regime Lebanese al-Akhbar newspaper said on Tuesday that the young men suffered from chaos, narrow halls and the proliferation of bribery.
It is known in regime institutions that most employees take money from citizens in exchange for easing the process of any procedure. With the implementation of the travel permit decision, young men are forced to pay money as bribes to speed the process and avoid the long waits.
The surprise decision prevented Syrian families from traveling when they went to the border with Lebanon, and individuals between 17 and 42 were turned back for not having the permit.
The Lebanese newspaper said that many Syrians lost their prepaid travel cards, saying that the Migration and Passports building on the border was filled with women and the elderly and not men between 17 and 42.
Additionally, as one of the conditions of obtaining the permit, the regime has imposed a one time fee of 50,000 Syrian pounds as a “financial guarantee.” That is, a family with five people who want to get travel permits need to pay a quarter of a million pounds, in addition to other fees to get to the border and get travel cards.
On Sunday, the regime prevented the artist Samer Ismail from leaving the country because of his lack of a travel permit from the conscription center.
The Assad regime has made service in the army a conditions for male Syrians applying to government ministries for jobs.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.