Great Disappointment: How Families of Detainees Spent the Night Under the Bridge in Damascus

Syria TV camera monitored the gathering of thousands of Syrians under the President's Bridge in the center of Damascus.

Syria TV camera monitored the gathering of thousands of Syrians under the President’s Bridge in the center of Damascus, until late Tuesday evening. They were waiting for the arrival of batches of detainees to identify them, or to inquire about their newly released relatives. This came amid the resentment and disappointment of the people that no one has been released. 

A Syria TV camera documented thousands of people and families gathering waiting for the arrival of the regime’s security branch buses carrying released detainees after fake lists of detainees’ names and release dates were spread. 

Read Also: Human Rights Activists Monitor Release of Detainees from Assad Prisons

Informed sources told the Syria TV website that the Syrian regime deliberately created this chaos, and did not issue lists of names of detainees released by the Ministry of Justice. This maneuver is to allow brokers close to the officers and influential people in the security branches, to exploit the families’ concern over their detained children, and requested huge sums of money to put them on the lists of releases.  

The sources added that brokers claim to be able to add names to the amnesty list and speed up their release procedures. 

The families of the detainees believe that the brokers are trying to gain money and defraud them under the pretext of amnesty, as all the families with whom the brokers contacted refused to pay any amount, and they are still waiting for their children to be released from the prisons of the Syrian regime 

Ministry of Interior comments on scenes of the gathering of detainees’ relatives 

The Ministry of Interior of the Syrian regime’s government called on those waiting under the President’s Bridge, hoping for their relatives to be released, not to assemble there. The ministry stressed that it had not allocated a place for the families of the released detainees under Decree No. 7, which was issued recently. 

Al-Watan newspaper, which is close to the Syrian regime, quoted a ministry source as claiming that many of those released had left their detention facilities independently — by taxi or other means. 

Last Saturday, the regime’s president, Bashar al-Assad, issued Decree No. 7. The decree granted “a general amnesty for terrorist crimes committed by Syrians before April 30, 2022, except for those that led to a person’s death, provided for in the Anti-Terrorism Act No. 19 of 2012 and the Penal Code of Legislative Decree No. 148 of 1949 and its amendments.” 

Fake lists 

The Ministry of Interior in the regime’s government confirmed that everything published on some pages about gathering dates and areas is baseless, according to the Al-Watan newspaper, which is close to the regime. 

Over the past two days, newsgroups and local pages have circulated leaked lists of released detainees, news of the release of detainees in more than one area, and published photographs and videos of detainees who have reached their families and relatives who have reported the release of their children. 

Pro-regime journalist Mohammed Suleiman posted a video from the gathering place of detainees’ families under the President’s Bridge in Damascus, in which he called on the Syrians not to believe what was rumoured on social media about the lists of the names of the released detainees. 

Suleiman said that all lists of names are incorrect, noting that there is no specific date for busses to leave prisons and security branches to release detainees. 

No detainees have been released

On Tuesday, the families of the detainees were deeply disappointed after waiting for long hours in the President’s Bridge area of Damascus. The regime did not release any detainees after the regime members promoted rumours indicating the release of a large number of detainees during the past hours and their transfer to central Damascus. 

Suleiman said: “The movement returned to almost normal under the President’s Bridge after dozens of broken families returned to their homes. Mothers returned to the fictitious graves of their children and fathers with tears that were not stopped by the might of men. Disappointment, fracture, loss, pain, and revival of memories, all of this I saw with my eyes and I kept in my heart. I recorded it and wrote it down to add to the repeated disappointments of these countries.” 

He added: “I am now on my way home to apologize to the helpless, I am sorry, my people. I apologize to you on behalf of the whole world, in the hope that tomorrow will bring you the news that rejoices in your hearts.” 

Big disappointment

“Everyone here shares the feeling with me, we’re all waiting for a little news, can we see our children or go home?” says one of the waiting women in the President’s Bridge area to the pro-regime Sham FM radio, after news of the regime’s release of detainees broke. 

“Three of my children are detained and since the amnesty was issued, I have gone to all the areas where the detainees were expected to be transferred,” another woman said. She added that since then, people have not returned to their homes and are on the streets waiting for any news about their relatives, even though the majority of them are over the age of 50.

“Two of my children have been in detention for 10 years, we don’t know anything about them, and since the amnesty was issued, I came to the President’s Bridge, then I went to Sednaya. I did not skip any area, I want to hear about my children,” says a third woman. 

“How long are we going to wait in the streets?” asked one woman. “How long will we stay like this, waiting for the detainees to leave while we are on the streets.”

 

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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