February 2017



Early on February a report compiled by Amnesty International was released stating that between 2011 and 2015  mass executions were systematically carried out in the prison of Saydnaya in the countryside of Damascus. The report highlights a practice of arbitrary and summary mass executions based on confessions extracted by torture. Syrian government denies any wrongdoing and rejects the accusation, rather speaking of a conspiracy. In the first months of the revolution, following an amnesty, these prisons were emptied releasing previous prisoners (mainly for religious crimes and including many extremists), while  political opponents went to fill them.
A tale of torture and abuse in prison is the one of Abbas, a 40-year-old Syrian engineer, who was arrested for taking part in public demonstrations, one of the few who have survived and wanted to witness such violence. Shady Hamadi, an Italian-Syrian writer, tells his history in an article published on the Italian “Il fatto quotidiano”. Mazen and Shady are right now in Italy to accompany the photo exhibition “Codename: Caesar. Syrian detainees – victims of torture“, a collection of images taken in the regime’s prisons by a former officer.

In Syria, meanwhile, the war has not yet reached a truce, as the bombing campaign is continuing on Damascus, Homs, Idlib and Aleppo province.


February was a difficult month, marked by the difficulties that the Syrians have to face in order to receive the medical care they February 2017 report Syria-Lebanonneed. With the help of other organizations, two doctors came to the camp to make generic visits and many people were referred to hospitals in the city for urgent specialist visits that in some cases has been postponed since they had left Syria.
AF, for instance, a 40 year old man who lives in the camp, has throat cancer that should constantly been monitored, but the CAT is very expensive and he managed to make it only this month after four years. AA needed lifesaving hearth surgery but no idea how to pay for it.
Volunteers were close to them in several ways: by accompanying them in their trips to the hospital or staying in tents alongside the wives remained at the camp waiting for good news, or trying to be mediator with doctors and offices. In this inefficient and unfair system such activities have proved crucial to get the care. Their presence on the bus along with Q, a 24 years old Syrian youth, who was traveling to the hospital for a shoulder X-ray, was likely to avoid an arrest at a check-point control.
The calls made by volunteers to UN and hospital meant that AA received the money for the heart operation that initially had been denied. The Syrians in Lebanon are subject to regulation which has more the form of simple negation.

February 2017 report Syria-LebanonAyyed, an 18 year-old youth, suffering from a severe thalassemia died at home, a week ago, after being rejected by three different hospitals that did not consider his case serious enough to be free of payments.
Yet rare and valuable acts of solidarity stand out: the doctor who operated on AA kept in contact with volunteers, helped in funding research, was active to find a solution. It is only thanks to his  signature as a guarantor for the payment transaction that AA was saved.
After all, here comes the spring too: days are longer, the sun lights the camp and warm the water, coffee is drunk outdoor in company; children look for volunteers to go and play at the park. Two good news came as well: AF cancer seems to regress and the AA heart is doing better.
Meanwhile, work continues on possible solutions to the life in the camps in Lebanon. On one side the welcome in Italy, for those who will have the opportunity to travel with humanitarian channels.
On the other the continuing work of the Syrians here in Lebanon who meet regularly to strengthen their proposal for peace in Syria. A call to the International community that Operazione Colomba want to help to be heard.
In the last week we heard of several cases of arrests: the grandson of our neighbor, a 16 years old boy, was arrested while going to buy diesel fuel for the stove and a man who lives in a nearby garage was arrested a few days later. Both were released after less than a week, both said that someone paid for their release, but it is unclear or who or how.
Another acquaintance of ours, a youth, has been in jail for ten days, arrested while going to work and so forced to leave his wife at home alone, pregnant and about to give birth.
The military controls have increased also along roads: a guy living in the camp, one of the few with a work, is no longer able to go to work because access to the cities became too risky.