On 27th March 2008, the administration of Sednaya prison carried out severe torture of prisoners, which reached the level of “combing their flesh with iron hooks”. The prisoners who suffered this torture, who were mainly from the Islamic activists, began to call out for Allah’s help from the unbearable cruelty. Their voices reached the other prisoners who became enraged at this, and they began to raise their voices in Takbeer (Allah-o-Akbar). Some of the prisoners escaped their cells, and a wide-scale rebellion took place for several days, after which the prison guards regained control and inflicted indescribable types of torture upon the prisoners.
On 5th July 2008, an armed military police unit entered the cells of Sednaya prison to carry out searches. During this [operation], they desecrated copies of the noble Qur’an, abused the beards, and attacked the prisoners with physical abuse and insults. This pressure led to an explosion, in the form of civil disobedience in all sections and floors of the prison, until the prisoners themselves took the military police and prison officers as hostages! The prisoners seized their mobile phones and used them to contact relatives, media and human rights organisations, yet they did not get the desired response, which left the regime feeling tranquil that its international – and particularly American – backing was still in place. The regime then tried to regain control of events by sending in troops to end the rebellion by force, however the prisoners were able to take around 1100 of them, including officers, as hostages. After being unable to re-establish control as planned, the state then resorted to negotiations that continued for 6 months, during which further attempts to storm the prison by force were also unsuccessful.
In the end the state was able, with false promises, to solve the problem. They promised not to punish the prisoners; to free those who sentences had ended; to treat prisoners in a humane way and to speed up the processes for those sentenced under martial law. The president’s representatives gave these promises after the prisoners refused to negotiate with the military. The representatives promised them that there would be no punishment or retribution for the events, and all blame was placed on General Nu’man Al-Khateeb and Colonel Ali Khaireebek, the prison director, as well as a number of the prison officers. As this was occurring, the families of the prisoners attempted at times to hold peaceful protests, such as gathering outside the Interior Ministry or close to the prison itself, but they were prevented with such brutality that they were not even able to speak or do anything while their sons faced such a horrific scene.
After stability returned following the agreement, the regime broke its promises and began to put those who protested on trial. Around 350 prisoners have been tried so far, with 5 of them receiving death sentences while 19 others received life imprisonment. The majority of the others received similar sentences, with the lightest sentence being 12 years. In addition to this, the prisoners are now held in metal cages, and the prison is now filled with CCTV cameras and listening devices. They are not allowed to leave their cells to see the sun or exercise, and thus their health has become extremely poor, and reports indicate that some prisoners are suffering from serious diseases. What is strange is that no media or human rights organisation is reporting the development of this tragedy though it has reached this level.
This is a sample of the destructive practices of the regime, which does not desist or repent from using the ugliest inhuman measures against its people, whether in the prisons or outside.
Indeed this regime carries on as though it will remain in power forever. It arrests, tortures and imprisons without considering that it will be held to account for what it does and taken down for it soon, insha’Allah. Does this corrupt regime think that the silent tongues are happy with its actions?! Indeed this regime acts as though nothing is happening around it, nor shall anything reach it. Indeed the rulers of Syria were able to make the regime a security state unlike any other in the region, in terms of the [level of] repression and oppression. The history of its [treatment of its] people is written in the blood of their sons, while their history with the enemy is one of peace and security for the border with “Israel”, to the extent that they build holiday resorts in the (Israeli-occupied) Golan Heights!
Indeed the Syrian regime thinks that it is safe from change, and it may be that its death lies in this thought. Indeed change, built on an Islamic standpoint, is advancing towards the regime, and since this desired change is in the hand of Allah, no-one can stop it; nor will this extinct regime be able to stand in its way or challenge it. This change is coming, insha’Allah ta’ala, and it will make Syria and the Islamic lands fulfil the glad tidings of the Messenger of Allah (sall Allahu alaihi wa sallam) regarding ash-Sham (Syrian region) and the people of ash-Sham.
Ahmed and ibn Hibban narrated from Mu’awiyah that the Messenger of Allah (sall Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “If the people of ash-Sham became corrupt, there would be no good [left] in you, a faction from my Ummah will not cease to be victorious, those who betray them will not harm them, until the establishment of the Final Hour.”
This regime acts towards you as an enemy, not a guardian, so treat it as an enemy. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has made the authority for the Muslims in Islam, so they may rule with what Allah has revealed. The ruler in Syria is the same as the rest of the rulers in the Muslims’ lands, indeed he is worse than them. He has usurped the power and prevents and fights the ruling by Islam, and he stole the authority from the Muslims when he took it by means of force and inheritance, albeit garbed in fraudulent elections, and he uses force against you through his security forces. He does not give you any regard, on the contrary, he seeks to protect himself from you by threats, intimidation, humiliation, arresting your sons, and issuing security sentences which the judges pass as if they were merely doormen.
O Muslims in Syria
Indeed among the rights of Allah upon you is that you establish Islam in your lives, by establishing the rule by what Allah has revealed and setting your lives upon the command of Allah. You would then be truly free from the oppression of the oppressors. This liberation would not mean just ending this extinct regime, or changing it for a ruler implementing a similar system on the Muslims. Rather this would only come through establishing the Khilafah Rashidah which will join the Muslims in Syria together with the Muslims outside it, so Syria could become the nucleus of this Khilafah state which will take care of the Muslims and non-Muslims with the Islamic system, which is just, humane and sound, because it is from the Lord of all the Worlds.
O brothers among the officers of the Syrian army
All of the elements of the ruling system are alien to the Islamic Ummah, and enemies to your people. They make you a tool of repression in their oppressive hand. The right of Allah upon you is that you be his Ansar, by supporting his deen. We know that there are among you sincere believers, who are burning because of this situation and desire change, who are hurt by what hurts their people, and are affected by the crimes the regime carries out against the people, and who want to get rid of it. To these we direct this saying, gather your matter together, then advance as one row, and take this ruler from power, and give the ruler to the sincere and aware people who are able to establish the rule by what Allah has revealed, and establish the Khilafah Rashidah, which they have been working for, without deviating from the command of Allah by a hair’s breadth.
Indeed we in Hizb ut-Tahrir Syria announce that we are ready to carry this responsibility and lead the Ummah correctly, such that would please the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth. We say this with sincerity as we sense the fragrant breeze of the Khilafah. The promise of the victory from Allah draws close and it may be that its departure point is Syria; if the matter is like this then only Allah knows what may happen next. It will be an honour for you not surpassed by any other.
الَّذِينَ إِن مَّكَّنَّاهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ أَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوُا الزَّكَاةَ وَأَمَرُوا بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَنَهَوْا عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَلِلَّهِ عَاقِبَةُ الْأُمُورِ
[And they are] those who, if We give them authority in the land, establish prayer and give zakah and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. And to Allah belongs the outcome of [all] matters. [Sourat ul-Hajj, verse 41]
Media Office of Hizb ut-Tahrir, Syria
11 Rabi ul-awal 1432
14 February 2011