Syrian refugee in NL: "I hung six hours per day with my wrists tied together"

Asylum seekers
Asylum seekers

Hani Al Rawi, a Syrian refugee now living in the Netherlands, spent about six months in the notorious Saydnaya prison in the Syrian capital Damascus. "I hung six hours per day with my wrists tied together", he said to broadcaster NOS about the experience.

Earlier this week Amnesty International released the results of an intensive investigation into the conditions in the prison between 2011 and 2015. The prison is known as "the slaughterhouse" among people imprisoned there. According to Amnesty International, up to 13 thousand people were killed in the prison between 2011 and 2015. The executions were often preceded with horrific tortures.

Al Rawi was imprisoned in Saydnaya in 2012 after he, a soldier at the time, expressed concerns about the civil war in Syria. According to him, people were tortured and killed on a daily basis in the prison. "They hit me in the face until I fainted. Purely to humiliate me", he said to the broadcaster. "Anyone could end up in Saydnaya at anytime. We'd whisper to each other. Because if the guards heard us, they beat us. Sometimes to death."

"I was tortured like this with a chair", Al Rawi said, showing a simulation on a computer, NOS reports. "They clamp the chair legs under your armpits and then they push your upper body back, with your arms to the back and the chair legs under your armpits, until your spine breaks. Then you're dead."

"Everyday people were taken out of the cell and taken away. We did not know where. You never heard anything from those prisoners again", Al Rawi told NOS. He hopes that president Assad will someday pay for his crimes against Syrians. "I'll be the first to accuse him and testify against him."

Al Rawi now lives in the Netherlands with his wife and newborn child.