Filiz Gazi/ DUVAR

The Syrian Association for Citizens’ Dignity (SACD) has republished a report describing the violence experienced by Syrians forced to return to regions of the country under the control of the regime of President Bashar al Assad. 

The report, entitled “Vengeance, Repression and Fear: Reality behind Assad’s promises to displaced Syrians contains information obtained from 165 Syrians living in Homs, the rural areas of Damascus, Dara’a and Aleppo. 

52 percent of the respondents in the report were those who returned to regime-held areas while the remaining 48 percent were those who never left in the first place. 65 percent said that they do not feel safe, while close to 70 percent they faced the fear that they themselves or a member of their family would be forcibly conscripted to serve in the military.

People interviewed in the report said that they had to pay bribes to ensure some of their most basic needs:

“I am a retired employee; they cut my salary for a long time and returned it after I paid bribes to prove my salary,” said 62-year-old Fawzi, from the city of Homs. 

“Abu Mahmoud, a 53-year-old man from Eastern Ghouta said had never been joining either side of the conflict. He consequently believed the regime’s alleged assurances that through general pardon that they would not harm anyone who was not involved in hostile military activities. An unknown security force arrested his son in January 2019. His fate is unknown,” said the report. 

“There is no security, there are arrests for financial extortion and for reserve or compulsory military service, there are no jobs, there is no freedom of movement, but there is humiliation and repression,” said Saeed, a 41-year-old man from Dara’a. 

“The situation is bad, services are not good, hospitals are unclean and unsafe, corruption is pervasive and we do not get our rights,” said 52-year-old Abu Ragheb from Eastern Ghouta. 

“The security checkpoints blackmail the people, and they prevent the entry of goods without making payment of mandatory dirty money; not to mention the harassment of women without any deterrent,” said Hatun, a 50-year-old woman from Ghouta.