Exiled Syrian artist, Najah al-Bukai, highlighted through drawing the unspeakable suffering and torture thousands of his countrymen are enduring in the prisons of the Assad regime. He said that he felt like it is his duty to continue the revolution through art.
One of his black-and-white drawings shows a group of half-naked men being beaten up. Another depicts a man bent double, lying on his back with his feet over his head, tied up between two heavy wooden boards.
“We were around 190 to 220 persons in this room which was 16 meters long and 3 meters wide. This is where the questioning sessions took place, where the torturers were using different techniques,” said Bukai, who now lives in France.
“But the worst was unloading corpses. Once we had to unload three corpses while another (day) we could have to unload 13. They were prisoners who died under torture during questioning or of diseases because of deplorable hygienic conditions.”
“I feel like it is my duty to continue the revolution,” Bukai said. “If I stop drawing on this topic, it means I have given up and I have said to (Syrian President) Bashar al-Assad: ‘Yes, you won your war against us.’”
In mid-August, French newspaper Liberation published drawings by Bukai to illustrate the horrors taking place inside the prisons of the Assad regime.
In an article the French newspaper published under the title “bureaucracy of death,” Bukai recounts through his sketches the barbarism of the Assad regime against detainees. Tens of thousands of detainees died under torture in the prisons of the Assad regime. His drawings illustrated the reality inside Assad’s prisons as well as the systematic methods of torture carried out by Assad’s intelligence services against detainees.
Reports by human rights groups indicated that detainees inside Assad’s prisons “were subjected to brutal torture and inhumane treatment of a purely sectarian nature.” The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said that it had compiled a list of the names of 118,000 people who were detained in Syria, 88 percent of whom were held in the Assad regime’s detention facilities. Other human rights groups said that the figure could be much higher, especially as tens of thousands of people were forcibly disappeared.
Born in Homs in 1970, Bukai said he was first imprisoned for 11 months in 2011, in camp number 227 near the Syrian capital Damascus. He was arrested after he helped organize a protest against Assad.
In 2014, he was arrested again at the Syrian-Lebanese border as he tried to leave the country after two years of hiding at his in-laws’ house. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)