NOW Lebanon was able to get in touch with a prisoner, who identified himself as “Abu Ibrahim,” on his cellphone at the Aleppo prison. He recounts the experience of Monday’s disobedience:
“The prisoners have been feeling very pressured. After [the Ramadan evening] prayers, inmates gathered in the wings and became enraged… and [started] chanting [in support of the Syrian uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad]. There are six wings [in the Aleppo prison] which is structured in a hexagonal manner. The inmates managed to break the main gates of each of them. They gathered in the middle of the prison and began a protest.
The security guards were flustered and did not know what to do, so they began [shooting] tear gas and [live rounds]. Between 13 and 20 people were killed, two of whom were killed in front of me. However, it was later evident that there was a sniper, and prisoners began to return to their wings. At least 15 wounded were in my wing. There was no actual fighting between the inmates and security guards.
People from inside the prison contacted members of the [rebel] Free Syrian Army to try and get some help. The FSA fighters responded to the phone call and surrounded the prison. The FSA fought with the army around the prison and called the general of the prison warning him to stop [the violence].
Now, there a lot of the prisoners are being interrogated. The authorities are taking some inmates and transferring them to other prisons located in Deir az-Zour and Hasakeh to be far from their relatives. Others were taken to unknown locations. They are starting to punish the inmates. It was announced that there will be no family visits for the next sixs month. There is no electricity, no water and minimal cellphone coverage. However, there is hope.
The prisoners feel that there is hope and that the FSA will free us. We call for protection from the media as well as the FSA because we are, at this point, scared the authorities will want to take revenge on us. In the prison, there are 300 soldiers, 200 police officers as well as other security figures.
A lot of the men here are from Saidnaya Prison [in which a riot broke out in 2008 and at least 20 people were killed] and are scared because they have already experienced horrors. I was in jail in Saidnaya for three years and have been here for one.
Those who were injured were taken by other prisoners to my wing, in which inmates established an infirmary because they had some first aid material.
The prisoners are now suggesting that next week we protest and call for the freedom of prisoners in Syria, especially those in Aleppo.”