For more than 11 years, Syrians have been caught in the crossfire of a civil war. This conflict is characterised by a high death toll, mass displacement, arbitrary detention, and forced disappearances. Less discussed and acknowledged, but no less characteristic of this drawn-out war, is the systematic and widespread use of sexual violence. Committed by both the Syrian regime and other parties to the conflict, conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) is exercised indiscriminately against women, men, and children since the conflict’s onset, but it is especially used as a humiliation tactic in detention settings.
We have partnered with the Association of Detainees and Missing of Sednaya Prison (ADMSP), a survivor-led organisation founded in southern Türkiye by former detainees at the notorious Sednaya prison in Syria. We are also partnering with the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT), an organisation with a family centre in the Gaziantep ADMSP facility providing psychosocial support and physiotherapy. The project has survivor participants in Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Mersin, and Hatay.
Interim reparative measures being co-created with survivors
In consultation with their communities, survivors have defined individual interim reparative measures to respond to their needs and acknowledge the harms perpetrated against them. Through the project, each survivor is co-creating their own individual interim reparative measure package, that can include:
Compensation for a livelihood project or financing for education at a formal institution;
Medical, psychosocial, and psychological care;
Survivors will define collective interim reparative measures. In addition to receiving individual measures, ADMSP and GSF will also support survivors through advocacy to obtain recognition of the harms suffered and reparation for survivors through the set-up of an international fund supported by the international community.
“We got arrested on the road. It was like in a movie, my wife had grabbed our two children, we were so scared. We were sent to a first place of detention all together, then I was separated from my wife and children. I stayed seven months in 227 prison. I was transferred again, over several months, including to Sednaya prison. All this time, I knew nothing about my family. I was released in 2015.
We decided to flee to Gaziantep. Now my wife and I are part of the interim reparative measures project.
I am so grateful for the project, because as a former detainee and survivor it is the first time I have been asked about my needs. My wife and I are thinking of starting a small project so we could be autonomous, like owning cows and sheep. Now I feel optimistic that I can work again and take care of my children by myself.”
“For me working with ADMSP is important, because understanding and exposing the hierarchy of killing in places of detention is the first step in making the Syrian regime accountable for its actions. The most challenging things for me is, I am out of the prison, but actually I am in the prison.
Every day, every minute I work on the same things where I was. I was in Sednaya prison, and I work on reports on Sednaya prison. I hear a lot of ex-detainees and defectors experience, then I will work on mass graves, so I am always in the same atmosphere.
But I stay because there is a big cause behind this work. I am proud because survivors can lead the way, have their own voice to talk about their experience. I am also proud of the commitment to those inside the prison.”
“When I was released from detention in 2014, I promised myself I would use my knowledge of psychological support to help other detainees.
I’ve been with ADMSP for 7 months now and I am very happy. It’s the only place I found that is doing real work for ex-detainees. I know a lot of other organisations working for survivors, but they just document cases.
What I am the proudest of is that I am working with survivors of detention, which is what I’ve been searching for."