Written By Luna Watfa
Translated to English by Diane Lockyer
Report on 8/12/21 for the hearings of the witness and plaintiff, Reham Al-Hawash.
Distinguished Court, ladies and gentlemen,
With full confidence in my lawyers who represented me during the trial, I decided to speak today in person because for me this hearing is not a routine procedure, and this day is not an ordinary day.
Today is our day, as, we, the victims, for the first time, thanks to the trial in this court, have been able to regain our force and take action against those who have deprived us of our freedom and have committed crimes against us.
I also decided to speak today – despite the difficulty of this task – because of my sense of responsibility towards all those who have been through similar experiences as painful as mine and do not have access to this court or any other form of justice.
I am speaking here today primarily out of my sense of responsibility towards those who are still held inside Assad regime’s prisons, and in all other prisons in Syria, and for those who do not know, and may never know, about our presence here today!
My participation in this trial was not an easy experience for me as I had to dig up a number of memories I had tried to bury and forget, which greatly affected my physical and mental health. At the beginning of my participation in the trial, I did not know what I could expect from it, but today I can say that this difficult experience has restored my faith in justice.
Justice is not an illusion but a necessity and it can be achieved.
This trial has brought the story of my arrest to an end. In the past, I used to tell people how I was arrested, deprived of my freedom, and my rights violated. Today, I can continue my story and say that due to the trial I participated in bringing to justice one of those who is guilty and I regained a part of my dignity that had been violated!
Like many other Syrians, I lost hope for a very long time on a personal and a public level as well. But my participation in the trial and my involvement in all its details has restored my faith in the possibility of justice and change for a more just world. Therefore, my hope restored leads me to think that what is still happening in Syria today is not the end for Syria.
I am saying this today fully aware that what I feel and say here is my individual experience, and it may seem an illusion to millions of Syrians who have lost their faith in any justice in this world. This trial may not be a great step on a public level but it is on my personal level. So I will continue to hope that we will all live a moment when we regain our ability to act and our belief in how meaningful it is.
Distinguished Court, ladies and gentlemen,
The accused claims he was helping the detainees, and I tell him today that the very fact we are here in this room in Germany, exiled from our country, is proof that neither the accused nor any of his colleagues offered us any kind of help, cooperation or sympathy!
However, if the accused asked me today, standing in front of me, what I want from the outcome of this trial, I would reply: I don’t wish you to experience the horror I experienced, and I don’t wish to see you wait for a long time without knowing what will happen to you. It was the waiting that exhausted me the most during the days of my imprisonment.
But most important of all, I don’t wish to see you tortured or die unlawfully or be detained or imprisoned in the same way you and other criminals have inflicted it on me and millions of Syrians.
However, I do hope that this trial will give you time, plenty of time, enough time to think about us, the victims and witnesses, who have appeared before you at this court – time to think about the faces, voices and dreams of all those who have passed before you during your years of service in the detention center. I wish you plenty of time to think a lot about this, because I personally believe in that case you will not be able to escape from these thoughts.
We Syrians have struggled, and we are still fighting to liberate our country from an inhuman regime, to achieve justice and restore our dignity, and we deserve success.
Justice, dignity and freedom, are the fundamental rights of all human beings! What is happening here today must not and should not be an exceptional event or an honor for anyone. It is not a generous gift from anyone. Rather, it is the humanitarian, legal and international duty of every human being, every judicial authority and of every state.
Finally, I believe the verdict this court will pronounce will certainly not bring justice for the Syrian men and women, nor will it be an alternative for finding a comprehensive and sustainable solution to the issue of detainees in Syrian prisons or to the issue of the Syrian conflict as a whole.
However, this verdict must be a call to the German government and all governments around the world to take action to rescue all those still held inside the regime’s dungeons and in its large prison called “Assad’s Syria”