Unconfirmed reports that Syrian army troops were battling each other were an indication of how divided the country is regarding dealing with political dissent. The Damascus regime’s reputation for brutality is fearsome. Joseph Hallit knows all too well what may happen to the scores of Syrians snatched in recent weeks by a regime in Damascus that polices anti-government thoughts as much as actions. The doctor was one of thousands of Lebanese political prisoners locked away in a labyrinth of Syrian jails for their opposition real or suspected to Syria’s political and military domination of its tiny neighbor, Lebanon.
Hallit completed his medical degree in Damascus and was nabbed from university just after graduating in 1992. He spent four of the eight years he was incarcerated in solitary confinement, languishing in a dark, dank windowless cell just big enough to stand up in, but not to stretch his legs. Still, he says Cell 16 was a refuge from the violent interrogations on the other side of the door. “I changed my perspective so that the opening of the door did not mean release,” he says, “the closing of it did.”
The 50-year old