IF I WERE YOU
SECOND PART Together to support freedom and respect to human rights of Syrian people
This book has been designed and cured by Elena Manfredi. It is of propriety of the designers and of the authors of the stories. Images are taken from the website Stock Exchange and used in this book considering the images licence agreement. First printed in London College of Communication in May 2012. Typeset in Din Bold, Din Regular and Bell Semi bold of different point sizes. Paper Fabriano Bioprima 85 gsm
WHAT IS GOING ON IN SYRIA Syrian uprising is an ongoing conflict part of the wave of the upheaval throughout the Arab World. It started in January 2011 as a form of protest to ask the resignation of the President Bashar al-Assad, his under-ruling Baâ€™ath party and the end of the dictatorship run by his family since 1970. Since then hundreds of killings and arrests have taken place, through bombing indiscriminately and killing men, women and children. Until now have been reported the death of more than 9000 people, mostly civilians and at least 14,000 others detained (UN data). Syrian security forces have been committing crimes against humanity, including killings, torture, rape, imprisonment, and other forms of severe deprivation of liberty and disappearances. The action of the International community has been slow and still not resolving.
WHAT IS THIS PROJECT
"If I were you" is an experiment that empowered a mass of geographically separated people to collaborate in supporting individuals who are experiencing the worst time of their lives in this exact moment in which you are reading this.
I gathered sentences from people all over the world to whom I sent different stories (18 in total with different titles to differentiate them) of torture described in a report published by Amnesty International titled “I wanted to die”. Each of the people were asked to read one of these stories and imagine to be the person that lived the torture in that exact moment and to write one sentence in first person. I linked the received sentences regarding the same kind of torture and created a short story with them. The creation of a single story is the result of the collaborative work of a group of people who don't know each other. To amplify the involvement of participants in these torture, they have been asked also to describe what kind of coulours, images and shapes they imagined while they were reading the stories of the 19 people. These answers are gathered in the appendix. 80 people from 11 different countries and 16 different cities took part in this project to create an awareness campaign to support Syrian people in their fight for freedom. I would like to thank everyone for their involvement in this project; without them it would not have been possible.
The eighteen pieces of narrative which are on the left side of the book come from some of the Syrian detainees tortured between February 2011 and March 2012 interviewed by Amnesty International in Jordan. You can read and download for free the whole report on Amnesty International's Website under the name of “I wanted to die” published in March 2012. 1
BISAT AL RIH (FLYING CARPET)
BEING HELD IN A PROLONGED SOLITARY CONFINEMENT STRESS POSITION ABUSE
EXPOSURE TO EXCESSIVE COLD
HARSH PRISON CONDITION
BEATINGS FOR THE VICTIM’S RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND OTHER INSULTS
DENIAL OF MEDICAL TREATMENT
“I am wondering how anyone can do this to another human being …”
“The fear will make me feel powerless, forgetting the value of life …”
“My back was so painful it didn’t feel like it belonged to me anymore …”
“I feel powerless, it’s painful, I am afraid to die even if it probably would be better at this point …”
“My wrists are tearing apart from my arms, must resist, I must! …”
“Acrid smoke among devils with mocking and terrible smiles which trample on rotten corpses and rapacious birds which like hungry hyenas circle over a sullen and gloomy sky...”
“I was under control by men like me, but their physiognomy was vague and the shadows that were dogging me were the nightmares of a life which were becoming real …”
“Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! I want to stop this suffering …”
“The pain is driving me insane …”
“Ghazi” 22 -Dera'a, Syria / Decorator
“I also suffered bisat al-rih. I was on a wooden board like a table, face up, in underpants and blindfolded. I don’t how the ends are raised but some mechanism makes it go up. I suffered terrible pain on my lower back as the body is forced into a V-shape. And I was beaten at the same time. Three men took it in turns with the kurbaj (whip). When they rested they drink tea, smoke a cigarette until it’s their turn again. It lasts about one hour.”
BISAT AL-RIH (FLYING CARPET)
“I am wondering how anyone can do this to another human being … I wish I passed out or die anything that stops this pain! Why is this happening to me? How is it possible that certain human beings similar to me are able to do all of this? Where do they find their conviction of being right? Why? Lord let everything finish … I am terrified. I would like to die right now, without suffering for the horrible tortures that they will do to me. I want to die, I want to die, I want to die now, now, now …”
Scott Scanlan 29 - London, United Kingdom / Graphic Designer — Anne-Kathrin Gerlieb 26 Jena , Germany / Student — Guillermo Torres 31 - London, United Kingdom / Graphic Designer — Camillo Pasquarelli 24 - Rome , Italy / Student — Paolo Viarengo , 48 - Asti, Rome / Artesan — Mario Padula 54 - Rome, Italy / Employes of a broadcasting station Mediaset
Scott Scanlan 29 - London, United Kingdom / Graphic Designer
Camillo Pasquarelli 24 - Rome , Italy / Student
There is a dark room, and I`am on a table and I can see my own blood running down.
Anne-Kathrin Gerlieb 26 - Jena , Germany / Student
“Al-Shami” 40 - Damascus, Syria / civil engineer & opposition activist
“They led me away to a solitary cell, one of 30 there. It was 2m by 2m, with high ceiling. ‘Your name is 23’, they said, as I was in room number 23. Over time, I came to hate this place. I thought of climbing up the walls and diving down to kill myself.”
SOLITARY CONFINEMENT FOR LONG PERIODS
“The fear will make me feel powerless,
forgetting the value of life … I just hope they will leave me alone … I would like to fall asleep and wake up when everything is over … if it will ever end.”
Elena Lepri 23 - London, United Kingdom / Student — Ingmar 31 - London, United Kingdom / Student — Julia Tola 23 - Rome, Italy / Student
The personification of fear. Elena Lepri 23 - London, United Kingdom / Student
Ingmar 31 - London, United Kingdom / Student
Black. Julia Tola 23 - Rome, Italy / Student
“Musleh” 29 - Deir al-Bakht, Syria / Arabic language teacher
“I did not know that even inside our cramped cell we had to sit back straight and legs crossed without leaning on the wall, so after my interrogation session I leaned my legs on the wall to relieve the pain as they were swollen. When they saw me they forced me to stand for 10 hours."
STRESS POSITION ABUSE
“My back was so painful it didn’t feel like it belonged to me anymore. Like a heavy block of cold stone attached to my neck. Agony … everything was dark and painful, and I couldn’t find any excuse for all that suffering in people’s eyes … Tired and worried I still can’t believe that this is happening to me … I feel nothing & everything.”
Karoline K. 22 - London, United Kingdom / Student — Matilde della Porta 21 - Rome, Italy / Student — Wojtek Swiatoniowski 30 - London, United Kingdom / Graphic designer — Chelsea Liggatt 23 - Orlando, US / Being Human
Wojtek Swiatoniowski 30 - London, United Kingdom / Graphic designer
Some naked and silent people in a dark and dampish cell.
Matilde della Porta 21 - Rome, Italy / Student
“Musleh” 29 - Deir al-Bakht, Syria / Arabic language teacher
“I was hung from my wrists for three days. I was wearing only my underwear and was splashed with hot and cold water while a big fan usually used in the desert was blown in my direction…”
EXPOSURE TO EXCESSIVE COLD
“I feel powerless, it’s painful, I am afraid to
die even if it probably would be better at this point … tsk … fucking monkeys. I am terrified. I don’t know if I would survive this. The only thing I feel is an incredible pain. I feel so lost and alone … I hope to die fast and without giving satisfaction to these sadistic bastards … I am here, but I cannot resist anymore, I would like to die.”
Marianna Rossi 23 - Rome, Italy / Student — No name, 31 - London, United Kingdom / Student — Cristina Bria, 26 - London, United Kingdom , Graphic designer — Federico 24 - Rome, Italy / Lutist & musician — Maria Teresa Santoro - Rome, Italy / Coordinator nurse
Broken bones, cracking skin, endless black holes and a frozen lake.
Cristina Bria, 26 - London, United Kingdom , Graphic designer
NO SHAPES No name, 31 - London, United Kingdom / Student
“Tareq" 27 - Tartus \ businessman & activist
“I was left hanging over two or three days, for many hours at a time, sometimes from my raised wrists tied above my head. My mind and body were exhausted… If I asked what the time or date was, they beat me.”
“My wrists are tearing apart from my arms, must resist, I must! What do they want from me … Concentrate and think good things … I feel empty, immobile and useless. I Seem to look at myself from the outside, as if I was a person I cannot do anything for and indeed I cannot do anything. All I can do is wait, and hope for an end, any kind of end. I was looking at them as if each of them owed me something, as if each of them needed to ask me about what they did not know … My life was frozen, I was on the edge of death … Please let me out, or kill me.”
Miguel Veiga 33 - Guarda, Portugal / Vegetarian & Vegan Chef — Cecilia Confort 25 - Rome, Italy / Financial consultant — Stefano Zaborra 27 - London, United Kingdom / Freelance — Kristina Popila 23 - London, United Kingdom / Student — Przemysław Szymczonek 34 Warsaw, Poland / Barman
Cecilia Confort 25 - Rome, Italy / Financial consultan
PrzemysĹ‚aw Szymczonek 34 - Warsaw, Poland / Barman
A skinny body with no face. Stefano Zaborra 27 - London, United Kingdom / Freelance
Abu al-Najem 40 - Dera’a, Syria / decorator
“When there was wind, we used to smell the odour of corpses which were buried in a collective graveyard just 200 metres to the north of the prison… We were served only one meal per day that consisted of one piece of bread. In every cell five people were held. The cells were full of mosquitoes and bugs.”
HARSH PRISON CONDITIONS
“Acrid smoke among devils with mocking and terrible smiles which trample on rotten corpses and rapacious birds which like hungry hyenas circle over a sullen and gloomy sky. None were looking inside the eyes of the others for fear of encountering a shattered, anguished and bleak sight that would have been the mirror of mine. I feel completely disconnected from this world. This time I will not come out alive. I am scared of dying.”
Luigi Manfredi 65 - Ortezzano, Italy / Teacher — Giulia Baldussi 22 - Rome, Italy / Student — Alenka 30- London, United Kingdom / Graphic designer — Antonio Marchesi 53 - Rome Italy / University teacher
Antonio Marchesi 53 - Rome Italy / University teacher
Strokes of lightings in a fire thunderstorm. Luigi Manfredi 65 - Ortezzano, Italy
"Jihad” 34 -Dera'a, Syria / Shop worker
“The head of the branch brought me a picture of Bashar al-Assad while I was in the torture room. ‘He is your god,’ he said. ‘There is only one god who is Allah’, I said, and ripped the picture out of his hands. For this, I was beaten for one hour with the cable, then he kicked me all the way down two flights of stairs.”
BEATINGS FOR THE VICTIM’S RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND OTHER INSULTS
“I was under control by men like me, but their physiognomy was vague and the shadows that were dogging me were the nightmares of a life which were becoming real. The cold colours of the hall were making me feel a step closer to the final departure from my friends and sons, a plastic sack would soon contain me. Fierce fear. The raw pain shook through my skin and bones until it reached my very core and quivered my dying soul. The injustice of that action and the fear that is coming from it, is making me feel a lot of pain like the strokes that I am receiving. Everything is aching, will i ever heal? Useless, sad and totally empty, my body is shaking and full of tears and screams and fear. I want to die … but then in spite of the crushing weight of fear I could still feel the smallest bit of hope inside.” Andrea Rondoni 24 - Rome, Italy / Student — Lora Bojinova 25 - London, United Kingdom / Student — Fausto Bozzano 38 - Rome, Italy / Teacher — Bob O’rourke 29 - Geneva, Switzerland / Financial analyst — Carol Breen 29 - London, United Kingdom / Graphic designer & student —Tuuli 24 London, United Kingdom / Student
BLACK SADNESS. Carol Breen 29 - London, United Kingdom / Graphic designer & student
Pitch black night and white stars shine like an explosion when I close my eyes, like thousands rays of light making everything white.
Bob Oâ€™rourke 29 - Geneva, Switzerland / Financial analyst
“Emad” 20 - al-Zabadani and Damascus, Syria / activist with the Local Coordination Committees of Syria 20
“They stripped me naked and made me stand by the wall while handcuffed. Then they splashed me with water and gave me electric shocks. They did this for four hours and repeated it for four more days even though my interrogation was finished.
“Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! I want to stop this
suffering … All I want is that they stop hurt me and to hurt me and that they leave my family in peace, even if this means they have to kill me … I don’t want to hear anything … if at least they would let me die. A deep emptiness, a void of understanding. And erring empathy. I am scared, I want to run away … what is going on … what did I do … Its not fair. How can a man arrive to do this … why? Why? All of this is not human … I will not survive.”
Sara Serafini 29 - Pesaro, Italy / Sale assistent — Susana Díaz Baamonde 25 - London, United Kingdom /Student — Graziella Nascimben 47 - Rome, Italy / Teacher — Simon Pitt 25 - London, United Kingdom / Graphic designer — Raffaella, 23 - Coimbra, Portugal / Architecture student
Susana DĂaz Baamonde 25 - London, United Kingdom /Student
Graziella Nascimben 47 - Rome, Italy / Teacher
Shivers and a slightly lighted and bare room. Raffaella, 23 - Coimbra, Portugal / Architecture student
“Mousa 26- Dera, Syria / perfume seller & activist
“My legs became infected because of all the beatings and I could not walk … I begged them for antibiotics but they gave me nothing.”
DENIAL OF MEDICAL TREATMENT
“The pain is driving me in a state of unconsciousness … it is driving me insane … that bastards they have beaten me so hard that all my body was swallowing and my leg is barely moving … the darkness is eating my hart and I can barely see. Please help me, give me some medicine or kill me, I cannot suffer anymore!”
Carolina 30 - São Paulo, Brazil / Doctor - No name 24- London, United Kingdom - Francesca Conti 54- Rome, Italy / Employee
PURP GRAY RED 63
No name 24- London, United Kingdom / Student
Carolina 30 - S達o Paulo, Brazil / Doctor
WHAT CAN YOU SEE? While you are reading the torture: What colour can you see? What image? What shape?
BISAT AL-RIH (FLYING CARPET) Scott Scanlan: Mostly black — Angry fearful faces — Sharp triangular shapes. Anne-Kathrin Gerlieb: Red — There is a dark room, and I`am on a table and I can see my own blood running down the table — The table has the form of a square. Guillermo Torres: Red — I see myself, trying to resist the pain in the middle of nothing — Squares and triangles. Camillo Pasquarelli: Yellow — Sand —Triangle. Paolo Viarengo: Green — Blue skye — Equilateral triangle. Mario Padula: Yellow — Blood — Triangle.
BEING HELD IN A PROLONGED SOLITARY CONFINEMENT Elena Lepri: Black — The personification of fear, men — Rectangles. Ingmar: Dark blue — A well — A square. Julia Tola: Black — A man with a bag on his head — Image published during Guantanamo scandal — Triangle.
STRESS POSITION ABUSE Karoline K. : Shiny blue-black — Wet and raw concrete floor — Squares with rounded corners. Matilde della Porta: Black — Some naked and silent people in a dark and dampish cell — Only the tubular bars of the cell. Wojtek Swiatoniowski: Grey — Floor — Rectangles but mostly square.
EXPOSURE TO EXCESSIVE COLD Marianna Rossi: Black — The famous picture of the hooded detainees at Abu-Gharaib. No name: Black and dark green — Faceless man crouched in a dark corner — No shapes. Cristina Bria: Dark blue — Broken bones, cracking skin, endless black holes and a frozen lake — Triangles, edgy shapes, and lines. Federico: The colour of the pale flesh due to a drop in temperature — Mussolini hanging and Bahar-al kneecapped inside an arena together with a really hungry lion — A right-angled triangle which, if brandished in the right direction, has always reminded me of a gun. Maria Teresa Santoro: Red — A gallow — A Triangle.
SHABEH Miguel Veiga: Black — My torturer at the hands of his victims — No. Cecilia Conforti: Grey — Room made of stone — Cube shades of grey. Stefano Zaborra: Dark Grey — A skinny body with no face — Probably a triangle. Kristina Popila: Grey mixed with a bit of green — Concrete walls — I see shapes that have 90 degree angles, rectangles and squares. Przemysław Szymczonek: Ruby — Maggots — Circle.
HARSH PRISON CONDITIONS Luigi Manfredi: Purple — Strokes of lightings in a fire thunderstorm — A spiral. Giulia Baldussi: Gray — The man from the story that sitting with his shoulders against the wall, lifts his head — Rectangles Alenka: Dirty green — Shivering man — No shape Antonio Marchesi: Red — Crashed glass — Regular polygon
BEATINGS FOR THE VICTIM’S RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND OTHER INSULTS Andrea Rondoni: Purple and grey — Operations room — Triangle. Lora Bojinova: Dark Blood Red — Concrete stairs splattered with blood — Rectangles and squares, shape of stairs. Fausto Bozzano: Black — Me kneeled down on the floor with a soldier in front of me that is hitting me — Triangle isosceles. Bob O’rourke: Black — Pitch black night and white stars shine like an explosion when I close my eyes, like thousands rays of light making everything white — No shapes. Carol Breen: Red — Black Sadness — White triangles. Tuuli: Green — A room with no doors — Squares.
ELECTRIC SHOCKS Sara Serafini: Dark grey — Empty room without windows or doors but only with a pond of blood sitting in the middle — Cube Susana Díaz Baamonde: Black — Darkness —Round Graziella Nascimben: Bright — Perpetual fire — rhombus Simon Pitt: Bluish grey — Bare walls and water — White rectangles Raffaella: Black — Shivers and a slightly lighted and bare room — Circle
DENIAL OF MEDICAL TREATMENT Carolina: Dark red,— Cracked wall— Lines and Triangles. No name: Purple, gray and red — Dark cell stained with blood — Triangles. Francesca Conti: Dark Brown, gray and black — Four guards beating another man — circle.