| Interview with Um Hadigah
After having been imprisoned illegally and tortured in the notorious Faraí Falastin prison in Syria, Mohamed Hamid has been detained in Denmark as part of efforts of the Danish authorities to make public examples of being tough of terror. Having been found innocent of any crime in Syria, the Danish authorities are unable to bring a case against Mohamed and he now faces deportation to Iraq. Cageprisoners speaks to Um Hadigah, the wife of Mohamed Hamid, explaining her worries and the complexities of the case.
Related: Urgent Appeal - Detention and Torture of Mohamad Hamid
Cageprisoners: Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Um Hadigah: My name is Um Hadigah. I am living in Denmark, I am a housewife and I have a daughter who is two months old.
CP: What brought your husband to Syria?
UH: My husband, Mohamed Hamid, travelled with his Uncle and cousin from Denmark to Syria to meet the family who lived in Syria, who they had not seen for many years; so it was a family visit. My husband also has a phone shop in Denmark city centre and he usually travels to buy goods and different things for his shop. So in Syria they would know him as he buys many things for his shop, phones, computer things etc.
CP: Could you please explain the circumstances of your husbandís arrest?
UH: The three men were arrested immediately on arriving at the airport in Damascus. They were put in jail straight away, in a prison near a place called Faraí Falastin (The Palestine Branch), and thereís a prison near this place. Without the opportunity of informing relatives, so he didnít tell his family where he was, and so they didnít know what happened to the three men and where they were.
CP: You mentioned that he had been tortured; could you please elaborate upon the types of torture he endured?
UH: Yes, the men they were told psychologically, again and again that they would never leave this place, the prison. At the beginning, the three men were put in the same cell, but then after a while the Syrian police they put my husband in a different cell, away from the other two family members. So from that day they didnít hear anything from him, and he was beaten to the extent that his clothes were ripped apart, and there was blood on it. He bought these clothes with him when he travelled back to Denmark, and the police they used it in the investigation, and have now finished with it. So now I have the clothes in my house, so I have it as evidence Ė of what happened to him. In the prison, when they changed him from the first cell to the second cell he was put in a cell filled with people, to the extent that they nearly lay on each other, and it was totally dark, no light at all.
CP: Who were the two men arrested with you husband?
UH: They were his Uncle and his cousin, but because they had Danish passports, they were quickly released. Unlike my husband, he only has residency in Denmark for seven years, but he doesnít have a Danish passport.
CP: What did the Syrians want with him?
UH: The Syrians were told by the Danish authorities to arrest him, and so they arrested him as it was requested from the Danish authorities. The Syrians said to my husband they have no interest in keeping him, and they themselves made an investigation in Syria and they didnít find anything on him, because the questions they asked him Ė he answered them and they (the Syrian authorities) checked it up and everything was fine, and they didnít have interest in keeping him, but they were told by the Danish authorities to keep him back, and send him to Iraq, but they didnít say why. That was just the request from the Danish authorities, but the Syrians didnít they just released him, as they said we have no interest in keeping you, we have no interest in sending you to Iraq.
CP: What evidence do you have that the Danish authorities were involved with his detention in Syria?
UH: We donít really have any evidence because the intelligence agencies in Denmark - they donít say anything about this case at all. Not in the media, not to anyone. In Syria, the Danish consulate they went to visit him in prison, so they did see him, but the Intelligence Service didnít say anything about him.
CP: So what gave you the feeling that the Danish authorities were the one that asked for his arrest?
UH: Because that is what the Syrian police told my husband when he was in Syria. They told him, we donít have interest in keeping you here. This is the Danish authorities who told us they are putting pressure on us to send you to Iraq or to keep you. That is what he was told after two months of prison in Syria.
CP: Did the Danish authorities ever try and help him through the consulate?
UH: Well, what happened was that I was in daily contact with them. From Denmark I called the Danish consulate in Syria everyday, and they told me that they did visit him, they did see him, and they told me that they asked the Syrian Police why he has been detained and held back? The consulate told me that the Syrians did not want to say why he was held back. I know it is very complicated. The Syrian police they did tell my husband, it is the Danish authorities who told us to arrest you, and told us to send you to Iraq, after two months they told this to my husband.
CP: Was Mohammad ever questioned by westerners while imprisoned in Syria?
UH: Only by the consulate that is in Syria, they went twice to visit him and they only asked about his health.
CP: Where were you when you first heard of your husbandís arrest? What affect did that have on you and your daughter?
UH: I was at home, I still didnít have my daughter, I was devastated and deeply concerned and I was pregnant at the time.
CP: Why did the Syrianís let him go?
UH: Because they said that they didnít have anything on him. When they interrogated him and he answered the questions they investigated, and checked his answers and everything he said was fine. Like they could see that he had bought goods to take back with him; to sell in his shop; and they could see that- he had sent these things in the post and everything he said was fine. They said we are not interested in keeping you, youíre free to go where you want to go.
CP: What were the circumstances of his arrest in Denmark?
UH: Immediately in the airport, when he arrived in the airport in Copenhagen they arrested him, and then he got one phone call to call and say that heíd arrive in Denmark, and that the police have arrested him. They arrested him because they said they took his residency in Syria Ė they took his residency away from him, and in the airport when he arrived in Denmark they said you donít have residency.
CP: Under what law is your husband being detained?
UH: Itís called 45B itís a new law after the terror attacks in America. It has only been used twice this year, and it says that anyone whom the intelligence services says is a danger to the Danish authorities or country, we can arrest him and keep him in prison without a trial. He doesnít need to go in front of a judge and have his case tried. That is how the new law is, and then if he is not a Danish citizen they can take his residency and tell him to leave the country without coming in front of a judge.
CP: And how long can he be held in detention without trial? What is the next stage in your husbandís case?
UH: Now he has been in Danish prison for seven months- I donít think thereís a minimum or maximum, at the moment his case is being tried at the refugee ministry and whatever their decision will be it will be definite, because we already write many letters to them. We explained to them the situation and they wrote back, saying that they will take the letters into consideration when making a decision. But they still have not made a decision. My husband has a lawyer already and even the lawyer says that it is very unusual that you cannot have your case tried in front of a judge.
CP: You have mentioned that he faces deportation to Iraq Ė what are your concerns about this?
UH: I am very concerned because my husband is originally Chukmanee, and they lived in Northern Iraq. In Northern Iraq there are many Kurdish people and the Chukmanee people are very much disliked by the Kurdish. My husband's brother was arrested four years ago and still now we have not heard from the Kurdish military. They just took him and the situation right now it is that my husbandís family they have been told by the Kurdish military to leave the city or else they will be arrested; and not only their family but all the Chuckmanee families have been told, because of their nationality, to leave the city.
CP: Why was his brother detained in Iraq?
UH: My husbandís brother was a school teacher, he was arrested one day when he was sitting at a cafe. We donít know why he was arrested four years ago, and from that day we have not heard anything and we donít know if he is alive or dead.
CP: How long have you been married to your husband?
UH: Since August 2006
CP: What qualities make your husband special?
UH: He is a very good person, and he is liked by many people. People do come to ask for his advice, so he is known to be a good person. He is deeply involved with helping orphans in Iraq, with an organisation called, ĎTakathurí, thatís an organisation based in Denmark that helps the orphans in Iraq. At the moment they are helping over 100 orphans, who donít have anything. He is a very honest person, and has a lot of patience.
CP: What affect has this ordeal had on you and your family?
UH: It's affecting the whole family, it is especially causing me a lot of stress, as I donít know how the future looks, and I donít know if he will be deported and how our lives will be in Iraq if we go back, and yes it's just a very stressful life.
CP: And what effect is this having on your daughter? I mean she has never met her father has she?
UH: I have visitation for one hour every Wednesday with a policeman in the same room when I visit my husband, but she has seen her father and he has seen his daughter; yes.
CP: Have the local community been supportive?
UH: The Muslim community - yes, very supportive ma sha Allah. They call regularly and ask if I need anything, if Iím okay and if they can help me with anything, and they ask about how the case is going - so alhamdulillah, yes.
CP: Are there many Muslims who have been detained in Denmark or is this case quite rare?
UH: Yes, at the moment there would be four different cases in different cities in Denmark where they have detained people because they say that they were planning to commit terrorrist acts, but my husbandís case is special because we donít get it tried in front of a judge. All the other cases do get tried in front of a judge.
CP: What is your opinion about the way the Danish authorities have dealt with your husband?
UH: I can say that I feel deeply shaken by it. I canít believe that this can happen in a country as Denmark. People are meant to have their right dealt with and i feel that they have had two faces going on. I feel what is happening in Denmark is the same that is happening in Guantanamo as they also donít get tried in front of a judge, it's the same with my husband. He doesnít get tried in front of a judge, and he was being tortured in Syria.
CP: How has the media portrayed your husband?
UH: I was on the TV two days ago in the news channel and it was very positive. They presented it in a good way. They have been very good, there were some people after it on the TV to say how could this happen. There was one from Amnesty and one from Denmark and he said that this is totally against human rights - itís wrong. There was also a lot of politicians saying it was wrong, so alhamdulillah it was portrayed very well on the TV.
CP: Do you have any message for our readers?
UH: I would like anyone to make du'a for my husband, thatís the strongest weapon so in sha Allah anyone can make du'a for him. I will also make du'a for all the brother and sisters who are in prison.
CP: Thank you for speaking to us, Um Hadigah.
Urgent Appeal - Detention and Torture of Mohamad Hamid
Message of support for Um Hadigah can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org