Former detainee Omar al-Shogre before his arrest and shortly after his release from Saydnaya Military Prison in Syria. Courtesy of Amnesty International
A picture tells all, reminiscent of extermination camp photos. No level of hyperbole can capture the shocking transformation from the vibrant young Syrian man with his shadow’s wraith who survived. He represents one among thousands–and few lived to witness the war crimes.
NPR aired this story tonight—one dark glimpse, a pinpoint to the depths of horror in Syrian prisons. Honestly, compared to Amnesty’s report and this escaped prisoner’s witness, being in solitary–as reflected in a poem I wrote 12 years ago–would offer relative safety from the bestial horrors and privations that this young man and many among his friends and family survived.
Yet, now relieved to be in Sweden and soon starting school to earn an engineering degree, Omar is somehow still bright eyed and remarkably optimistic. What an example of the incredible power of the human spirit and the importance of welcoming immigrants.