BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) – In his novel "The Shell," Syrian writer Mustafa Khalifa describes the tyrannical and humiliating oppression of a Syrian prisoner who served several years without trial in Syria's notoriously brutal prisons.
Speaking also from his own experiences, the author reveals the cruel and inhumane treatment of Palestinian Bashar Sharif Ali Yahya who has been locked up in Syria without trial since 1985 according to his family, who resides in the northern West Bank village of al-Araqa near Jenin.
Bashar's mother Aisha says she never stopped praying for the return of her son.
Some ten years after Bashar disappeared, the family received news that he was alive in the infamous Adraa prison.
"After years of search we found Bashar safe and sound thank God," Aisha told Ma'an.
A Jerusalemite family who visited their own jailed son in Saydnaya prison in Syria learned by chance that Bashar was in the same prison and reported his location to the Yahya family.
"The good news brought back our determination to find a way to get in touch with him," said Aisha.
"Bashar left to Jordan looking for work and we never knew he would go to Syria. Only a few months later, a relative who lives in Jordan told us that Bashar disappeared. There were no mobile phones at that time so it took us long to learn about his disappearance. After investigation we learnt that he traveled to Syria, but we never knew why," Aisha explained.'I was allowed to see my brother for ten minutes'
Aisha traveled to Syria and was able to see her son, speaking with him behind rusty bars for a fleeting 15 minutes.
She left the prison grounds without clear understanding why Bashar had been jailed, telling Ma'an that Bashar himself was either unaware of the grounds of his detention or afraid to speak on the matter while still in custody.
Aisha appealed for the intervention of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to intervene for his release.
Bashar's brother Fahd held similar experience as his mother. He met Bashar in 2010 for ten minutes after obtaining permission from Syrian intelligence.
Neither him or Bashar recognized each other when Fahd arrived to the prison, he told Ma'an.
"I was allowed to see my brother for ten minutes during which I tried to get answers about why he was jailed. All he said was that he was first locked up in Tadmur prison and had been moved to other prisons, but up until that day no charges had been leveled at him and he was never put through court."
Fahd said his father had traveled to Syria in attempt visit Bashar, but was unable to see him.
"My father had died by the time I visited Bashar, and when I told him he burst into tears."
After infighting broke in Syria four years ago, Bashar's family has dropped farther into fear regarding his fate.
The family holds letters the International Committee of the Red Cross delivers from Bashar, two of which arrived just two weeks ago.
In one of the letters Bashar bids his greetings and confirms he received messages sent by the family, wishing them and the village good health and asking them to send photos and a phone number.