The Story of Khalid Hadla

From a Human Rights Watch Report

Khalid Hadla was married and had three young children. He worked as a carpenter and lived in Daraya, near Damascus. According to Amer Hadla, Khalid’s brother who lives outside of Syria, Air Force Intelligence officers arrested Khalid in January 2013 during a raid on his home, while his wife and children watched.[48] In January 2013, government and anti-government forces were engaged in fierce battles for control of Daraya, with the Syrian army re-taking the town from anti-government armed groups early that month.[49] Many people were arrested during this period.

Khalid’s brother told Human Rights Watch that the Hadla family was known in Daraya for being anti-government:

Everybody [in Daraya] supported the rebellion, even women they supported it. Our family Hadla is well-known as a supporter of the rebellion…the soldiers of the family that were in the Syrian army defected and became members of the FSA [Free Syrian Army].

However, he said that Khalid was known as the quiet one in the family, and only participated in peaceful protests. He added that a Syrian Air Force Intelligence officer in the area, Bashar Daher, threatened Khalid and other members of the Hadla family on multiple occasions, and made visits to Khalid’s house to threaten him, according to his family members in Daraya.

After Khalid’s arrest, the family later learned from former detainees who had seen Khalid in detention that he was detained at the Air Force Intelligence branch in Mezze.

Amer added that Daher, the officer, came to his other brothers after Khalid was detained. “He told them, ‘Khaled admitted everything under torture. We won’t give him back to you.’” A former detainee told the family they he saw Khalid in detention at the Air Force Intelligence facility in Mezze but provided little detail about Khalid’s well-being and condition in detention.

Amer added that after Khalid’s arrest and reported coerced confession, his remaining four brothers and his sister were all arrested; only one has since been released. The fate of the remaining four siblings remains unknown. Amer recognized his brother among the released Caesar photographs after an acquaintance told him a family member was among them:

I was too sad at first, I did not want to look at the photographs. I told myself I want nothing to do with that. Then someone said he recognized someone from the Hadla family. They sent me an SMS [with] a picture. It was true, he was here. It was him, one hundred percent.

Human Rights Watch also spoke with Khalid’s other brother Ma’moun, who confirmed that he recognized Khalid in the photograph. The white card in the picture identified by Khalid’s family was marked with the letter “ج”, indicating that the detainee was under the custody of the Air Force Intelligence branch. The photo was in a folder dated June 4, 2013, about five months after Khalid’s arrest. Khalid was 39 years old when he was arrested.

Human Rights Watch showed five photographs that are reportedly of Khaled after his death to forensic experts at Physicians for Human Rights. PHR’s team of forensic pathologists noted that the photographs showed an adult man who appeared to be in his 40s, and that the photographs showed evidence of severe blunt force trauma, in particular to his left arm. The expert report noted that the victim had been hung by both wrists.

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