The Times, 19 November 2011

Yassin al-Haj Saleh, a Syrian opposition activist and intellectual in his fifties, was imprisoned from 1980 to 1996 for his membership of a Communist pro-democracy group. He has been in hiding with his wife, Samira al Khalil, since March.

“I’ve been in hiding since March 30, after Bashar Assad’s first speech after the start of the uprising. I felt that I could not stay in my home if I was to say what needed to be said. In essence, I try to cover the revolution intellectually and speak about aspects not addressed by analyses of the political situation.

“I am frightened of being caught.Having spent long years in jail I am all too familiar with the meaning of imprisonment. The thing that frightens me the most, naturally, is torture. And being captured without anyone knowing. I don’t know what would happen to me in such a situation. Anything is possible in Assad’s Syria.

“What motivates me primarily is moral and cultural considerations — justice, freedom and truth. I was imprisoned for a long time, 16 years, and since my release I have never felt safe. Others should not have to experience what I went through, along with thousands of others of my generation.”

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