A police state is one in which the government exercises rigid and repressive controls over the social, economic, and political life of the population. [Wiki]
As bad as this may sound to many people reading the definition of a police state is nothing like living in one. Fortunately, I never lived in a police state but I used to visit Syria every year during my childhood and teenage years. Therefore, I at least partiality know how bad it is to live in a police state.
In police states, there is only one political party led by one man until his death. Citizens in police states are forced to believe that they eat, drink, work, live, marry and do their everyday livelihood safely only because of the father, police states call the ruler the father. And this is why North Koreans wept uncontrollably when their father died and why citizens of police states are forced to believe that they can only survive after the death of their father if his son takes control of the country and becomes their new father.
In police states, every wall and every column has the picture of the father and almost every roundabout has a statute of the father. There should be as many schools as possible that has the name of the father. All service projects (buildings, highways, schools, etc.) are established because of the father.
In the case of Syria, the Baath party went even further to call the country “Sorriya Al-Assad.” It wasn’t enough for one of the oldest cities in the world and the country that existed before the Biblical era to just be called Syria. The Baath party decided that although Assyrians, Akkadians, Phoenicians, Romans and Muslim civilizations and empires left their fingerprints in that historical place it is for the best interest of the citizens to be called “Sorriya Al-Assad.” After all what is Syria without the father?
There are many bad memories about how the Baath party controlled Syria. Everyone knows you don’t want to be called by the Mukhabarat (Intelligence Agency). In Syria, there is no such thing as keeping records of who is in jail. Once someone is called by the Mukhabarat and went missing after that there is no use of going to the police station or the Mukhabarat and ask whereabouts the missing person. This will prevent citizens of calling lawyers because there is no case. The Mukhabarat admits that they called the person, asked him questions but they let him go after that.
In front of one of the Mukhabarat buildings in Damascus there is a big park. The park used to be open for the public before the Mukhabarat decided to open their office there. For those who have never been to the Middle East parking cars is as chaos as the word means. There is no such thing as a dedicated parking for every resident building. The reason I am mentioning this because around this park there are hundred of cars parked there for years. These cars are not for the residents of that area. They are for men called by the Mukhabarat and didn’t make it out of the building.
Of course in police states treating people inhumanly is not limited to the citizens it even affects visitors. Traveling to Syria by car is one of the worst way to enter this country. The distance from Irbid, Jordan to Damascus is only 100 KM (62 Mile) and the distance from Irbid to Amman’s airport is about 90 KM (55 Mile). Add to that the expensive ticket prices it becomes logic to travel by car to Damascus.
Next, I am going to write about my experiences at Syria’s borders with Jordan. Syria’s border is known to be one of the most notorious borders.