autocratic control, dictatorship, fascism, forces of disorder, malignant narcissists, political absolutism, political criminality, Syria, Syrian atrocities, totalitarianism, tyranny, tyrants, war crimes
Omar first heard about the graffiti at morning recess. It was winter, he was 14, in the middle of 10th grade, and his friends said it was just a prank. The day before, just after school, a handful of Omar’s classmates found some red paint and scrawled, “Your turn doctor,” on the school’s wall. Under most circumstances, in most places, such behavior might provoke a slap on the wrist — perhaps a stern visit from the police. But in Daraa, Syria, in February 2011, those words could get you killed.
The local secret police soon arrested 15 boys between the ages of 10 and 15, detaining them under the control of Gen. Atef Najeeb, a cousin of President Bashar al-Assad.
In a gloomy interrogation room the children were beaten and bloodied, burned and had their fingernails pulled out by grown men working for a regime whose unchecked brutality appears increasingly to be sowing the seeds of its undoing.