Amid the growing violence across Syria, and as a result of the remarkable security vacuum that prevails in different areas in the country, students seem to be one of the most affected victims of the thirty-month-old war.
As the final exams at the University of Damascus approached, only a small number of students could attend. However, those have faced serious barriers to be admitted access to their partially devastated colleges.
Members of a recently established pro-Assad militia, so-called the Popular Committees, are said to guard the main gates of the university’s colleges, checking the students and reportedly intimidating them.
For many students, those Popular Committees are considerably comparable to the Shabiha militia, but specified for students.
Mohammed Khalil, a student at Damascus University, told ARA News that the armed members of the Popular Committees are resorting to different kinds of practices to intimidate students, including “robbery of personal belongnings of the students”.
“They force students to hand in their ID cards, cell phones and money after searching everyone in an arbitrary and inhuman way,” Khalil said. “Such terrorizing practices against students cause an avoidance to approach the university, even during the time of exams.”
According to Khalil, students are mainly concerned with the issue of confiscating their ID cards by the armed Popular Committees at the entrance of any college in Damascus.
“It happens often that the students’ identity cards are being confiscated by these guards and never returned. Asking the guard (members of the Popular Committees) to return the ID would cause the student a harsh insult by the guard,” Khalil added.
Hani is a student at the Faculty of Medicine in Damascus who suffers mounting barriers while trying to continue his study amid the current instability and insecurity.
He told ARA News that an armed group (linked to the so-called Popular Committees) encountered him near his college last month and robbed the personal belongings he was carrying, “including my mobile phone, an amount of $1250, and my ID card,” he said.
Apparently, students are mainly worried about their ID cards, since its loss deprives them of any civil rights, beside the danger of being misused by members of the militia.
According to sources, the so-called Popular Committees (specialized in guarding main gates at Damascus University and public squares in the city) consist of a number of groups, each of which is formed of five members, wearing uniforms and bearing guns.
Source: ARA News
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