My father was a role model to me. He was respectful and kind and loved by everyone. I wasn’t lucky enough to spend more time with him. My name is Rami Kheirallah and I’m from Homs, I was 12 years old when my father was detained by Syrian regime because of his political activism in 2012. The year before, I had been forced to skip school because of the escalation from the regime in my area in Homs. I was too young to understand why the regime is killing its own people.
Everything was too much to handle. I had hopes that my father would come back soon. My mother and my two younger siblings went through very difficult circumstances after my father was detained. I had to completely give up on the idea of going back to school. I started to sell homemade bread to make money for the family.
I still dreamed of having my father back. One memory in particular kept coming back to me, of traveling to the grave of my grandpa with him when I was 11. This was something we did every year during Eid. On our way home, I saw children swimming in the river near a water wheel, “Dad, can I go swimming with them?” My father told me that it was too deep for me and I needed to learn proper swimming to go in. “I promise next year I will teach you how to swim and I will take you to see the sea, not just a river”.
Next year came and my father was missing. I’m now 20 years old and I don’t know how to swim. I learned about my father’s death through the Caesar’s photos in 2015, and I will never visit my grandpa’s grave again during Eid. I don’t even have a grave for my father to visit and grieve next to. I try to remind myself of the memories of the short life I’ve got to live with my father. I want to get justice for my father and for the thousands of the victims of torture in Syria. But most importantly for me is also to keep remembering them, because that is also a way of doing justice to them.