Vakkas Orhan is free after spending a decade in a Syrian prison, but the long stint has taken its toll on the Turkish businessperson. Orhan, who was released in May and reunited with his family in Turkey, was hospitalized after an unbearable pain in his hip. An examination revealed hip fractures, for which he underwent surgery. Now, he spends his days in the capital Ankara, awaiting three more surgeries.
He says the fractures are “marks of torture” he suffered in Syria. Orhan was arrested in 2011, at the start of the civil war in Syria, on charges of espionage, before he was acquitted and released last month. A few days after reuniting with his family living in the capital, he was admitted to a hospital for pain in his groin and hip. Doctors operated on him on June 22 and fixed a fracture on his left hip. He was discharged from the hospital but will need more surgeries, his doctors say.
Orhan told Anadolu Agency (AA) Friday that he suffered mistreatment and torture at the hands of prison officials in Syria. “I was first taken to a prison for a week and they tortured me three times there. They used to take me to my cell after every session of torture and would fill the cell with water. I had no place to lie down,” he said, recounting his initial days. He was then transferred to another prison, where he was left to starve for a long time. They continued to torture him there. “I was hearing my ribs cracking at every beating. I was prepared to die. I saw a man dying of hunger. They gave me and others nothing but a small glass of flour. Prisoners had to make their own bread. This continued for months,” he said. Orhan was also suffering from prostate, heart and respiratory problems. “Prison staff thought I would die soon and nicknamed me ‘Corpse Number Three,’” he said.
He said his hip fractures were probably a result of a beating about seven months before his release. “I was going downstairs in prison when a prison staff kicked me. I fell to the ground and felt great pain. I could barely sleep that day because of pain,” he recalled. Doctors will now operate on Orhan’s other fractures, as well as on his left knee and prostate. Dr. Yusuf Erdem, who operated on him, said the fractures were the result of “constant trauma.” “He had fractures we rarely see here. When we heard his story, it corroborated our suspicions that he was subjected to long-term trauma. His fall from the stairs only worsened the failing state of his bones and led to the fracture,” he said.