Fetisov Journaism Awards Shortlist 2021

Category: Outstanding Contribution to Peace

Authors: Ali Al Ibrahim, Khalifa Al Khuder

(Sweden / Syria)

Daraj - March 25, 2021

The original publication is available via the following link: https://daraj.com/en/69350/

Syria’s Sinister yet Lucrative Trade in Dead Bodies

"The corpses the officers had marked we would later dig up and hand back to them. They would ask the victims’ families for $1,500 to $3,000 per body."

Anwar al-Muhammad was wandering around the garbage dump like he had done for years, looking for anything of value that could be traded or sold, when he suddenly smelt a strange smell. It was moldy mixed with the reek of flesh. At first he thought it was a dead dog.

What the 35-year-old garbage collector found instead in the landfill in the village of Hadath east of Aleppo would turn his life upside down, and turn him into a very rich man.

As it turned out, the smell emanated from the partly decomposed body of someone recently liquidated by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).“If it were not for the remains of God’s creation, I would not have been able to build my house on the land I inherited from my father,” said Anwar pointing at his home. “Look, it has a courtyard and stone fences. And I have planted olive seedlings.”

Having dug a hole next to the dump Anwar buried what was left of the corpse. He feared leaving it out in the open might attract stray dogs. This was in August 2014.

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