Syrian refugee Omar Alshogre, who was tortured in his homeland at the hands of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, went viral after sharing his elation of being accepted into Georgetown University.
“I made it to Georgetown!” Alshogre exclaimed gleefully in a nine-second video he posted on Twitter.
— Omar Alshogre (@omarAlshogre) November 1, 2020
Imprisonment Under the Assad Regime
Alshogre was only 15 years old when he was first arrested with his cousins when soldiers raided his uncle’s house in 2012. He would be arrested multiple times for his participation in the pro-democracy protests. His father, who knew some of the local police commanders, negotiated his release.
As Assad’s violent response to the protests eventually ignited the civil war, Alshogre was held in a regime prison for three years.
The 25-year-old narrated to Middle East Monitor his day-to-day agony of being tortured and starved, a routine which killed two of his cousins. While Alshogre was imprisoned, he was forced to dispose of the bodies of dead prisoners and mark their foreheads.
During this time, his father and brother were killed in the 2013 Bayda massacre in his home village.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights revealed that over 129,000 Syrians disappeared after being arrested by the regime, 14,000 of which were sentenced to death.
Alshogre was released after his mother saved up enough money to bribe the officials for his release. He immediately fled to Sweden and quickly progressed through the school system after learning English and Swedish.
Life After His Escape
While he hoped to fulfill his father’s dream of finishing his education, Alshogre chose to travel to America, where he testified to German lawyers and European war crime investigators to help build a case against the Assad regime.
He has since become a human rights activist, public speaker, and director for detainee affairs at the Syrian Emergency Task Force.
However, throughout his work, he has felt guilt for not fulfilling his late father’s expectations. Alshogre’s admission to Georgetown University has given him an opportunity to continue working on his father’s dreams for him while advocating for his homeland.
He will be taking up Business Administration and Entrepreneurship.