SYRIATEL .. an Establishment? Or an Intelligence Branch?
Omar Al Assil
5 April 2012
I wrote, about a year ago (27 April 2011), in a blog: (SYRIATEL .. with or against us?) about Syriatel Mobile Operator and their exclusion policies, by tracking its employees’ news and writings on the Facebook, terminating those who seem to be even only empathizing with the demonstrators. I wrote about special cases where I was an eye-witness.
The events have not stopped since I published that article. Investigations were directed to find out the writer, and punish him. They did manage to get to the company I worked with, and, using their relation with its management, passed their complain, suggesting the termination of my contract with it. For their misfortune, the company was a foreign company, and it ignored their request.
For a year, Syriatel has practiced a security policy. An intelligence agent, who was in ‘Political Security’, was assigned ‘officially’ as a security officer in the company. He was to monitor each employee’s Facebook account, and peek into their news and relations inside and outside the company.
With all these ‘efforts’, the management could categorize all the employees in only two ‘classes’: a patriotic employee, who loves the President, supports the regime, participates in the rallies, and informs upon his peers of the other ‘class’; and a traitor employee, who likes demonstrations (even if he does not participate in them), does not show his ‘love’ of the President, and gives various justifications for not participating in the rallies.
A classification that used the love of the President as the only criterion. Performance, commitment, nor hardworking had any say in this classification. They used to terminate any employee who was proved to have participated in a demonstration, or was arrested by security forces. Once he is discharged from the tyrannical security detainment, he faces a termination instead of the expected sympathy and support by the company.
The CEO of the company, a Lebanese, has become the ‘patriotic’ preacher, giving the employees lessons in patriotism, telling them how to love the regime, the ‘Leader’ President, and the young engineer, namely Rami Makhloof; and not to be dragged into a foreign conspiracy.
Terminating demonstrators and ex-detainees was not the end. Most recently, the company started a big campaign: they forced every employee of the second ‘class’ – an opponent – to resign, with no reason, in a complete disregard of the Labor Law, regarding indemnity and other rights.
Additionally, they utilized company resources to track the activists, and mass-punish the uprising areas, through cutting off the mobile service, intercepting, eavesdropping, recording of calls, blocking and tracking; supported by European companies, some of which, until recently, have been providing Syriatel with the necessary equipment.
The other mobile operator, MTN, which has also applied the same security policies, namely cutting off the service, tracking and eavesdropping, has terminated some of its employees – for the above reasons. However, they were rare and nonsystematic cases, unlike Syriatel.
One Party policy, and tyrannical mindset, do not respect any labor law, ethics nor professionalism. They only know abolishment/nullification. I really don’t know how some people still regard the regime as auspicious, seeing its on-the-ground-actions and practices. If the regime survives, it will mass-punish all opponents. First punish, then excluded.
Syriatel ‘victims’ mounted to tens of employees who have been terminated just because of their political beliefs. Have lost their jobs when the general economic situation of the country forces many people to strive for providing food to family, in a very strong depression; and when other job opportunities are so rare, paying a high price for their attitudes and views.
Other Syriatel ‘victims’ were the families, areas, patients, and hospitals that were cut off from the world, as service was cut off by a security order. They were activists eavesdropped, and tracked, then names were given to security branches. They were the people who were blocked, monitored and intercepted by company whose returns were confiscated by a punch of a ruling family.
One ex-employee stated that they were forced to cut off mobile service in certain areas. Security branch used to continually send them mobile numbers of people to be tracked, monitoring the persons and entities they communicate with, so they can detain them. Many European companies have provided them with monitoring equipment, to track the activists. One ex-employee who was terminated has written: “I was surprised to be called and given the termination notice, with no reasonable justification, even though my performance and my ex-manager’s evaluation were ‘excellent’. I am not sorry for the termination itself, but for the status the company has reached, where the excellence criterion is the compliance with the owners’ general political stand.” Another ex-employee expressed that he used to provide his family, and had been terminated in a time when it was so difficult to get another job; and that he would be forced to leave the country to work abroad – only because of his attitude of the Syrian regime.
Another ex-employee was surprised, while working in his office, with the security forces standing at his desk. They took him to an unknown place, and the company management refused to provide any information about the entity these forces belong to.
All the above are extracts of many stories of ex-employees at the Head Office only, most of which are about engineers, technicians and some administrators. Other tens of stories about ex-employees in other governorates, especially the uprising ones, who have lost their jobs because of their political point of views.