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Filmmaker: Hala Mohamed

The magnificent ruins of Palmyra, or Tad-Mor in Arabic, lie in the heart of the Syrian desert - a bleakly beautiful reminder of an ancient civilisation.

But the road from Damascus to Palmyra, some 215 km, is more than just a desert drive to a tourist site for Ghassan Jba'i, Yassin Hajj Saleh, and Faraj Bera'qdar.

The three men have, between them, spent some 40 years in Palmyra - yet none of them has seen the ruins before.

In the 1980s they were taken, blindfolded, to the notoriously brutal prison there - a place where the Syrian authorities kept political prisoners from various opposition groups without charge or trial.

A place of "dehumanising torture and ill treatment" according to Amnesty International. 

Filmmaker Hala Mohamed travelled with them on their first journey back to Palmyra, chronicling the remarkable spirit that kept them alive through torture and incarceration.

On the journey they recount their experiences in jail, sharing the intimate details of lives spent separated from friends and family and subject to physical and emotional assault.

Journey into Memory aired from Sunday, July 4, 2010.

Source: Al Jazeera