The Syrian regime has consistently refused access to independent international monitors to inspect their detention facilities. Amnesty International and other groups have been calling for action on this, and for the regime to publish names of detainees, their whereabouts and what has happened to the bodies of those who have died. It's now been one year since our bus journey. Many of the Syrians on that bus still have photographs of their missing loved ones displayed on their Facebook profiles. They are still waiting for news of their disappeared.
What is extraordinary is the resilience and the spirit of these children. Less than half of them are in school, but they play their games and dream their dreams. Hamid, at fifteen, dreams of course of returning home - and of football. From a tent in the mud of the Bekaa Valley, he's a fan of Barcelona.
In DeLillo's White Noise the narrator Gladney spends a lot of time with his academic colleague, Murray Jay Siskind, a cynical New Yorker with a penchant for constant theorising. Gladney, half-appalled, sums up his colleague's acidic take on the world: "Murray says we are fragile creatures surrounded by a world of hostile facts. Facts threaten our happiness and security."
Western states have always prioritised domestic responsibilities over international ones, as all countries do. However, the gap between these responsibilities has never seemed so wide. Recent political events seem to suggest a possible cultural shift when it comes to Western states becoming embroiled with an international crisis.
The history of Syria is not a peaceful one, even before the current civil war, Syria had been ruled by the iron fist of dictators, the people suffering from heavy sectarian violence. Though the land it occupies has been home to people for thousands of years, the country of Syria is less than a century old, and herein lies the key to its bloody history.
All of the deaths, disappearances and instances of violence and torture that have affected my Syrian friends' lives should be fiction, could have been fiction if things had turned out differently. But since they haven't, these facts have had to be absorbed into the fabric of people's lives, just as the realities of life on a refugee camp have had to be.
As someone who adores new technology I'm not sure whether to be impressed or appalled by this new generation of 'live' carnage. I feel near helpless sat on a comfy couch, in a leafy green part of London, yet as a generation we have never been so empowered by the tools handed to us 'millennials'. But we are not helpless.
Saydnaya is a place of unimaginable terror. Even when you know about the numerous horrors that have already unfolded in Syria in the past half-decade, it chills you to the bone to hear survivors telling you what it was like to be in Saydnaya. The 30 or so former detainees we spoke to have been to hell and back.