CHICAGO (CBS) — About two dozen supporters of the rebels attempting to overthrown Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad staged political theater Saturday in front of Water Tower Place, on North Michigan Avenue.

Some wore bandages or were laid out on the ground, pretending to be dead. One protester standing near activist Zacharea Katerji wore a sign that read, “In Assad’s Syria, detention is worse than death.”

“When you’re killed, you have a bullet in your brain or a bullet in your heart. You die. You’re dead. It’s over,” he said. “But when you get detained, the torture you will go under is worse than anything anyone else can experience.”

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports

Katerji said he was pleased to hear that rebels Saturday killed a Syrian general who oversaw a military hospital in Damascus. He said the government, not rebels, were responsible for bombings that killed 28 people in the northern city of Aleppo on Friday.

He said the activists hoped to bring home the plight of Syrians who oppose the Assad regime to shoppers.

“We should just realize our blessings in this country,” he said. “We should not take (freedom) for granted. There are people being killed every day for just coming out and saying, ‘We want freedom.'”

The insurgency is in its 12th month. President Barack Obama has voiced support for the Syrian rebels in recent weeks. But Katerji said weapons for the insurgents would mean much more than words.

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