On 29 April, humanrights groups worldwide are marking the birthday of Syrian human rightsdefender Razan Zaitouneh, who will be spending it in captivity for thethird time along with her three colleagues, her husband Wael Hamada,Samira Khalil and Nazem Hamadi. Join the call to help free the four human rights defenders, who wereabducted in December 2013, and send messages of solidarity.
On9 December 2013, the four human rights defenders – collectively known as the“Duma Four” - wereabducted by a group of armed men who raided theoffices of the Violations Documentation Centre(VDC) in Duma, near Damascus. There has been nonews of their whereabouts in the past two and a half years but they arepresumed to be held by armed groups in control of the area. The family isconcerned for Zaitouneh’s health and well-being given the absence of anyinformation.
To help bring attentionto their case, “we are hoping once again to shine a light on theirdisappearance,” says Rana Zaitouneh, Razan’s sister. On 30 April, thefamily is hosting a vigil on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, co-sponsored byAmnesty International Canada. Theyare also asking those who are unable to attend to post messages of solidarity,photos, artwork, or anything else that may spread awareness over the next week.For more information on the vigil, visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/624548577704940/.
You can post a messageor a photo of yourself with the photo above at https://www.facebook.com/Celebrating-Razan-Zaitounehs-Birthday-1534775286818856/
Oneof three finalists for the 2016 MartinEnnals Award for Human Rights Defenders, “Razan has dedicated her life todefending political prisoners, documenting crimes against humanity, and helpingothers free themselves from oppression.”
In February, acoalition of NGOs nominated Zaitouneh as the prisoner of the month as part ofthe “Their freedom is their right” campaign initiated by the Arabic Network forHuman Rights Information (ANHRI) and Maharat Foundation. See http://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1178
Khalid Ibrahim, Co-Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights(GCHR), says, “I worked with Razan for many years. It would have been very easyfor Razan to leave Syria and have a luxury life in any Western country of herchoice, however she decided to stay in Syria to do the job she knows best andloves more than anything else which is to defend the people's rights in Syria.”For a recent joint action hosted by GCHR and other rights groups, see: http://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1140
“Zaitounehhas been one of the most prominent and effective lawyers defending politicalprisoners in Syria since 2001,” says FIDH President, Karim Lahidji. Zaitounehwas head of the VDC, which is active in monitoring and reporting on humanrights violations in Syria. Human rights organisations believe that theabduction of the four human rights defenders was a direct result of theirpeaceful human rights work. Their ongoing detention forms part of a widerpattern of threats and harassment against human rights defenders by bothgovernment forces and non-state actors.
Justprior to her abduction, Zaitouneh, in a videointerview with FIDH, said, “Nothing, not even our100,000 deaths or harsh siege, or betrayal of the international community canever defeat the will of people who have a dream and faith in the future.”
This birthday campaign for Razan Zaitouneh and hercolleagues is supported by:
Amnesty International Canada
Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID)
FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection ofHuman Rights Defenders
Front Line Defenders
GulfCentre for Human Rights (GCHR)
Institutefor War & Peace Reporting (IWPR)
InternationalMedia Support (IMS)
InternationalService for Human Rights (ISHR)
Lawyers for Lawyers
Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LWRC)
Martin Ennals Foundation
Nazra for Feminist Studies
SyrianNetwork for Human Rights (SNHR)
ViolationsDocumentation Centre (VDC)
WorldOrganisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatoryfor the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
- Urgent Interventions
Abducted human rights lawyer Razan Zaitouneh and her three colleagues must be released unharmed