Tag Archives: Syria

Syria: Razan Zeitouneh and the #Douma4

September 5, 2018

Syrian activist and documenter of rights violations Razan Zeitouneh – outspoken, courageous, impartial, and secular – was kidnapped on 9 December 2013, alongside her husband, Wa’el Hamade, and colleagues Samira Al Khalil and Nazem Al Hamadi. The four, since called ‘The Douma Four’, after the city in Eastern Ghouta in which they were working, have been missing ever since.

Years before the 2011 Syrian revolution, the name of Razan Zeitouneh was well-known within activist circles in Syria.

In 2005, she founded the bilingual (Arabic and English) website Syrian Human Rights Information Link (SHRIL), which became one of the earliest sources documenting human rights abuses by Syrian regime forces when the revolution started in 2011.

Her activism had already resulted in a travel ban in 2002, just two years after Bashar Assad took over from his father, Hafez.

Despite threats and ongoing risks, Zeitouneh did not want to leave Syria. In a 2005 interview, she stated “I will never leave this country – never”. She also said that she was psychologically prepared to be arrested at any moment, adding “I’m not afraid”.

Shortly after the initial 2011 protests, Zeitouneh co-founded the Local Coordination Committees (LCCs) to help organise demonstrations and document the protests as well as the brutal crackdown inflicted upon protesters by regime forces.

Then, in June of that year, she co-founded the Violations Documentation Center in Syria (VDC) to help document “all kinds of human rights violations in Syria”.




https://es.globalvoices.org/2018/08/16/cuatro-mujeres-cuatro-iconos-de-la-revolucion-siria/ (ESPANOL)

https://el.globalvoices.org/2018/09/47416 (GREEK)


Syria: No remains of the human rights activist Razan Zaytuna were found within a mass grave in the Eastern Ghouta and the mystery surrounds her husband’s fate along with confirmation of a former fighter that she was alive until last year

August 9, 2018

The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Rif Dimashq Province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights obtained information from several reliable sources that the regime forces have found a mass grave in the Eastern Ghouta, and in the details documented by the Syrian Observatory: the regime forces found a mass grave in al-Shifonyyah area in the countryside of Douma in the Eastern Ghouta, which includes remains believed to belong to members of the regime forces and Hezbollah, and the sources confirmed to the Observatory that the regime forces did not begin yet the process of exhumation from this mass grave, which is located in an area contains the largest headquarters of Jaysh al-Islam, where the graves include remains of the Lebanese Hezbollah members who were killed in late 2013, when a violent clashes erupted between Jaysh al-Islam against the regime forces, the Lebanese Hezbollah, and the gunmen loyal to them back then.

In the same context, reliable sources confirmed to the Syrian Observatory that the current news about finding the body of the Syrian activist Razan Zaytuna within the discovered mass grave is false, where she was kidnapped by a group of Jaysh Islam led by one of its security commanders, in the Eastern Ghouta by unknown gunmen in the first third of December 2013, while one of the former members of Rahman Corps confirmed that in 2017 he had entered a special prison of Jaysh al-Islam on the outskirts of Douma city, and he had seen writings on a prison wall signed by the name of Razan Zaytuna, and that date was not far from the date of his entry to the prison, while the fate of her husband Wael Hamada is surrounded by mystery, where information reported his murder by Jaysh al-Islam in 2014.



Syria: ‘A person who believed’: Remembering Razan Zaitouneh on her 41st birthday

April 29, 2018

One by one, prisoners exited government buses into a packed auditorium in Damascus earlier this month. Many of the detainees, formerly held by an Islamist rebel faction in East Ghouta, were set to rejoin their family and friends for the first time in years.

Jaish al-Islam, a once-powerful armed group in the suburbs east of Damascus, surrendered the city of Douma to the Syrian government in mid-April. As part of the deal, the rebels agreed to release all detainees they had accumulated over the past seven years.

For Suad Khabeia and other Syrian activists, the April 8 prisoner release in Damascus was the last glimmer of hope that they might see disappeared civil society activist Razan Zaitouneh again.

But although Jaish al-Islam had long boasted of holding thousands of prisoners, only 200 people were released before the faction’s fighters left for northern Syria alongside thousands of civilians earlier this month.

Zaitouneh, a Syrian lawyer and human rights advocate who gained international recognition for her civil society work in the wake of the 2011 Syrian revolution, was not among them.  

“Hope has withered away for most people,” Khabeia tells Syria Direct’s Noura al-Hourani from her home in Cairo, Egypt. Khabeia met Zaitouneh at a demonstration in Damascus in 2001 and worked with her for years before leaving Syria.

Zaitouneh founded the Violations Documentation Center (VDC) in April 2011—just after mass anti-government protests began in Syria—to track and report human rights abuses in the country by all parties.

Then, On December 9, 2013, masked gunmen raided the offices of the VDC in Douma and kidnapped four of its members: Zaitouneh, her husband Wael Hamada, Samira al-Khalil and Nazim Hamadi.  

Collectively known as the “Douma Four,” the kidnapped activists were never heard from again. Zaitouneh’s family—along with many other activists and humanitarian organizations—hold Jaish al-Islam responsible for the kidnappings, a claim that the rebel group categorically denies.

Today, on what would be Razan Zaitouneh’s 41st birthday—more than four years after the disappearance of the Douma Four—Khabeia reflects on her friend and colleague’s legacy.



https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Razan_Zaitouneh (FRANCAIS)

Syria: Four prominent activists were abducted in Syria. Their fate may now become clear

April 13, 2018

As the battle front shifted in recent days in a ravaged eastern suburb of Damascus, relatives of four human rights activists abducted there in late 2013 saw cause for hope: Might the transfer from opposition to government control of Douma provide clues to their fate?

The abduction of the two men and two women known as the Douma 4 — by Islamist rebels active in the area, their families say — was an ominous milestone in Syria’s cataclysmic war. It signaled the rise of armed Islamist groups that came to dominate the opposition while casting aside, often brutally, civilian activists who had helped coordinate the revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s iron-fisted rule.

And the kidnapping was a high-profile reminder of the thousands of other Syrians who have disappeared, sometimes without a trace, over more than seven years of war. Relatives said that since the abduction on Dec. 9, 2013, they have had no solid information about the four: Razan Zaitouneh, Wael Hamadeh, Samira Khalil and Nazem Hammadi.

Rumors materialized and then dissolved. Enticing stories told by Islamist defectors could never be confirmed. “From time to time, we hear yes, they are okay, they are there, or they were given to the regime,” said Khalil’s husband, Yassin al-Haj Saleh. “We don’t really know if the information is true. It’s possible,” he said.

On Monday, as news of the prisoner releases circulated, the relatives grasped at every report.

“Yesterday, they released about 200 detainees,” said Zaitouneh’s sister, Reem Zaitouneh, who lives in Canada. “We are trying to get the names. We are trying to reach some people there. We hope they can find some news,” she said.

Her sister, a human rights lawyer, is a singularly revered figure in opposition circles, a woman who had defended dissidents in state security courts in the years before the revolt and then recorded war crimes and other violations by the government as well as its armed opponents after the uprising exploded into war.

She was a founder of the Violation Documentation Center as well as the Local Coordination Committees, a network that coordinated and documented anti-government protests and tallied the costs of the conflict.






http://www.lemonde.fr/syrie/article/2018/04/13/la-ghouta-tombeau-de-la-revolution-syrienne_5285063_1618247.html (FRANCAIS)

http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=240148 (ESPANOL)

https://www.panorama.it/news/esteri/siria-sette-anni-dopo-cosa-resta-del-movimento-non-violento/ (ITALIANO)

http://www.marchenews24.it/la-guerra-non-e-donna-voci-dalla-siria-con-asmae-dachan-18965.html (ITALIANO)

https://www.rtp.pt/noticias/mundo/os-quatro-de-douma-continuam-desaparecidos_n1069762 (PORTUGUES)

Syria: Regional: On International Women’s Day, GCHR honours women’s rights defenders in the Gulf and neighbouring countries

March 8, 2018

On International Women’s Day, marked annually on 08 March, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) honours Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) in the region and beyond. While remembering those who passed away, we celebrate those who continue the struggle. We stand in solidarity with their efforts while renewing our commitment to provide any possible support to WHRDs in the Gulf region and neighbouring countries to carry out their activism.

In 2018, women all over the world are still demanding their basic rights to equal participation and representation politically, socially and economically. Despite experiencing a severe backlash from state and non-state actors and other components of society, WHRDs and feminist groups and their organisations are becoming stronger. Demanding their rights, challenging stereotypes and raising awareness through physical and online campaigns.

Women continue to be at the forefront of human rights struggles in areas of conflict such as Iraq, Yemen and Syria. They are continuously being subjected to other layers of discrimination, segregation and gender-based targeting to weaken their determination, increase their vulnerability, shake their confidence and threaten their security. However, this has never succeeded in deterring them from defending their rights and the rights of others.


In Syria, and precisely from Eastern Ghouta, Razan Zaitouneh, the head of the Violations Documentation Centre in Syria (VDC), winner of the 2011 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought and the 2011 Anna Politkovskaya Award of RAW in WAR (Reach All Women In War), remains enforceably disappeared for the fourth year, along with her three colleagues from VDC, including WHRD Samira Al-Khalil.




http://www.liberation.fr/planete/2018/03/01/syrie-on-n-a-observe-aucun-tir-sur-les-couloirs-humanitaires-depuis-leur-mise-en-place-dans-la-ghout_1633148 (FRANCAIS)

http://www.lemonde.fr/livres/article/2017/10/26/a-la-recherche-de-razan-zaitouneh-icone-syrienne_5206070_3260.html (FRANCAIS)

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Razan_Zaitouneh (FRANCAIS)

http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=238488 (ESPANOL)

Saudi Arabia/Iran/Syria: MENA: Participants at Gulf and Neighbouring Platform call for immediate release of all detained human rights defenders in the Middle East

January 24, 2018

On 22 January 2018, partners of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) called for the release of all detained human rights defenders in the Middle East. At the event, hosted in Beirut by GCHR and Media Association for Peace (MAP), human rights defenders were joined by Michel Forst, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders, and representatives of Front Line Defenders, FIDH, CIVICUS and Amnesty International to make the public call to free their colleagues.

Host Khalid Ibrahim, GCHR’s Executive Director, mentioned some of the many human rights defenders jailed across the region, including GCHR’s two co-founders Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and Nabeel Rajab in Bahrain, and GCHR Advisory Board member Ahmed Mansoor, jailed in the United Arab Emirates since March 2017. He noted that just as GCHR was being founded, Al-Khawaja was arrested, tortured and jailed in April 2011. He’s serving a life sentence for his peaceful human rights activities. Rajab is also serving a two-year sentence and facing up to 15 years in another trial on 21 February.

Ibrahim also noted other cases from the Gulf region and neighbouring countries, including in Syria of Razan Zaitouneh, Samira Al-Khail, Wa’el Hamadeh, Nazem Hammadi, Khalil Ma’touq and Mohamed Thatha. He mentioned some of the many dozens of human rights defenders jailed in Saudi Arabia, including Dr. Mohammed Al-Qahtani, Issa Al-Nukheifi, Essam Koshak, Walid Abu Al-Khair and Raif Badawi. In Oman, Internet activist Hassan Al-Basham is in jail, and in Kuwait, Sulaiman Bin Jassim was sentenced to seven years. In Iran, there are also many human rights defenders serving long sentences such as Narges Mohammadi, Atena Daemi and Dr. Abdolfattah Soltani. There are many others in Bahrain including Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace.





http://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1774 (ARABIC)

Syria/Germany: Syrian torture survivors speak out

December 21, 2017

Image result for human rights lawyer Anwar al-Bunni

Euronews reporter Hans von der Brelie speaks with Syrian victims of torture who are seeking justice in Germany.

“My wrists were bound together with iron chains,” said the man who calls himself Abu Firas. “They put me onto an iron bar under the ceiling so that my feet were two centimetres above the floor.”

“They hung me on my hands from the ceiling,” Abdul Karim Rihawi told Euronews.“They beat me with an iron stick.”

“My finger felt like it was the size of a football,” said Yazan Awad. “I felt my arms were very long because my shoulders became dislocated (by this torture). I looked and saw my arms far away. “

Sometimes, when emotions run high, Nahla Osman takes her clients for a walk alongside the river Main. Osman was born in Germany to parents from the Syrian city of Aleppo. She helps victims of torture. She and her brother run a law firm in the German city of Rüsselsheim.

She has compiled hundreds of witness reports detailing torture on a massive scale inside Syrian prisons and will file criminal complaints using the principle of universal jurisdiction which Germany enforces.

Next, we headed to an organisation tracking war criminals around the globe: the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights where we met prominent Syrian human rights lawyer Anwar al-Bunni, and Syrian civil rights activist Yazan Awad, both torture survivors.







http://fr.euronews.com/2017/12/21/tortures-en-syrie-ils-reclament-justice-en-allemagne (FRANCAIS)

http://arabic.euronews.com/2017/12/21/syria-torture-victims-seek-justice-in-european-courts (ARABIC)

https://www.twreporter.org/a/bloody-syria-human-right-lawyer (CHINESE)