Tag Archives: Syria

Syria: We remember Razan, Samira, Nazem and Wa’el five years after their kidnapping

December 7, 2018

On 09 December, people around the world rememberRazan ZaitounehSamira KhalilNazem Hamadi and Wa’el Hamada, kidnapped in Douma, Syria on this day five years ago. We, the undersigned human rights organisations, call on the United Nations, international and regional actors, and all parties to the Syrian conflict to actively facilitate an investigation into what happened to the four human rights defenders. They are among many Syrians who have been kidnapped, jailed, murdered or exiled for their peaceful human rights activities. We ask all friends and supporters to help remember Zaitouneh and her colleagues by sharing her work.

On 09 December 2013, a group of armed men presumed to be connected to the Army of Islam, a large local rebel faction at the time, broke into the Violations Documentation Centre (VDC) office in Douma city, kidnapped the four human rights defenders and took them to an unknown destination. According to unconfirmed reports, the Army of Islam kept captives, including possibly the VDC staff, at Tawbeh Prison for some time, but it has since been abandoned following the armed group’s departure from Douma in 2017.

Zaitouneh has published dozens of articles and reports on various websites and in newspapers about human rights including freedom of opinion and expression in Syria since 2004. In order to keep her work in the spotlight, her family has now published a website with a collection of her articles, as well as testimonies from people who admire her and worked with her.

Zaitouneh is one of the most prominent human rights defenders in Syria and along with other activists established the VDC, among several human rights NGOs that she helped found. She has played a key role in the promotion and protection of human rights through her brave work as a lawyer, human rights defender and journalist.

https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/2008?fbclid=IwAR0t28C3WsWWe7F-EuSdeWqQyq_qF7BP39hv07De5jiflyTAyGJ5ZKdrGjs

https://www.ifex.org/international/2018/11/15/day-imprisoned-writer/

https://pen-international.org/news/syria-remember-razan-samira-nazem-and-wael-five-years-after-their-kidnapping

https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2018/8/13/razan-zaitouneh-more-clues-in-search-for-syrian-lawyer

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/waiting-douma-181208095945739.html

http://www.razanwzaitouneh.com/about

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Razan_Zaitouneh

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

https://www.ifex.org/international/2018/11/15/day-imprisoned-writer/es/ (ESPANOL)

https://www.elmundo.es/internacional/2018/11/25/5bf9a57de5fdea3b368b4587.html (ESPANOL)

https://www.freitag.de/autoren/flegel/eine-revolution-adoptieren (DEUTSCH)

Image result for razan zaitouneh

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Syria/PEN: 15 novembre • Solidarité avec les plumes réduites au silence

le 4 novembre, 2018

écrivains auteurs

Les journées mondiales se succèdent et rien ne change. Elles n’en sont pas moins utiles pour autant, dès lors où elles sont de réels temps forts pour la solidarité et la réflexion, et non des alibis récurrents pour s’exonérer des résistances quotidiennes.

La “Journée mondiale des écrivains en prison” qu’est-ce donc  ?

Cette journée est organisée depuis 1981 afin d’attirer l’attention mondiale sur des écrivainEs et des journalistes dont le travail leur attire des représailles.

Il n’y a pas si longtemps, le 10 novembre 1995 très exactement, l’écrivain nigérian Ken Saro Wiwa a été pendu pour avoir défendu les droits de son ethnie minoritaire dans une région d’agriculture et de pêche spoliée et dévastée par l’exploitation pétrolière. Ses convictions l’avaient amené à plaider jusque devant la Commission des Droits de l’Homme.

EcrivainEs en danger

Le 15 novembre a lieu la Journée pour les Écrivains en prison, organisée par une dizaine de milliers de membres du P.E.N. International. Pour mémoire, fondée en 1921, l’association mondiale de poètes, de romancierEs et de journalistes s’engage à défendre la libre circulation des idées entre toutes les nations, à promouvoir une littérature sans frontières et à s’opposer à toute restriction de la liberté d’expression. Au siège du P.E.N. International à Londres, le Comité des Ecrivains emprisonnés avait recensé 775 cas de femmes et d’hommes de lettres persécutés et réprimés pour délit d’opinion pendant le premier semestre de l’an 2003 par exemple. Nombre d’entre eux ont été arrêtés, torturés, emprisonnés ou contraints à l’exil. 22 personnes ont été tuées ou assassinées, 13 portées disparues. Le Comité a établi une liste non exhaustive des Etats à haut risque: Algérie, Bangladesh, Chine, Cuba, Iran, Birmanie, Syrie, Turquie, Vietnam… Depuis quinze ans, la liste des Pays et ces cas a explosé en courbe exponentielle

Aussi, cette Journée pour les EcrivainEs en prison, est-elle au fil des années devenue un moment fort de solidarité et de soutien envers touTEs les écrivainEs victimes de l’intolérance et de la dictature, sans oublier leurs familles harcelées, intimidées ou menacées, qui n’empêche pas un soutien continu et actif.

Réduire les gens de lettres au silence, briser leur plume, confisquer et brûler leurs œuvres, c’est la pire des tortures.

Cette année, PEN présente les cas de :

  • Cesario Alejandro Félix Padilla Figueroa, membre de PEN et militant, risque d’être poursuivi en justice au Honduras
  • Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, blogueur purgeant une peine de 10 ans de prison au Viet Nam
  • Ramón Esono Ebalé, caricaturiste et militant primé, actuellement détenu en Guinée équatoriale
  • Razan Zaitouneh, défenseur des droits de l’homme, blogueur et avocat a disparu en Syrie

http://www.kedistan.net/2018/11/04/15-novembre-journee-solidarite-ecrivains/

https://pen-international.org/fr/c%C3%A9l%C3%A9brer-la-litt%C3%A9rature

https://globalvoices.org/2018/08/09/four-women-icons-of-the-syrian-revolution/ (ENGLISH)

https://www.ifex.org/syria/2018/09/05/razan-zeitouneh-douma-four/ (ENGLISH)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Razan_Zaitouneh (ENGLISH)

https://pen-international.org/celebrating-literature (ENGLISH)

https://www.bndestem.nl/opinie/steun-de-strijd-van-de-arabische-peerkes~a7a44afd/ (NEDERLANDS)

Syria: Human rights lawyer Yasser Al-Saleem arrested

September 24, 2018

In the early hours of the morning on 22 September 2018, an armed group stormed the home of human rights lawyer Yasser Al-Saleem in Kafr Nabl, located in Idlib governate in Syria, and arrested him with activist Abdelhamid Al-Bayoush, who was visiting him.

Subsequent reports indicated that they were taken to Al-Eqab prison in the Jabal Al-Zawiya area, located about 40km south-west of the governorate capital, Idlib city, but the reason for the arrests was not made public.

Al-Saleem has worked effectively carrying out peaceful human rights activities in the city of Kaft Nabl, and has recently been calling for the release of detainees and abductees. The day before his arrest, he participated in demonstrations that took place in the city of Kafr Nabl on 21 September 2018 which called for the release of citizens of the city of Sweida, who were kidnapped by Da’esh recently.

https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1951

http://www.syriahr.com/en/?p=103087

https://maps.southfront.org/hayat-tahrir-al-sham-arrests-prominent-opposition-activist-linked-to-anti-assad-protests-in-idlib/

https://www.ifex.org/syria/2018/09/24/lawyer-al-saleem-arrested/

https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1952 (ARABIC)

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://www.ifex.org/syria/2018/09/05/razan-zeitouneh-douma-four/?utm_source=whatcounts&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=itw_13sep18_test

https://globalvoices.org/2018/08/09/four-women-icons-of-the-syrian-revolution/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Razan_Zaitouneh

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.

http://www.syriahr.com/en/?p=100015

https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/syria/syria-s-top-human-rights-activist-disappeared-and-no-one-knows-why-1.6367778

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.

http://syriadirect.org/news/%E2%80%98a-person-who-believed%E2%80%99-remembering-razan-zaitouneh-on-her-41st-birthday/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Razan_Zaitouneh

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.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/four-prominent-activists-were-abducted-in-syria-their-fate-may-now-become-clear/2018/04/12/c4406858-3c28-11e8-955b-7d2e19b79966_story.html?utm_term=.5562a4c716b8

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/syrian-opposition-facing-down-a-brutal-regime-and-islamic-extremism/2018/03/23/702107ea-1b36-11e8-ae5a-16e60e4605f3_story.html?utm_term=.14672c94ca79

https://english.enabbaladi.net/archives/2018/04/adra-al-umaleahs-hostages-are-also-victims/

https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/04/09/friends-syria-action-needed-brussels-conference

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Razan_Zaitouneh

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)