Occupation: Human rights activist
Current Situation: Abducted, along with her colleagues, since December
Razan Zaitouneh was born in 1977. She has been one of the most prominent lawyers and human rights activists defending political prisoners in Syria since 2001. She has played a key role in efforts to defend human rights for all people and protect independent groups and Syrian activists. Along with a number of other activists, Zaitouneh established the Violations Documentation Center in Syria (VDC), and co-founded in April 2011 the Local Coordination Committees (LCCs), which co-ordinate the work of local committees in various cities and towns across Syria. She also established the Local Development and Small Projects Support Office, which assists non-governmental organizations in Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus.
At the start of the Syrian uprising, Zaitouneh was forced into hiding owing to her media activism, so as to convey the truth and what is happening on the ground to the various media outlets, especially the violations (detention, torture,killing, and harassment) committed against citizens.
Zaitouneh’s home located in Damascus was stormed, in May 2011, by the Air Force Intelligence, which searched the house and confiscated many of her papers and personal belongings. The Air Force Intelligence, then, detained Razan’s brother-in-law together with her husband, activist Wa’el Hammada, who both had been held incommunicado for three months before being released.
Zaitouneh published dozens of articles and reports, in different websites and newspapers, on the situation of human rights as well as freedom of opinion and expression in Syria since 2004. She won the Anna Politkovskaya Award, which is given to a woman human rights defender. Jointly with the Syrian cartoonist Ali Farzat, Zaitouneh was also awarded the “Sakharov” Prize for Freedom of Thought, granted by the European Parliament.
Several months prior to her abduction, Zaitouneh wrote about the threats she had been receiving, and informed human rights activists outside Syria that they originated from local armed groups in Duma.
In the morning of 9 December, 2013, a group of the “Army of Islam” that is headed by Zahran Alloush raided the office of the VDC, and kidnapped Razan Zaitouneh alongside her colleagues, activists Wa’el Hamadeh, Samira Khalil, and Nazem Hammadi, who were, afterwards, taken to unknown place.
What can you do:
1- Write to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders at:
2- Publish images of human rights activist “Razan Zaitouneh” as well as some information about her on your Facebook & Twitter accounts using the hashtag #حريتهم_حقهم
3- Send to the newspapers of your country some information about Razan Zaitouneh calling for her release, and pressurizing her abductors into setting her free.
4- KSA is among the countries that support the armed groups in Duma, therefore post to Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud via his Twitter account “@KingSalman” demanding him to release Razan Zaitouneh.