One of the most powerful voices for Syrian human rights has been silenced for nearly six months. Iconic activist Razan Zaitouneh and three of her colleagues were abducted Dec. 9 in Douma, a city outside Damascus under the control of a number of armed opposition groups.
The abduction of Zaitouneh, Wa’el Hamada, Samira Khalil, and Nazem Hamadi is clouded in mystery as no group has come forward to claim responsibility. But Amnesty International and 44 other international organizations joined together this week to ask Zahran Alloush, commander of Jaysh al-Islam, one of the most influential groups controlling the Douma area, to help ensure Razan and her colleagues are released safely.
The four activists were seized by armed men from their office of the Violations Documentation Center (VDC).
The following day, the VDC issued a statement saying:
“We also hold all armed groups operating in the area accountable for the safety and safeguard of the Ghouta inhabitants and Razan and her colleagues. We hold them accountable as well for the safe release of Razan and her colleagues and their safe return to their homes.”
There are several ways you can help:
Amnesty International has organized a Twitter campaign, writing Zahran Alloush with the message:
@zahran1970 what is jaysh al-islam doing in #Duma to set free #RazanZaitouneh & her colleagues? #freerazan
More action can also be taken on the case on the Free Syrian Voices website.
In the above video, which was recorded five days before her abduction, Razan Zaitouneh recounts the humanitarian and human rights horrors she has documented in Syria. Her eloquent words have kept hope alive throughout the great violence of the past three years, doing so despite threats from both the government and armed opposition groups.
Her work earned her 2011 Anna Politkovskaya Award, which is given to a woman human rights defender standing up for victims in a conflict zone.
Syria needs her voice to be heard again.