CITIZENS OF THE WORLD CALL FOR THE RELEASE OF ATTORNEY RAZAN ZAITOUNEH AND OTHER HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS CAPTURED IN WAR-TORN SYRIA
Paris & Geneva, December 19, 2013
The Association of World Citizens (AWC) calls for the immediate release of Ms. Razan Zaitouneh, a Syrian human rights lawyer, and three other Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) – Mr. Wael Hamada, Mr. Nazem Hamadi, and Ms. Samira Khalil, who were kidnapped by unknown assailants ten days ago.
On December 9, 2013, the four HRDs were abducted by masked armed men and taken to unknown whereabouts from the premises of the Center for Documenting Human Rights Violations in Syria, located in Douma.
Ms. Razan Zaitouneh has tirelessly defended the rights of political prisoners in Syria. When the revolution, initially a nonviolent one, started in 2011 she founded the “local coordination committees”. That year she received the Anna Politkovskaya award “RAW (Reach All Women) in WAR”.
Also active as a journalist, Ms. Razan Zaitouneh has been monitoring and reporting war crimes and human rights violations in Syria. Earlier this year she received the International Women of Courage Award for her outstanding work and efforts.
Since December 9 no one has claimed responsibility for the abduction, which took place in a zone where all parties to the conflict are represented, making it impossible to know for sure who the kidnappers were working for.
The one thing we know for sure is that, whoever they are, the kidnappers committed a war crime by deliberately abducting civilians in a context of armed conflict, especially HRDs who are specially protected under international human rights law.
Consequently, the AWC demands the immediate release of the four Syrian HRDs.