On past 29 April, too, Razan Zaitouneh's family celebrated her birthday without her, demanding justice and working to make sure the thousands cases like hers will not be forgotten.
Razan is a lawyer and a human rights activist in Syria. In 2005, she founded in Damascus the Syrian Human Rights Information Link, association committed to documenting the violations of human rights in the country. Soon after the beginning of the Arab Spring she founded the local Coordination Committee, the biggest opposition group in the country, that since 2011 held peaceful demonstrations all over the country. She also founded the Centre for the documentation of violations in Syria, an organisation that kept the bodycount of the conflict, retracing who they were and spreading reports about detention conditions in Syria.
Despite the threats she received, Razan kept on committing to the defence of human rights in Syria. on 9 December 2013, though, the young lady was abducted by extremist jihadist groups in Ghuta, an area in the outskirts of Damascus, along with her husband Wael Hammadeh, Samira Khalil and Nazem Hammadi. From then on their whereabouts are unknown and no one has heard of them anylonger.
For her commitment and her great moral value, Razan was awarded with numerous prizes, like the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of thought and the Anna Politkovskaya Award in 2011, as well as the International Women of Courage Award in 2013. Today, Razan is shortlisted for the Martin Ennals Award for the defence of human rights, along with the bloggers of the Ethiopian group Zone 9 and Uighur activist Ilham Tohti.
On 6 March 2015, on European Day of the Righteous, we dedicated a tree and a stone in the Milan Garden of the Righteous to Razan. The ceremony was attended by her sister Rana, who in a moving message reminded us that “refused to run. It was of the utmost importance to her that history record the truth of the revolution, and in order for that to happen, she had to stay in Syria. Razan defended the value of every life. She was determined that no one should be forgotten. I am resolved that she will not be forgotten. With my family, her fellow Syrian activists, and Gariwo, I continue to call for Razan’s immediate and safe release”.
Amnesty International Canada is gathering messages in solidarity or to with Happy Birthday to Razan to be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or to be published here on Facebook), which will be delivered to her family during a vigil in Ottawa on 30 April.