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Rana Zaitouneh's words

at the Garden of the Righteous of Milan

Rana Zaitouneh unveils the stone dedicated to her sister Razan with Milan's Mayor Giuliano Pisapia

Rana Zaitouneh unveils the stone dedicated to her sister Razan with Milan's Mayor Giuliano Pisapia

"The long road is riddled with obstacles and mines. Only luck determines whether a person crosses it safely. This dark road is lit only by faith and the shattered remains of dreams." -- Razan Zaitouneh

Razan Zaitouneh is a lawyer whose career focused on defending political prisoners, she's a human rights activist dedicated to helping others free themselves from oppression and starvation, and a journalist who relentlessly documents crimes against humanity, ensuring that the tragic fate of these people is delivered to the attention of the rest of the world. But on December 9, 2013, a group of armed cowards decided to silence her. They kidnapped Razan, her husband Wael Hamada, and their two colleagues; Nazem Al Hamadi and Samera Al Khalil. Their kidnapping was an injustice not only to their families, but also to all the Syrians who depend on their bravery, and all the people in the world who desperately seek people like Razan to stand up not only for them, but with them.

My name is Rana, and I am proud to say that Razan Zaitouneh, the inspiring, courageous woman, is my younger sister.

Razan has always believed in peaceful civil protest. It was unsurprising then that even when the violence broke out in March 2011, she continued to push for peaceful resolutions, refusing to stand by while protesters were being viciously suppressed by the regime. She also 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.

She reported the kidnapping, unlawful arrest, torture, and murder of peaceful protestors. She compiled lists of the detained and the disappeared. She worked relentlessly to bring awareness to the world and freedom to her people.

But Razan didn't work alone. Her struggle to bring freedom to Syrians was shared by many of her friends, including longtime activists like Mazen Darwish and Yahya Shurbaji, bloggers like Hussein Ghrer, and ordinary people who chose to stand up when the violence threatened to destroy them. It was the everyday people who most touched her heart, their bravery astonishing and inspiring. One of these people was a handsome young man from Daraya, a pacifist who tore a piece of her heart the day he was made a martyr.

Ghayath Mattar was a symbol for the youth of Syria; an intelligent and successful businessman whose only crime was a gesture of peace. In the midst of the revolution's demonstrations in the beginning of the uprising, Ghayath offered roses and drinking water to the army recruits who would later detain and tortured him to death in the most brutal way.

His death was a dark cloud over the heads of all those who dared to desire peace, including Razan, whose tears caused my own heart to ache for a brave young man I had never met, but rather than deter them, his death spurred them on, making the quest for peace even more vital than before.

Razan has been missing for over a year now, and yet, she continues to make an impact, inspiring others to stand against their oppressors in the quest for freedom. Razan became a lawyer to defend the ideals she valued most – justice, peace, and truth. Her allegiance is to freedom – freedom from oppression and freedom from fear. And now her own freedom has been taken. Her voice has been silenced.

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.

9 March 2015

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The European Day of Righteous

The value of individuals and personal responsibility

On May 10, the European Parliament in Strasbourg adopted the Written Declaration establishing March 6th as European Day in memory of the Righteous.
The concept of Righteous, born from the elaboration of the Yad Vashem Memorial to remember the non-Jews who rescued the Jews, becomes the patrimony of all humanity.
The term "Righteous" is no longer confined to the Holocaust only; it becomes a point of reference for those who remember the genocide and totalitarianism in all their efforts to defend human dignity.

The significance of this decision is reminiscent of one of the cornerstones of European culture: the value of the individual and personal responsibility.


Interview with Rana Zaitouneh

for European Day of the Righteous

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