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Syria: freedom for Razan, Samira, Wa'el and Nazim

the appeal by 32 NGOs for the kidnapped activists

Razan Zaitouneh, Samira Al-Khalil, Wa'el Hamada and Nazim Hammadi, the four human rights defenders, kidnapped by an armed group in Douma, near Damascus, December 9, 2013, should be released immediately.

It's the appeal launched by 32 human rights organizations in the third anniversary of the attack against the Violations Documentation Center (VDC) in Syria, which ended with the kidnapping of Razan Zaitouneh, head of the center, her husband Wa'el Hamada, and the colleagues Samira Al- Khalil and Nazem Hamadi. No news about them has been received since three years, says the statement signed by Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW) and other 30 Middle East and international organizations (text attached herewith).

Razan Zaitouneh, lawyer, activist and journalist, committed since 2001 in defense of political prisoners in Syria, played a key role in supporting independent groups and Syrian activists after the war broke out in 2011 by coordinating local committees in various cities of the country. In 2015 Razan was titled a tree in the Garden of the Righteous Worldwide at Monte Stella in Milan, upon initiative of Gariwo, which supported the appeal of Rana Zaitouneh, Razan's sister, for the release of Razan and the other three kidnapped.

Wa'el Hamada, also an activist before 2011 and co-founder of the Local Coordination Committees and the VDC, dedicated himself to humanitarian assistance to the residents of the area of Ghouta under siege.

Samira Khalil, for years engaged as an activist and therefore arrested by the Syrian government between 1987 and 1991, worked with the families of the detainees reporting about the conditions of prisoners and helped women in Douma to implement the initiatives for sustaining themselves economically.

Nazim Hammadi, lawyer and poet, defender of political prisoners before and after the revolt of 2011, contributed to the creation of the Local Coordination Committees and fought to protect the rights of the inhabitants of the Ghouta area.

The armed groups de facto controlling Douma include the Army of Islam, part of the Islamic Front coalition. These groups "should immediately release the four human rights defenders, if they are in the groups' custody, or work to ensure they are released unharmed and without delay. Countries that support these groups, as well as religious leaders and others who may have influence over them, should also press for the immediate release of the four activists and for an end to abductions of civilians", says the appeal of the organizations.

12 December 2016

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