Dreaming Together: Our Pursuit of Justice

Ten years have passed since the crime of your abduction, and despite the years of enforced absence, your impactful legacy in championing human rights endures within our endeavours at the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM).

Despite the absence of Razan over the past ten years, the Violation Documentation Center in Syria, a project deeply intertwined with your commitment, continues to serve as the cornerstone for numerous legal complaints brought before the judicial authorities in France, Sweden, and Germany. This underscores the profound significance of your tireless efforts and advocacy for human dignity, positioning them at the forefront of the ongoing struggle for justice that Syrians are undertaking in the courts of various countries they have sought refuge in.

We are writing to you for your spirit resonates among us, and your enduring work serves as an unwavering source of inspiration, motivating and propelling us forward. We want to let you know that the team at SCM remains steadfast in the pursuit of the justice you passionately believed in. We are actively constructing a comprehensive database that contains information, evidence, and testimonies from Syrian survivors who have been subjected to violations. These are the very individuals you wholeheartedly dedicated yourself to, facing perilous situations and danger to champion their rights. Your tireless efforts aimed to establish a country where we can all live, where law is upheld, and every citizen is treated equally. 

As we commemorate this anniversary, acknowledging the profound emotional toll it exacts on each of us, we, as human rights defenders, wish to convey our heartfelt appreciation to you. It is through your sacrifices and tireless efforts that we have attained significant accomplishments. We also assert our right to openly articulate the magnitude of our grief, particularly over our colleagues whose struggles continue to serve as a guiding force, fueling our determination to persist in our work.

We would also like to assure you that we continue to be committed to holding those responsible for your disappearance and abduction accountable for their crimes. In the legal proceedings against the leadership of the Jaysh al-Islam militia connected to your disappearance, we await the commencement of the trial before the Criminal Court in Paris. This follows the confirmation by the Investigation Chamber of the Court of Appeal on November 20, 2023, of the militia’s responsibility for your enforced disappearance. This lawsuit -supported by fellow human rights defenders who share the belief in the imperative of revealing the truth for the attainment of justice and accountability- has been initiated with the objective of uncovering your fate.

On a related note, we understand that what we are about to share was an intrinsic component of your dreams to ensure accountability for perpetrators of violations in Syria. This is particularly significant given your firsthand experience as a witness to the incident, being present at the scene during its occurrence. You were the first to collect the initial set of documents, evidence, and testimonies associated with this event. Yes, we are referring to the chemical weapons attacks on Eastern Ghouta in 2013.

Our efforts culminated in a significant milestone on the path to justice, following diligent efforts in gathering evidence and information, engaging with various witnesses, conducting thorough data analysis, and collaborating with both Syrian and international human rights organizations committed to challenging the concept of criminal immunity. Drawing from the testimonies of survivors of the August 2013 attacks, we initiated a criminal case with the French judiciary. Consequently, an investigation was launched into these attacks, leading to the issuance of arrest warrants for Bashar al-Assad, his brother Maher, and two high-ranking Syrian generals.

The fruition of these warrants owes itself to the unwavering commitment and hard work of your colleagues at SCM. Their continuous and earnest endeavours aimed to establish a judicial precedent, serving as a catalyst to hold all those responsible for crimes against Syrians accountable. This outcome stands as a testament to the efforts you initiated at the very moment the crime transpired and your courageous actions in documenting every piece of evidence and information.

It is with deep emotion that we, your colleagues, friends and loved ones, share with you the profound progress resulting from our joint efforts, in collaboration with families, victim associations, and civil society organizations. Our collective endeavor to advocate for the establishment of the Independent Institution on Missing Persons in Syria succeeded, culminating in the decision to form the institution on June 29, 2023. This institution stands as a testament to your vision for a Syria that honors every man and woman, addressing the issue of missing persons with a dedication echoing your own aspirations. It serves to ensure the right of families, including yours, to uncover the fate of their missing loved ones, transcending differences and divisions while combating the crimes of enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention perpetrated by de facto authorities across Syrian territory.

A decade has passed, yet our belief in the long journey towards justice endures. Your courage, the initial strides you took in championing human rights, and your unwavering commitment to combating impunity, regardless of the perpetrator, illuminate the path toward a world where justice and equality prevail. It is a world that aligns with your dream of a Syria free from violations. We continue to dream with you, united in our shared vision for a brighter and more just future.