Today, 9th December marks the eighth painful anniversary of the abduction of human rights defenders, our coworker and lawyer Razan Zeitouna, the political activist Samira Khalil, as well as activist Wael Hamadah, and the poet and lawyer Nazem Hamday; where the joint office, of the Violations Documentation Center in Syria, Local Development and Small ProfjectsSupport Office, and “Tle’na Al Hurrieh” Journal, was subject to a raid by a masked military group, who abducted the four activists and led them to an unknown destination. Although all military factions have left the area after Syrian regime forces took control in 2018, the fate and whereabouts of the four colleagues remain unknown till today.
The four abductees were committed to supporting the victims of human rights violations, whoever they were. As Razan Said once: “the people’s rights and fair treatment are inexplicable, and not a point of view.” The efforts of the kidnapped colleagues have been instrumental in documenting the violations that occurred in Syria in general, and Eastern Ghouta in particular. Without their efforts, it would not have been possible to prepare the files to pursue judicial trials on the regime’s use of chemical weapons in the 2013 attack on Ghouta and to begin the process of prosecuting criminals who committed it in France, Germany, and Sweden.
Despite all the efforts made by the families and friends of the four kidnapped, as well as by jurists who are commited ot revealing the truth and reaching justice and accountability, including the filing criminal judicial complaint against some of the Army of Islam’s leaders, the main suspected armed group of the kidnapping; Unfortunately, the international and diplomatic actions by international parties and governments, directly involved in the Syrian issue, some of which have some influence over military factions, and can put considerable pressure on them, remains below expectations. The efforts of politicians, diplomats and representatives of these countries have been limited to statements and public condemnations that have not helped reveal the abductees’ fate.
In time, the efforts of human rights organizations continue to seek the truth and justice and to hold accountable the perpetrators of the crimes against humanity in Syria; several de facto authorities in Syria, continue to pursue policies of abduction, involuntary disappearance and arbitrary detention, aimed to hide their crimes, or at intimidating victims and witnesses, or at questioning judicial proceedings targeting those involved.
On this painful anniversary, as the employees of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, we reassure our full commitment to defending human rights, whoever the violators are, and to seeking justice for the four abductees and thousands of involuntarily disappeared or arbitrarily detained in Syria. We continue to work to reveal their fate in every possible way. We will continue to defend the rights of all Syrians to reach justice and accountability and to fight impunity for anyone who is the perpetrator and whoever is the victim, as we believe it is the major prerequisite for the building of a democratic State, governed by law, based on the separation of powers, and the protection of human rights and citizenship in Syria.