Enab Baladi Issue # 95 – Sun, Dec. 15, 2013
I met Razan Zeitouna for the first time in a visit to her office on top of the Immigration and Passports Office in Damascus after I got out of prison at the end of 2005 whereby I accompanied some friends, who had also recently been released from prison. We went to thank her for her efforts in defending our cases and supporting our families and encouraging them to demand our release and contact human rights organizations to explain the case fully.
When the Arab Spring started we began increasing communication between each other. Wail Hamada – Razan’s husband was one of the first people we coordinated with for demonstrations and other revolutionary activities in Douma and Daraya. Whoever visited Wail’s home, which always moved due to security reasons, would notice that Razan’s computer constituted a media channel, as though it was a Revolutionary news network spread all over Syrian soil. Due to Razan’s strong belief in her cause, as well as her strong personality – I would occasionally confess, while I was imprisoned during the revolution, that I send information and videos to her, as I was certain that she would accept that and consider it part and parcel of the implications of the Revolution itself. I was also able to make these confessions because she would profess her work in front of Security institutions and Intelligence branches. For over ten years Razan practiced law and defense of human rights in Syria. She would shed light on cases of detainees and the crimes of the regime. She carried out this work until she founded, along with other activists, Local Coordination Committees, which were very active and played a prominent role in transmitting news about the Revolution to the world with credibility and reliability.
After the revolution was militarized and armed activity was predominant, Razan tried very hard not to put the mistakes of the revolutionaries on the same level as the mistakes of the Regime. She approached the formers’ mistakes as an inevitable result of the Regime’s destruction of the Syrian human being – of its barbaric suppression. Her advice was always to address and resolve mistakes in our revolution among ourselves, and not to hasten to exporting them to the media, as the International Community would readily make use of this news and condemn Revolutionary mistakes to the same degree as it condemns the Regime, so revolutionaries would seem on par with the Regime in abuses.
We learnt from Razan to be open to all elements of the Revolution as she set out to communicate with the FSA and give them advice and subsequently attempt to build an army that would be a convincing alternative, both nationally and internationally, to the Assad Army – a new army that was capable of defending Syrian land and people.
Razan received numerous international awards for her substantial activism inside Syria and her refusal to leave the country. She was completely convinced that our efforts need to be among and with the people whereby at the end we would all reach the Syria we dream of, even if our efforts were like carving in stone. When she settled in Eastern Ghouta, namely in Douma, she set up, along with her husband and friends, an organization to support development, agricultural and alternative energy projects in an effort to counter the blockade and enable people to withstand it.
There is no one that defended the political and military activists of the Revolution as much as Razan Zeitouna – as a result of her wide connections both inside and outside Syria. She was the most capable to defend and the most credible. Due to all this, her kidnapping, along with her husband Wail and the poet Nazem Hamady and Samira Khalil, and before them – in Aleppo – the media person Abdul Wahab Mulla and the nurse Samira Kayali, and many others, will send a clear message – however it will be a very wrong message that is not in the interest of the Syrian Revolution at all. The message is that the Free Syrian Army, whom we all considered to be a legitimate alternative to the Regime’s army – and hoped would become the future Army of Syria, was not able to defend our most important activists – in areas it has controlled since over a year and a half ago. A message, in essence says that there is no place for diversity in Syria the land of ten thousand years of civilization and ancient history. Furthermore most people in liberated areas will be overcome with a sense of insecurity. What is certain is that the Regime will be the biggest benefactor of the kidnapping of Razan and her friends as it has got rid of the most internationally reliable voices that constantly haunted the Regime.
Translated by: Tasneem Al-zeer