After almost six months since the kidnapping of Razan Zeitounah, Samira Khalil, Wael Hamadah and Nazem Hammadi by masked armed groups in Douma on 9th of December 2013. We, the families and friends of the kidnapped along with a group of independent activists, launch #Douma4 that’s aiming to put pressure on the kidnappers to release them and tell us about their safety and well-being.
Razan, Samira, Wael and Nazem have been living in Ghouta for sometime before they were kidnapped: we’re at the liberated areas at last. Now it’s time for the revolution, us, to build it. They did. Razan was documenting in person the violations committed by the regime and armed groups alike. The regime violations are countless with the war being launched on rebels and citizens with the help of experts and fighters from three or more countries. To some, this makes the violations committed by the revolution small, but Razan refused to adopt such mentality. Violation Documentation Center documents human rights violations. Period. The center takes a political stance towards who’s committing the crimes, that’s why it’s a revolutionary center. What exactly do you mean if you’re a human rights activist and “neutral”? What the hell does that mean?
Razan wrote several articles documenting crimes committed by armed groups in Ghouta. Many international human rights activists don’t dare to enter Syria to document the violations. When they do they escape the shelling, except very small number, I was happy to meet one in my life. Razan lived in the same city of those criminals and published in her real name those violations. That’s one of the reasons why Razan is abducted today. She’s a real believer in human rights. Attacking armed groups claiming to be revolutionary is exactly what a revolutionary does. Who do you think you are, new-comer, to do the thing you do, in the name of my revolution?
But the world doesn’t get it. These crimes are “opposition” crimes since the criteria is not being a revolutionary, but being anti-regime. Syria had many anti-regime personnel and many of them went to prison for years. One of them said-on the day Razan was abducted- that she is not a revolutionary, hence doesn’t deserve support. He was anti-regime for years, but he’s not a revolutionary. He’s a bastard.
Wael is a revolutionary. He supports Razan. Wael is a feminist, maybe more than Razan. Razan is feminist without having anything to do with the feminist discourse. She is a woman of power. People take her seriously even the most dangerous armed groups. Wael was detained three times because of Razan’s role in the revolution. Razan cofounded two centers. Two centers inside Syria while she was on the run inside Damascus, while she was besieged by the regime in Douma. While she survived the chemical attack. Razan co-founded two centers.
Razan managed to do what the activists in diaspora couldn’t do in the first two years. No one reached the world like Razan did. Founding a credible revolutionary and Syrian Human rights center-VDC- by the UN. A media group –LCC– that was identified as a source of information in the first two years on the uprising. Razan did an extraordinary job to Syria and to the world.
Wael knows it very well. He stood by her side, was detained for her, stayed with her and followed her path till the end, because he loves her and believes in her. She called him one “my hero,” on Facebook, the first time he was detained by the regime. I remember Razan’s postings during those days.
I don’t think I know someone in the revolution who is as powerful as Razan. Really. I cannot move on with my life without her being part of me, which is why I personally joined the campaign, it’s not only that I miss her, I also fear her. She will tell me when she gets out: Razan, what did you do to demand my release? I want to tell her I did everything I could. That’s why I joined the campaign. I did everything I could, Razan. Because I too, believe in you.
Nazem is a different story. He’s sweet, very kind, he likes pretty women. He’s shy too in front of them. I remember once I wore a skirt. Some long wide colorful skirt. He was at a friend’s house and I remember him staring at the skirt. He liked it. I smiled at him and said goodbye. Two months later I end up being his flatmate. I was in hiding and I needed a place to stay. He was a typical Syrian male flatmate. He cared so much about cleaning the house for me. I am a woman and I should be in a clean house, for some reason.
I wasn’t so much into cleaning back then like I am today- which is interesting. But Nazem cared, and I had to follow him, unfortunately. I had to clean the bathroom every now and then. He usually brought dinner with him during the night to eat before we sleep. He slept in the bedroom and I slept on a mattress. He tried countless times to switch but I won’t be the guest and a burden. I always woke late, he’s be disappeared to continue with his work at the LCC. He used to have two phones. He was big on security. He was in the Syrian standards back then, too much. But that’s why no one has heard about him before.
Nazem was keeping a low profile for his safety. And now he’s the kidnapped unknown person with Razan and others. He is one of the sweetest guys I’ve ever met and I fear for him a lot, he has the most beautiful smile. He loves olive oil. We lived together for a short while but unique times. We shared the apartment when Damascus was under shelling from the regime for the first time, in July 2012. And all of a sudden the whole city is closed. No one is walking and all cars are parked. Trails of tanks on the streets. Shops are closed and you’re looking for mobile credit, milk and can food. There was no bread left in the neighborhood, a woman gave me some that day. I went back home to find Nazem too with few loaves of bread and when I asked him why didn’t you bring more, he answered: someone out there may have not found bread today, it’s better to take our share only, tomorrow there will be more.
I haven’t seen Samira not once in my life. I saw Wael once with Razan. I saw Razan twice in my life. I lived with Nazem for a month or so. I did not meet Samira but I’ve heard so much about her in the past two years. The first person who told me about her is her friend, Mayada. Mayada is my colleague at the SCM and we’ve been in jail together and in prison together. Mayada, during those prison days and afterwards, spoke highly of Samira. I like Yassin Jaj Saleh, Samira’s husband. He’s one of my favorite persons in the revolution, and I am glad that we sometimes communicate and exchange emails. I sometimes consult him about future plans.
I read about Samira from Yassin’s Facebook. I heard about her from my ex a lot, he loves her and keep saying she’s a kind person and very lovable. Samira is very sociable, loves meeting new people and she always finds a topic with everyone to talk about. That’s what I’ve heard about Samira from people. Samira sometimes “likes” my links and statuses. But once she posted a comment. I wrote about a mouse that was living with me last year in Syria. She commented and said that she left her house in Douma because of a mouse and for that she became “homeless,” as she put it. That she can’t stand them and she recommended me using a poison right away. Back then I was against using poison and was trying to find peaceful ways to coexist with mice. I couldn’t. I eventually killed two mice.
Those are the Douma Four kidnapped by some armed group in Douma. Some armed group that we all know it. That dares to kidnap not just, revolutionaries but also very amazing people. Douma Four is not an online campaign even though it is, it’s a cry for this revolution to believe in itself again. We can say no to these people, these are criminals and we won’t let them be the next tyrant. Not after all this shed of blood.
Syria needs the Douma four. Syria needs all its sons and daughters to be free from any form of injustice. The world is full of stories like the #Douma4, we’re just trying to say who they really are, hoping that you’d join our campaign and call for their freedom.
The world needs them back to believing that being a human rights defender means there’s a whole world talking about them when they’re in danger.
Call for action
Tweet for Zahran Alloush(@zahran1970), the person controlling Douma and whole Ghouta, ask him about #Douma4, where are they? what did Zahran do to save #Douma4? Why wasn’t there ’t an investigation? How dare they think they can get away with this?
1- Write for our blog a letter for Razan, Wael, Nazem and Samira.
2- Send us ideas to develop the campaign
3- Send us your pictures, videos or podcasts to show your support for #Douma4.
4- This is a voluntarily campaign, you’re welcome to volunteer with us.