What #Douma4 Means to Me

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.

1Razan, 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? Continue reading

UPDATED: Revolutionary and Blogger Marcel Shehwaro Detained and Released

Marcel Shehwaro at Bloggers' Meeting 2013

Marcel Shehwaro at Bloggers’ Meeting 2013

First she was kidnapped by a Aleppo Brigade.

Time: an hour ago around 5ish PM Syria time today 17th March 2014.

Place: Jisr Al-Haj Square, Aleppo.

Reason: refusing to wear the veil.

Activist Mohammad Khalili detained with her.

Right now: she was transferred to a court common i liberated areas called Hai’a Shar3iya. They’re both detained there.

Marcel gave her Facebook credentials to a friend and posted the message below (translated by Joseph Dhaher):

—Beginning of the message —
I am Marcell Shehwaro
I am detained by the Sharia’ Council because of not wearing the veil in the liberated areas
This is the story as it happens:
We were with a youth group involved in a revolutionary activity at the Jisr Al-Haj square
The activity was consisting of putting photos of the martyrs of the revolution in Aleppo and planting trees at the roundabout
Then a leader of the Army of the Mujahideen called Abu Hussanein came and asked me to wear the veil because this area was under the control of the Mujahideen Army. Continue reading

Oday Tayem, Son of the Two Intifadas

Oday Tayem, a great Palestinian revolutionary from Yarmouk, still detained by the regime and no information about him ever since his detention on 29th August 2013.

Random Shelling قصف عشوائي


On 29 August 2013, Syrian security forces arrested Palestinian-Syrian activist Oday Tayem after raiding his house in Jaramana, a regime-controlled suburb southeast of Damascus. In the five months following his incommunicado detention, attempts by Oday’s family members and friends to know the specific security branch where he is being held have failed.

Born on 12 May 1993 south of the Syrian capital in al-Yarmouk Refugee Camp, Oday is the eldest of three brothers. His father is a refugee from the ethnically-cleansed village of al-Shajara, near Tiberias, and his mother’s family was displaced from Kafr Kanna, a town near Nazareth, in the 1948 nakba.

When the Second Palestinian Intifada broke out, a group of Palestinians and Syrians set up a protest tent in Arnous Square in central Damascus to express solidarity with their brethren in occupied Palestine. Oday was as young as seven at the time, but he regularly participated…

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Declaration of a Shared Fate

There are two areas in Syria in which people are actually dying from starving. People are dying because there is nothing on the shelves of their kitchen. The kids keep telling their parents: I am hungry, mom!
This is the “resistance” Arabs Left are fighting for: starving Palestinians to death!
Sign and share widely.

Beyond Compromise - الثَّوابِت

We, the undersigned, in accordance with our belief in the shared fate of the Syrian and Palestinian people, and our wish for the unity of Syrian territory and safety for all Syrians, draw the attention of the international community, on the occasion of Geneva II, to the fact that the Palestinians who have lived in Syria since 1948 share the same fate as their Syrian brothers and sisters.

Since the beginning of the Syrian uprising, Palestinians and Syrians have both suffered the abuses of the Syrian security services, supported by some of the Palestinian militias (the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command).  

Moreover, Yarmouk Camp, the biggest Palestinian community in Syria, has been subject to the most repressive measures at the hands of the Syrian regime. The camp has been under partial siege for one year, and total siege for the past six months, leading…

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Razan Olive I

I don’t know how to write this post. It’s been a while since a shed I tear on a friend’s detention – it happens a lot, it happens to almost everyone who decides to join the revolution against the state.

But it’s Razan. Tireless Razan. Stubborn Razan, who defines the word “courage” with the amount of work – pressure – she deals with daily in besieged Ghouta, and before that in checkpoint-ed Damascus.

Douma, where Razan and her colleagues are based, is a small city with no electricity whatsoever, not enough food, incredibly expensive living conditions due to regime blockade. For example, the fuel costs there 800 SP. It costs 50 SP before the revolution.

Razan the woman revolutionary in a male-dominated military war.


“Freedom to Razan Zeitounah, Kafranbel, Idleb”.

I don’t know her much personally, we are certainly not friends. We met twice in our life time. Once couple of years before the revolution and once few days prior to the revolution. We though, are good at exchanging emails, I am the who usually sends her lots of emails about work and possible cooperation and many times asking for her opinions in matters related to my safety.

I have a confession to make and perhaps it’s a weird one but I’ll say it anyways: I am jealous at any other activist who speaks casually to her and who gets to talk to her personally. I am jealous at the Facebook “likes” she puts on other mutual friends but never – yes I am writing these words- on my statuses..

Razan is my mentor, she doesn’t know it. And I am jealous if she prefers other activists over me.

In this post I shall write what I know of Razan before the revolution. I shall write the next post on her work during the revolution.

Razan Zeitounah Before the Revolution

Image1- Razan’s strength is legendary. She never left Syrian lands ever since the revolution started March 2011. She left her home before the revolution started knowing that the regime will raid her home – she was banned from traveling since 2007 or 2008 due to her work in human rights. She was the founder of (http://shril-sy.info/) a website that’s down now – since there was no time for her to renew it. Syrian Human Right Information Link (SHRIL) was Razan’s archive site that combined all statements and information of state’s human rights violations against its citizens. It was a priceless website even though its idea was simple, but to me it was the number one information on Syria’s underground uncensored world.

2- Razan used to visit political detainees and prisoners of conscious’ families and was closely in touch with them and checks on them and tries to get information on the detainees. She was actually one of the sources of Sednaya prison ‘s massacre occurred 2008. One prisoner was hiding a mobile telephone and managed to make a phone call to report on the massacre was being carried. Razan was one of those who followed the case closely – of course all underground.

Image3- Razan was one of the tens of Syrians who attended opposition salons and discussed public affair in Syria especially with relation to state corruption and dictatorship. Such meetings were arranged with few trusted circles and many of those who attended the meetings are all revolutionaries now and most of them actually hold positions in either Syrian National Council or Syrian Coalition. (Razan decided to stay in Syria and be a revolutionary instead).

4- Razan was the lawyer who guided us, bloggers, with the campaign to free Syrian blogger Tareq Baiasi. Tareq was I think the first blogger to be detained in Syria and the campaign was the first of its kind as far as I know in Syrian blogsphere. Blogger Ahmad Abu Al-Kher was the founder of the campaign and I joined to help with the English page.

Razan was helping us and teaching us how to advocate for Tareq’s freedom and how to write statements and that was the first time I myself ever read articles of the Syrian constitution.

1476565_572691732801141_28760912_nOne incident I remember vividly about Razan and I, an incident that made me I think mature a bit, is when she yelled at me for calling another fellow blogger a traitor upon our disagreement on Israel’s war on Gaza 2008. I met her and her husband, Wael Hamada (who’s also kidnapped with Razan) in Old Damascus and we all walked to their place. I sat next to her and looked at me and said in a firm tone something like:

“We don’t accuse one another of treason. This is not our language. This is the regime’s language that use such treason discourse against its citizens to discredit them.”

I don’t think I look up to someone as I look up to Razan. She is the one person in this world. The one person. Who can yell at me non-stop for five minutes and I’d say not a word back at her. Because I know her, she’s as harsh on herself as she is on the people around her.

I want her back walking on the lands that deserve her. I want her to breath the air of freedom she works so hard to attain. I want her safe and I want her back.

Freedom to Zeitounah (Olive in Arabic), Samira, Nazem and Wael. Down with the criminals who kidnapped them!

Statement by the Violation Documentation Center (VDC)

A statement by the Violation Documentation Center (VDC) and the Local Development and Small Projects Support Office (LDSPS) regarding the kidnapping of activists Razan Zeitouneh, Samira Khalil, Wael Hamada and Nazim Hamadi.



Samira Khalil

 An unknown armed group kidnapped last night 9/10/2013, human rights lawyer and activist Razan Zeitouneh, activist and ex-political prisoner Samira Khalil, activist and Razan’s spouse Wael Hamada, and the lawyer and poet Nazim Hamadi from the office of the VDC and LDSPS in Douma, Damascus suburbs.

Besides being an icon of the Syrian revolution, Razan cofounded the Local Coordination Committees in Syria (LCC) and the Violation Documentation Center (VDC), which documents all human rights violations in Syria. She co-founded the local development and small projects support office (LDSPS) as well which aims to help the people in Syria generally, and in Eastern Ghouta more specifically, to provide basic needs and essential services and support to medical and development centers. Her and her colleagues work is very well recognized by the inhabitants in Ghouta.


Nazem Hammadi

Her kidnapping and the kidnapping of her colleagues indicates yet again the endeavor of some to undermine any form of civil action to help Syrians in the liberated areas to rule and provide for themselves.

 We, at the VDC and LDSPS, condemn with the strongest words this kidnapping and ask for the immediate release of Razan, Samira, Wael and Nazim without any conditions.

ImageWe also hold all armed groups operating in the area accountable for the safety and safeguard of the Ghouta inhabitants and Razan and her colleagues. We hold them accountable as well for the safe release of Razan and her colleagues and their safe return to their homes. Such armed groups should ensure that such kidnapping in never repeated again in the future in the area they control.

The Dignity and Freedom revolution is undergoing one of its most critical moments now and we hope that it will be able to avoid this trap set from its enemies to undermine its credibility and stray its path.


Wael Hamadeh


Violation Documentation Center in Syria
E-mail:     editor@vdc-sy.org
Websit:    www.vdc-sy.org
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/vdcsy
Twitter:    twitter.com/VDC_Syria