Four activists, among them internationally acclaimed non-violent activist Razan Zaitouneh, from Syria’s Violations Documentation Center(VDC) were kidnapped by unidentified masked gunmen from the center’s Douma office on the outskirts of Damascus, the Syriancapital, reported Activist News Association.
Zaitouneh, along with her team made up of Nazem al-Hamadi, Sameera Alkhalil and Wael Hamadah, were abducted on December 9, with no news of their whereabouts, sparking an international outcry.
Following their abduction, Douma’s local committee issued a statement condemning the act, adding that the ransacking of the VDC office too was shameful and likened it to the work of Assad’s regime. The statement reads:
“Douma woke up today [Tuesday, December 10, 2013] to the news of an attack on the Violations Documentation Center (VDC) in Syria and the arrest of activist Razan Zaitouneh and her team, who have exerted their efforts in the support of this revolution and who have previously been arrested by the oppressive regime more than once. They have lived with us during our seige, stemming from the belief and true work is conducted from the battle ground and not on the pages of the Internet. We, in the local city council, condemn this cowardly act, which is similar to that of the regime, and call upon all the military groups and revolutionary forces to follow up on this case, which is a stain of shame on Free Douma.”
On their behalf, Syria’s Local Coordinators Committee, founded by Zaitouneh, demanded the release of all four activists and asked all human rights advocates to join the LCC’s campaign. They also said that the abducted activists were highly inspired by Mandela, who recently passed away, adding that:
“At a time when the world is mourning the death of Nelson Mandela, we must remember that there are other Mandelas around the world. These activists were inspired and informed by Mr. Mandela’s work, and were promoting concepts of nonviolence and civil resistance in Syria even at a time when the regime has violated every possible tenet of human rights. Failure to call for their release is tantamount to failing in all that Human Rights defenders stand for in the call against tyranny.”
According to a decree issued by Eastern Ghouta civic agencies, Zaitouneh received several threats prior to her kidnapping by both the regime and extremist insurgents while working in the Damascene district.
In a Facebook post, writer Yassin Al Haj Saleh, Alkhalil’s husband, said their abduction is an insult to Syria and its revolution. He also asked those who can help to do so quickly.
“Sameera Al-Khalil (my wife), along with Razan Zaitouneh, Wael Hamadah and Nazem al-Hamadi have been arrested since last night in Douma. Whoever can help, please take action soon. Arresting Sameera, Razan, Wael and Nazem is an insult to the revolution and to Syria.”
Twitter users, too, began mobilizing a virtual campaign demanding the release of Zaitouneh and her colleagues. United States-based Syrian activist Rafif Jouejati marked their abduction as an indicator of humanity’s death: