Raw in War
Happy Birthday, Razan! Free Razan Zaitouneh and her colleagues - THE DOUMA FOUR PDF E-mail


Today, 29th April, marks the birthday of Razan Zaitouneh - the third consecutive birthday she has spent in captivity. The 2011 Anna Politkovskaya Award winner was snatched from her office in Douma, a suburb of Damascus, in 2013. Together with her husband, Wa’el Hamada and two other activists, Samir Khalil and Nazem Hamadi, she was detained and abducted by armed men believed to be members of the so-called Army of Islam, which at that time had control over Douma. Since their abduction from the Violations Documentation Center (VDC) in Douma almost three years ago in December 2013, their condition and whereabouts have remained unknown. 

We call on all those governments, world leaders and individuals who have influence over the situation in Syria, to do their utmost to ensure the safe, unconditional and immediate release of Razan, Wa’el, Samir and Nazem, known as the Douma 4! 

To mark Razan's birthday and to renew calls for Razan and her colleagues' release, RAW in WAR joined today, 29 April 2016, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, supported by many organisations around the world, in a Joint Statement. To read the text of the Joint Statement please click here. To read the statement in Arabic, please click here .

To help bring attention to their case, “we are hoping once again to shine a light on their disappearance,” says Rana Zaitouneh, Razan’s sister. On 30 April 2016, the family is hosting a vigil on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, co-sponsored by Amnesty International Canada. They are also asking those who are unable to attend to post messages of solidarity, photos, artwork, or anything else that may spread awareness over the next week. For more information on the vigil, visit this Facebook page.

You can post a message or a photo of yourself with the photo below HERE .


 Join the call to help free the four human rights defenders, who were abducted in December 2013, and send messages of solidarity.


  #RAWinWAR #RefusingToBeSilenced #RazanZaitouneh #Douma4



Vian Dakhil at Refusing To Be Silenced 2016 PDF E-mail

At RefusingToBeSilenced‬ we honoured Vian Dakhil. Vian received the 2014 Anna Politkovskaya Award in recognition of her brave and fierce campaigning to advocate and mobilize support for the Yazidi people in Iraq - in defiance of the danger she faces as an outspoken critic of Islamic State. For her courage she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016. As Iraq's only Yazidi MP, Vian continues to speak out and campaign to protect her people from the terror of Islamic State. More than 3,000 Yazidi women and girls were kidnapped and kept as sex slaves to ISIS fighters. Vian is the voice for these women and girls. She needs all our support as she refuses to be silenced and keeps going!


Kholoud Waleed - Interviewed on BBC Radio 4's 'Woman's Hour' PDF E-mail

On Monday 14th March, Kholoud Waleed, 2015 Anna Politkovskaya Award winner, was interviewed on BBC Radio 4's 'Woman's Hour'. Presenter Jane Garvey asked Kholoud about her brave work running the Syrian underground newspaper 'Enab Baladi' despite the danger her and her colleagues face every day. They spoke of Kholoud's recent international recognition by being given RAW in WAR's award and taking part in our 'Refusing To Be Silenced' event as part of the Women of the World Festival (March 2016). We are thankful to 'Woman's Hour' and Jane Garvey for sharing Kholoud's story.






Brave women Refusing To Be Silenced – Syrian journalist honored with the Anna Politkovskaya Award PDF E-mail


Kholoud Waleed with the Anna Politkovskaya Award [Photo: Luke MacGregor]

On 12th March, RAW in WAR's Refusing To Be Silenced’ event, at London Southbank Centre's WOW - Women of the World Festival, celebrated the incredible courage and inspiring work of brave women from war and conflict in the world. 

At Refusing To Be Silenced’ we presented the 2015 Anna Politkovskaya Award to Kholoud Waleed, a Syrian journalist and editor of the underground newspaper ‘Enab Baladi’. Kholoud Waleed, co-founder of ‘Enab Baladi’ (Grapes of my country) bravely reports to the world and to the people in Syria about the atrocities of the conflict, despite the dangers, she and her colleagues face every day. Three of the newspaper journalists were killed and others were detained in Syria. Kholoud Waleed refuses to be silenced by the Syrian regime and the terror of ISIS and other extremist groups, who are supported by the silence of the international community. Despite the threat to her life she continues. Kholoud Waleed’s reporting, and ‘Enab Baladi’, form a small island of truth and respect for the people in Syria amidst the horrors of the war.

Kholoud Waleed, with her Award, and Vian Dakhil showing solidarity in ‘Refusing To Be Silenced [Photo: Luke MacGregor]

To present the award to Kholoud Waleed, Mariana Katzarova, RAW in WAR founder was joined by an amazing group of women leaders:  Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre and founder of the WOW Festival, Elena Kudimova, Anna Politkovskaya’s sister and activist, and playwright Eve Ensler, author of the ‘The Vagina Monologues’ and founder of the V-DAY movement to end violence against women and girls. Elena Kudimova told Kholoud of how proud Anna would have been that Kholoud is receiving this award. Eve Ensler greeted Kholoud for her bravery with tears. Jude Kelly presented the Anna Politkovskaya Award statue to Kholoud and expressed the support of the WOW festival for all courageous women like Kholoud, part of “Refusing To Be Silenced”, whose voices should be heard.

On accepting the Award, Kholoud Waleed said:

“At the time of receiving the award, no feelings can be expressed, as they are mixed all together: happiness, great honor, sadness – feeling the soul of Anna with us, telling me not to be silent and keep going.

It means a lot to me to receive the Anna Politkovskaya Award, named after Anna, a Russian journalist, who refused to be silenced and exposed the Russian crimes in Chechnya to the world, and paid for it with her life.  Ironically, her assassin has not been brought to justice yet, the same like the assassin of Syria is still ruling it, after six years of brutality against the Syrian people, who aspired for freedom and change. It is also painful to follow in the steps of Razan Zeitouneh, and be in her own place receiving this award, without having her by my side. Razan was kidnapped by the “Army of Islam”, who was supposed to protect us, the Syrians, but turned out that they too do not tolerate free voices, who are exposing the truth about the war crimes in Syria.

This award comes at a time when the Russian government is openly involved in the crimes that the Assad regime commit daily against the Syrian people, and all evil powers have joined forces to kill the Syrians, who deserve the whole world to back them, not be partner in killing them, including ISIS, terrorists, Iranian mercenaries, Hizbullah, the Al Nusra extremist group, and who are supported by the silence of the international community.

All these feelings make me so proud and honored to receive such a valuable award, that was handed to me during the RAW in WAR’s “Refusing To Be Silenced” event at the WOW Festival, a very huge push forward for me to keep going and refuse to be silent, forever!”

Kholoud Waleed speaking during ‘Refusing To Be Silenced’ [Photo: Luke MacGregor]

This year’s “Refusing To Be Silenced” was hosted by award-winning journalist, Lindsey Hilsum, who is Channel 4 News' International Editor and the author of “Sandstorm: Libya in the Time of Revolution” (Faber, 2012). Lindsey Hilsum has covered the major conflicts of the past two decades, including the wars in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Ukraine. After the presentation of the award, a panel discussion took place that focused on the abuses against women and girls in areas of conflict, such as in Syria and Iraq, and the price of speaking out and freedom of expression. Speakers included Kholoud Waleed (underground Syrian journalist and 2015 Anna Politkovskaya Award winner), Vian Dakhil (Iraq's only Yazidi MP and 2014 Anna Politkovskaya Award winner and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize nominee), Natalie Nougayrède (Editorial board member at The Guardian and former executive editor of Le Monde) and Mariana Katzarova, RAW in WAR founder.

A beautiful performance of ‘Anna’s Song’ written by singer/songwriter Lorraine Jordan was performed. Lorraine Jordan was joined by the Bloomsburys choir, led by LAKA D.

It was an inspiring, humbling and deeply moving event, and we were honoured to be at WOW with so many courageous women, all of whom risk their lives to speak the truth.  

‘Enab Baladi’, the underground newspaper that Kholoud Waleed co-founded, has published an article about Kholoud being presented with the Anna Politkovskaya Award and the ‘Refusing To Be Silenced’ event – Please click here for the full article (published in Arabic).

Kholoud Waleed having been presented with the Anna Politkovskaya Award [Photo: Luke MacGregor]





‘Refusing To Be Silenced’

Saturday 12th March 2016

Royal Festival Hall,

Southbank Centre

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