Raw in War
Congratulations to Kholoud Waleed (Syria) – winner of the 2015 Anna Politkovskaya Award PDF E-mail





Credit: Chloe Fairweather

Today, Wednesday 7th October, RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in WAR) celebrates the incredible courage and inspiring work of Kholoud Waleed, a 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’s reporting, and ‘Enab Baladi’, form a small island of truth and respect for the people in Syria amidst the horrors of the war.


In 2012 Kholoud Waleed, alongside a group of female friends, started organising demonstrations calling for democracy, free elections and human rights. The group also helped children and other family members of those who had been killed or detained. The group then founded 'Enab Baladi' – a newspaper reporting about daily life in Syria, exposing the war crimes against civilians and the ongoing oppression of independent voices. The group behind ‘Enab Baladi’, most of them women, have to hide and write under pseudonyms, and the majority are either in hiding in Syria or are refugees in Turkey and Lebanon. Khaloud and her colleagues are facing daily the threat of detention or death if the authorities find out they write for ‘Enab Baladi’.

Left: A copy of ‘Enab Baladi’.

Despite the danger to her life, Kholoud has worked tirelessly in order to inform people in Syria about the atrocities and war crimes they are suffering and to speak out against the violence the country and its citizens are enduring. She had to go in hiding and leave Syria when three of her friends were detained by government forces and they came looking for her. In this, she reminds us of Anna Politkovskaya, who in the face of grave danger to her own life, continued to write against violence and human rights abuses against civilians in Chechnya.




Copies of ‘Enab Baladi’ in the midst of the devastation in Syria.

Today, on the 9th anniversary of Anna Politkovskaya’s murder, RAW in WAR honours Kholoud Waleed with the 2015 Anna Politkovskaya Award for her courage to speak out and to give a voice to the many Syrian people whose voices cannot be heard amidst the bombing and persecution in the rapidly disintegrating Syria. RAW in WAR marks the anniversary of Anna Politkovskaya’s murder 9 years ago today by giving the award in her name to a woman, who, like Anna, speaks truth to power.


On accepting the Award, Kholoud Waleed said:


“It means a lot to me to receive the Anna Politkovskaya Award, named after a Russian journalist who was assassinated for exposing the Russian crimes in Chechnya to the world. Ironically, her assassin has not been brought to justice yet, the same like the assassin of Syria is still ruling it, after five 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, and who are supported by the silence of the international community.”


The Award will be presented to Kholoud Waleed in person in March 2016 in London at RAW in WAR’s ‘Refusing to be Silenced’ event, part of the 2016 Women of the World (WOW) Festival.

On Kholoud Waleed receiving the 2015 Anna Politkovskaya Award, Elena Kudimova, sister of Anna Politkovskaya and a member of the 2015 Award Nominations Committee, said:


“I believe that Anna would have been highly satisfied and proud with our choice of a recipient for this year’s award. This brave woman from Syria, Kholoud Waleed, is doing the same dangerous work as Anna did: against all odds and in the face of threats to her own life, keeps informing the Syrian people and the world about the life and the suffering of the civilians in war torn areas. The newspaper she runs is a rare source of truthful facts for the people in Syria, who are left either in an information vacuum or are subjected to heavy state propaganda. With this award we celebrate all courageous women journalists around the world who under no circumstances stop delivering the truth to their audience and the world.”



The RAW in WAR Nominations Committee for the 2015 Anna Politkovskaya Award was deeply humbled by the determination shown by Kholoud Waleed, reflecting the spirit that Anna Politkovskaya showed in her life. RAW in WAR continues to remember the life of Anna Politkovskaya by working to support brave women human rights defenders in conflict zones throughout the world. On the Anna Politkovskaya Awards, Azar Nafisi, author, “Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books”, and a member of the Committee of Supporters for the Award, said:



“It’s quite extraordinary, as well as natural, that we should celebrate the work of Anna through celebrating other courageous women who come from such different nations, backgrounds, and speak different languages but all share a common language in their desire for freedom. Not just for themselves but for all victims of oppression.




On receiving the Anna Politkovskaya Award, Kholoud Waleed will join a group of remarkable women human rights defenders who received the Anna Politkovskaya Award in the past, including Vian Dakhil (2014), Malala Yousafzai (2013), Marie Colvin (2012), Razan Zaitouneh (2011), Dr. Halima Bashir (2010), Leila Alikarami on behalf of the One Million Signatures Campaign for Equality in Iran (2009), Malalai Joya (2008) and Natalia Estemirova (2007).


Contact details:
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(+44) 07951 209 575
(+44) 07951 864 303


‘Grapes of My Country’ – A film about Kholoud Waleed and ‘Enab Baladi’

Credit: Filmed and directed by Chloe Fairweather; Executive Producer Christina Asquith


An article about Kholoud Waleed winning
the 2015 Award in Novaya Gazete,
the Russian newspaper that
Anna Politkovskaya wrote for.


Photo from the Syrian war - The Syrian city of Homs has been destroyed by the country’s civil war.Photo: Getty Images



For further information about Kholoud Waleed, the Award or the work of RAW in WAR, please contact:

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(+44) 07951 209 575

(+44) 07951 864 303

A full report on Kholoud Waleed is avaliable on request. 


Please note: The RAW in WAR website is currently under maintenance - more information will be posted online shortly. Thank you for your patience. 


We Want Justice for Natasha: End Impunity PDF E-mail

Six years ago today, we lost a close friend – Natalia Estemirova (or Natasha as we called her among friends), RAW in WAR’s first Anna Politkovskaya Award winner. Natalia Estemirova, a courageous human rights defender from Russia’s Chechen Republic, was abducted in front of several witnesses outside of her home in Grozny on 15 July 2009. Her body was found later that day in the neighbouring Republic of Ingushetia. 

Until today, nobody has been brought to justice for this crime, despite promises by the then Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev and the then Head of the Investigation Committee to take the investigation under their control. The official investigation has conducted dozens of interviews and spent hundreds of hours of investigative work but without results. The desire to uphold the official version, which puts the blame for the murder at the hands of anti-government fighters, has blighted attempts to reveal the truth.

Natalia was a warm-hearted, generous person, who spoke truth to power - wherever she saw injustice - in order to protect human rights and human dignity.

We at RAW in WAR owe it to our friend Natalia Estemirova to call for justice for her murder, to urge the Russian authorities to really investigate the crime and to bring to justice the perpetrators and the ones who ordered it, no matter who they are.
We continue to call on the Russian Government to stop the campaign against human rights defenders and to support their work in the name of Natalia Estemirova, Anna Politkovskaya and others like them, who lost their lives while defending human rights. We will continue to re-print our open letter from 15 July 2009 , the day Natalia was abducted and killed, until justice is done.


15 July 2015 

Join in support and add your voice for justice by signing the petition and adding a comment on RAW in WAR’s Facebook page and Twitter @RawinWar  @Refuse2beSilent 

‘Refusing To Be Silenced’ Returns to the London WOW Festival PDF E-mail

WOW Logo 

We are pleased to announce that on Saturday 7th March, 3.30-4.30pm, RAW in WAR’s ‘Refusing To Be Silenced’ will be returning to the London Southbank Centre’s WOW - Women of the World Festival. Taking place between 1st-8th March, the festival brings together talks, debates, performances, and activism celebrating women and girls - and is this year featuring Caitlin Moran, Annie Lennox, The Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe, and Shami Chakrabarti, amongst others.

Refusing To Be Silenced seeks to support the women who risk their lives to speak the truth. This year, our session will bring together international women of courage who stand for human rights and justice in war and conflict zones around the world, including winners of the Anna Politkovskaya Award. The session will focus attention on the abducted women and girls in areas of conflict. 

refusing to be silenced 

Speakers include Elena Kudimova, Anna Politkovskaya’s sister; Vian Dakhil (Iraq), the only Yazidi MP in Iraq’s parliament and RAW in WAR’s 2014 Anna Politkovskaya Award winner ; Obiageli Ezekwesili (Nigeria), founder of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ movement to rescue the 300 girls of Chibok abducted by Boko Haram; Angelina Atyam (Uganda), who has tirelessly campaigned to rescue girls abducted in Uganda by the Lord’s Resistance Army, including her 14-year-old-daughter Charlotte; British international correspondent (TBC - Lyse Doucet, BBC Chief International Correspondent and Lindsey Hilsum, Channel 4 News International Editor). The panel will be chaired by Mariana Katzarova, founder of RAW in WAR. 

Singer-songwriter Lorraine Jordan and Lana Estemirova, daughter of Natalia Estemirova, the first recipient of the Anna Politkovskaya Award who was killed in Chechnya in 2009, will sing at the event. 

We are delighted to be joined by such an inspiring panel of women, and would like to invite you to join us too. You can purchase tickets to attend HERE for £20 (a day pass, giving you access to plenty of other events throughout the day). To read more about the event and speakers, click HERE

We hope to see you there!

Follow Refusing To Be Silenced on Twitter! @Refuse2beSilent   

Support the 2015 Anna Politkovskaya Award! PDF E-mail

 Anna Politkovskaya Award 2015

Anna Politkovskaya Award

This is an annual award presented by RAW in WAR on or around the 7th October, to mark the anniversary of the murder of Anna Politikovskaya - the Russian campaigning journalist who exposed the truth about human rights abuses in the conflict in Chechnya and paid for it with her life. The Award is presented at a special event in London to a woman human rights defender, working in an area of conflict and oppression, who has made an exceptional contribution to protect the victims of war and conflict, often in the face of considerable personal risk. 

Previous award winners include:

2007: Natalia Estemirova (Chechnya/Russia)
2008: Malalai Joya (Afghanistan)
2009: Leila Alikarami on behalf of One Million Signatures Campaign (Iran)
2010: Dr Halima Bashir (Darfur/Sudan)
2011: Razan Zaitouneh (Syria)
2012: Marie Colvin (USA)
2013: Malala Yousafzai (Pakistan)
2014: Vian Dakhil (Iraq)
To learn more about the award, click HERE 

In 2013, our small team here at RAW in WAR put together a fantastic evening at the London Southbank Centre, with guests and supporters joining us as we awarded Malala Yousafzai the seventh annual Anna Politkovskaya Award. The night was one of celebration and education - as we acknowledged the incredible work of women human rights defenders taking place in areas of war and armed conflict across the globe. The evening included performances by Dame Evelyn Glennie, Labi Siffre, Lorraine Jordan, Disarm and the Badac Theatre Company. With Lyse Doucet acting as a wonderful Master of Ceremony, and special guest Sir Nicholas Winton presenting the award to Malala, the 2013 Anna Politkovskaja Award was a night to remember.
This past October, we awarded the Iraqi MP - Vian Dakhil - the eighth annual Anna Politkovskaya Award, on behalf of all Yazidi and Iraqi women besieged by Islamic State. With Vian busy working in Iraq at the time, we were unable to hold an event in London - but we are thrilled that she will be joining us at the Southbank Centre in March for the WOW - Women of the World Festival! 

Today, the RAW in WAR team is already working to prepare the 2015 Anna Politkovskaya Award - for which we will be organising an event in London in October to honour another exceptional and brave woman human rights defender from a conflict zone in the world! Your support would help us ensure another night to remember - not just in organising the award ceremony itself, but in supporting the work of the new award winner, as we present a monetary equivalent of the award to the winner. It would also allow RAW in WAR to actively support the human rights work of our award winners in their own countries. With your help we can continue our goal of helping women human rights defenders working in conflict zones be heard and that their selfless work is supported and encouraged.

Click HERE  to make a donation to the RAW in WAR PayPal account.

Donate to RAW in WAR directly via Online Banking/Telephone Banking:
Account Name: RAW for Women and Girl Survivors of War
Account No: 07455186 COUTTS
Sort Code: 180002
IBAN GB74COUT18000207455186 

Make a donation by cheque to the following address:
RAW for Women and Girl Survivors of War
Free Word Centre
60 Farringdon Road
London EC1R 3GA 
Free Razan Zaitouneh and her colleagues in Syria PDF E-mail

Razan Zaitouneh Free 


Today, RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in WAR) joins 56 human rights organisations from around the world calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Razan Zaitouneh  – the prominent Syrian human rights lawyer and the recipient of RAW in WAR’s 2011 Anna Politkovskaya Award  - and her three colleagues. Since their abduction from the Violations Documentation Center (VDC)  in the Damascus’ suburb of Douma a year ago today, their condition and whereabouts have remained unknown. 

Razan Zaitouneh’s determined and courageous writing and truth-telling brought attention to those unable to have the world’s ear. Her voice was the heart and soul of those seeking peace and freedom in Syria. Razan’s work has deeply impressed us at RAW in WAR, as it has many around the world - including the European Parliament, which awarded her the 2011 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. But her voice has also angered those whose violence and abuse she exposed. It is with pain that we recognize that her deep humanity and urge to tell the truth and expose the injustice was the only possible reason for her abduction. Today, we urge everyone able to help ensure Razan’s release to do everything possible to secure her and her colleagues’ freedom. 

In 2011, when Razan Zaitouneh learned that she had been selected for the Anna Politkovskaya Award, she wrote a letter to Anna, in which she said: 

“Dear Anna, I am aware that your passion for truth and the defense of human dignity, for which you gave your life, is but a link in a chain that stretches across the world, through individuals and entire peoples, all of whom believe in everyone's right to live free of oppression, humiliation, and subjugation. …What we share in humanity transcends languages, nationalities, and borders, just as tyranny and corruption share the same essence although they differ in details. …Each step forward towards peace and justice in any part of the world benefits all humanity. I would like to remind the world that the Syrian people, who were victims to all those crimes yet still patient and persistent, are people who deserve much more than complicit silence, or timid criticism from those who have failed to refer this regime to the International Criminal Court despite acknowledging its crimes.”


  VIDEO: A RAW in WAR Documentary Film: The winner of the 2011 Anna Politkovskaya Award - RAZAN ZAITOUNEH 


Syria: No word on four abducted activists
 A year on, no information on Douma Four

The prominent Syrian human rights defenders Razan Zaitouneh, Samira Khalil, Wa’el Hamada and Nazem Hamadi – the Douma Four—remain missing a year after their abduction, 57 organizations said today. The four were abducted in Duma, a city near Damascus under the control of armed opposition groups. They should be released immediately, the groups said.  

To read the full statement, click HERE.  


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