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
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
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
“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
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).
(+44) 07951 209 575
(+44) 07951 864 303
‘Grapes of My Country’ – A film about Kholoud Waleed
and ‘Enab Baladi’
Filmed and directed by Chloe Fairweather; Executive Producer Christina
||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
“SYRIANS STILL WANT FREEDOM”
KHOLOUD WALEED'S RESPONSE TO
WINNING THE 2015 AWARD
It is an honor to receive
this award in your name, eight years after evil power assassinated you to
silence the free word. A time when my country has been struck by all evil
powers to suppress those who have called for freedom and dignity in the last
Dear Anna, your steps were
followed by many Syrians who paid with their life in return for their passion
for truth. Enab Baladi, my newspaper, was co-founded by a group of young
passionate Syrians. We want to convey the atrocities committed by the Assad
regime to the world. The cost of this has been very high, as three colleagues
have been killed since then. Four of my colleagues are being held by the regime,
four other female reporters were detained and later on released. Can you
imagine the cost of truth in Syria? And this is only for one media platform as
the numbers increase every single day.
Anna, nothing much has
changed in the context of human rights since you left us, women are still
abused in most parts of the world, journalists are assassinated, human rights
activists detained, and the world is still turning a deaf ear to all that. My
colleague Razan Zaitouna, who received this award in your name in 2011 has been
disappeared, and her voice has also been silenced. No one likes free voices
This award is granted not
to me, rather to a whole group of dedicated young men and women who have
battled war through their words and reports to the world. We want to deliver
the messages of those Syrians who are surviving the war despite all types of
threats they face daily.
This award is a big
motivation for me and my colleagues to maintain our passion for truth and
continue telling the stories untold for the Syrians who continue their lives
within Syria, despite ongoing death and destruction surrounding them. The
stories of people who called for freedom and change and still aspire this, and
who have dreams that are unfulfilled.
Dear Anna, despite all the
hardships, the Syrians will continue their struggle to reach the light at
the end of this dark and scary tunnel. For the same reason you paid with your
life, so may your soul rest in peace and know that the candle you lit will
never be put out."
For further information, please contact the RAW Media Team at
For further information about Kholoud Waleed, the Award or the work of RAW in WAR, please contact:
(+44) 07951 209 575
(+44) 07951 864 303
A full report on Kholoud Waleed is avaliable on request.