Raw in War
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

Refusing To Be Silenced - WOW Festival 2016 PDF E-mail





‘Refusing To Be Silenced’ 

WOW Festival 2016

Saturday 12th March 2016


Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre




Dear Friends,


We are pleased to announce that RAW in WAR’’s ‘Refusing To Be Silenced’  event will once again be involved in the 2016 WOW (Women of the World) Festival  at London's Southbank Centre on Saturday 12th March. The WOW Festival will be taking place from Tuesday 8th - Sunday 13th of March, bringing together talks, debates, performances and activism celebrating women and girls.


On Saturday 12th March, join us for our event ‘Refusing To Be Silenced’ (15.45-16.45) in the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre. Refusing To Be Silenced’ seeks to support the women who risk their lives to speak the truth. We 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 RAW in WAR Anna Politkovskaya Award. The discussion will focus on the abuses against women and girls in areas of conflict, such as in Syria and Iraq and what is the price of speaking out and freedom of expression.


The panel will be hosted by Lindsey Hilsum, Channel 4 News International Editor, award-winning journalist, who has covered the major conflicts of the past two decades. The panel will include:

  • Kholoud Waleed (Syria): Co-founder of ‘Enab Baladi’ underground newspaper and 2015 Anna Poltikovskaya Award winner.
  • Vian Dakhil (Iraq): The only Yazidi MP in Iraq’s Parliament and 2014 Anna Politkovskaya Award winner, who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016.
  • Natalie Nougayrède: Editorial board member and columnist at The Guardian and former executive editor of Le Monde, who was awarded in France for her coverage of the Chechnya conflict.
  • Mariana Katzarova: Founder of RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in WAR), who is currently taking part in the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine.


At the event, the 2015 Anna Politkovskaya Award will be presented to Kholoud Waleed (Syria) by prominent women leaders, including Jude Kelly, WOW Founder and Elena Kudimova, Anna Politkovskaya’s sister. Renowned singer/songwriter Lorraine Jordan will perform alongside the Bloomsburys, led by LAKA D.


As you can imagine, we are delighted to be joined by such an inspiring group of courageous women and would like to invite you to join us too. You can purchase day and weekend passes and tickets HERE, giving you access to plenty of other events taking place at the WOW Festival during the weekend. 


We hope you can join us!!


For more information about our 'Refusing To Be Silenced' event, please click here.

For more information about the WOW Festival, please click here.

Follow Refusing To Be Silenced on Twitter! @Refuse2beSilent

Follow RAW in WAR on Twitter! @RAWinWAR





Anna Politkovskaya Award winners – Vian Dakhil, 2014 (left) and Kholoud Waleed, 2015 (right).

Free Razan Zaitouneh and her colleagues - the Douma 4 - immediately! PDF E-mail


Today marks two years since our friend and the recipient of RAW in WAR’s 2011 Anna Politkovskaya Award, Razan Zaitouneh was snatched from her office in Douma, a suburb of Damascus. 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 two years ago today, 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!


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. 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. 


Lawyer Razan Zaitouneh and her friends had been documenting human rights violations of all sides in the brutal conflict in Syria and they had helped those in need of protection and support, without regards to any political affiliation. They were truly dedicated to protecting human rights and telling the truth. We at RAW in WAR remember them and stand in solidarity with the Douma 4 and with all Syrians, calling for peace and justice and an end to the war crimes and atrocities the Syrians suffer at the hands of the government, as well as the armed groups.


In 2011, upon receiving RAW in WAR’s Anna Politkovskaya Award, Razan wrote a Letter to Anna . Her words then are as important today as ever:


“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…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.”




"To Anna,

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 five years. 

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 Anna, unfortunately!

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."

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