The recipient of RAW in WAR’s fifth annual Anna Politkovskaya Award is Razan Zaitouneh from Syria. Razan is a 34-year-old human rights lawyer from Syria who has gone into hiding after being accused by the government of being a foreign agent due to her sharing her daily accounts of the atrocities against civilians in Syria with foreign media outlets and on the internet.
The government has imposed a strict ban on access for foreign journalists and human rights advocates to Syria.
Razan’s information website – SHRIL – became the main source of information for foreign media about the killings and torture of civilians by the army and police in Syria. Razan has worked with the Human Rights Association of Syria to monitor and expose domestic human rights violations. She describes the day that she went into hiding:
“On March 23, after the massacre at the Omari mosque in Dera’a, to which protesters had retreated. That day security forces surrounded the mosque and brutally attacked it. I gathered information from Dera’a and passed it on to international media. Subsequently, Syrian state television defamed me as a foreign agent. So I knew they would come to get me soon. I gathered the most necessary things and left my apartment”.
Razan gathers her information for the foreign media through a network of political activists and human rights defenders.
On 12 May 2011, government security agents entered the home of Razan Zaitouneh and searched it, seeking to arrest her. It is reported that when they failed to find her, they arrested her husband, Wa’il Al-Hamada, who was held incommunicado in an unknown location for almost three months and reportedly tortured. He was released on 31July 2011.