Human Rights & Democracy

Free Razan Zaitouneh: Syrian human rights activist & 2011 Sakharov Prize Laureate

09/12/2014 - 00:00
News stories

On 9th December Razan Zaitouneh, the prominent human rights defender and 2011 Sakharov Prize Laureate for Freedom of Thought was kidnapped along with three of her colleagues. One year on, as they remain without a trace, activists and politicians from around the world call for their release.

Left : Stavros Lambrinidis, EUSR for Human Rights; Right : Maciej Popowski, EEAS Deputy Secretary General

EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis, took part in a prominent initiative to draw attention to the abduction of Razan Zaitouneh and her colleagues.  The initiative, organised by the European Parliament, calls for Zaitouneh's release and celebrates her role in human rights activism in Syria. It brought together a broad coalition of activists and politicians from all over the world working to defend human rights. Supporters also included EP President, Martin Schulz, this year's Sakharov Prize winner Dr Denis Mukwege and senior officials at the European External Action Service, including Deputy Secretary General Maciej Popowski.

Zaitouneh and her colleagues Samira Khalil, Wa’el Hamada and Nazem Hamadi remain missing a year after their abduction. The four were abducted in Duma, a city near Damascus under the control of armed opposition groups, when a group of armed men stormed into the office of the Violations Documentation Center in Syria (VDC), a Syrian human rights monitoring group headed by Zaitouneh.

The European External Action Service is deeply engaged in supporting human rights around the world including in Syria. This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the EU's Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders – a key milestone in the EU's support for those that stand up for human rights.