On December 9, 2013, a group of gunmen stormed the offices of the Violations Documentation Center in Syria in Douma, Damascus countryside and abducted Razan Zaitouneh and three other activists: Samira Khalil, Nazim Hamada and Wael Hamada. Their whereabouts is still unknown, which exacerbated concerns about their health and safety.
While the armed factions in the Eastern Ghouta issued a statement immediately after their kidnapping denying responsibility for that crime and for other violations in Eastern Ghouta, these factions did not facilitate a prompt, serious and independent investigation to uncover the fate of the four kidnapped, despite the fact that the protection of civilians is the responsibility of any party in the areas under their control.
The peaceful civil and rights activism of Razan, Samira, Nazim and Wael (who worked years in silence and was arrested and tortured in silence), which was inseparable from their approach to civil rights and their calls for a country with more justice and respect of human dignity, had created them numerous enemies. All those violating human rights and insulting human dignity are their enemies; all those seeking political or military control for personal profit are their enemies. And it was those who managed to abduct Razan, Samira, Nazim and Wael.
The undersigned Syrian human rights organizations confirm that this crime is not subject to statute of limitations under the international humanitarian law. Accountability is definitely coming and the only ones authorized to forgive are Razan, Samira, Wael and Nazem.
The Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights-Birati urge all international players to take all necessary measures to uncover the whereabouts of Razan Zaitouneh, Samira Khalil, Nazim Hammadi and Wael Hamadeh and release them immediately in accordance with the international law, and to ensure their safety. Their continued detention is part of wider violations including threats and harassment of human rights activists from government and anti-government parties alike.
FFHR-Birati, call on all capable forces to interfere and pressure to find out the whereabouts of the four disappeared persons and to release them immediately and let them return to their families and friends. We emphasize that the work started by the four abductees has not stopped and will never stop. Documenting violations and seeking to establish accountability is the obsession of great many Syrian human rights activists and patriots including those enforcedly disappeared. It has never stopped and will never stop.
Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights
9 September 2017