Petra Kelly Prize Awarded to Four Abducted Human Rights Defenders

In Berlin, on 28 November 2014, Heinrich Böll Stiftung awarded Petra-Kelly prize to the Violations Documentation Center in Syria (VDC) and its four members abducted in Syria; Razan Zeitouneh, an activist and a lawyer;  her husband Wael Hammada, an activist; Samira Khalil, an activist and a former detainee, and Nazim Hamadi, a lawyer and a poet in the presence of a group of Syrian community and intellectuals. The award ceremony started with a speech delivered by Mr. Ralf Fücks, a member of the Green Party and a former member of its Program Commission. He has also been the Minister of the Interior Affairs till early 2000. Ms. Barbara Unmüßig, President of Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, made the next speech about their initiatives in solidarity with human rights activists who are still in Syria; she praised them and spoke highly of their courage and commitment to principles of freedom. Afterwards, Ms. Petra Steinen, from Holland, delivered a distinctive impassioned speech through which she highlighted the most significant stages in the lives of the four abducted and the key roles they played in the Syrian uprising and her relation with Razan Zeitouneh. After that, Mr. Amir Kazkaz, a member of VDC, received the prize on behalf of the center and the families of the four abducted after he delivered a speech through which he thanked Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung and highlighted the daily massacres committed against civilians in Syria, the most recent of which was that of Raqqa when regime warplanes targeted the city and claimed the lives of dozens. He also stated the challenges and dangers activists and human rights defenders face in Syria in order to fulfill their duties. He stressed that the abduction of the four defenders is just an example of other thousands of cases taking place within the ongoing Syrian conflict.

Petra-Kelly prize awarded by the Heinrich Böll Foundation honors people and civil society organizations for their achievements in promoting and respecting human rights in the world, as well as those who work in conflict and environment protection fields.

It is worth recalling that on 9 December 2013, an armed group stormed into the office of the Violations Documentation Centre in Syria (VDC) in Douma, which is controlled by opposition armed groups, and abducted Razan Zaitouneh Wael Hamada, Samira al-Khalil and Nazim Hammadi and that there are serious concerns about their wellbeing given that the area; the cities and towns of Gouta, is besieged and daily shelled by the regime forces.

The Violations Documentation Center in Syria (VDC), on behalf of all its members, pays tribute to Heinrich Böll Foundation for awarding its 2014’s prize to the center’s members and praises the Foundation’s efforts in promoting and supporting people and civil society organizations that work in the field of human rights. It also states that this prize has strongly motivated its activists to carry on documenting violations committed in Syria in preparation for a real transition period in the country where perpetrators will be brought to justice and the society will be built on equality and human rights for all.

In the same context, at the end of November 2014, Fraternity Center for Democracy and Civil Society set a special annual prize for human rights activists named Struggling Lawyer Razan Zeitouneh Prize for Human Rights Defenders, the winner of which will be announced on 10th December every year to coincide with the International Day of Human Rights.

Source: Violations Documentation Center in Syria