Syrian blogger wins 2012 Front Line award for human rights defenders in Dublin
SYRIAN blogger and human rights activist Razan Ghazzawi has been announced as the winner of the 2012 Front Line award for human rights defenders at risk at a ceremony in Dublin.
Razan Ghazzawi is currently on trial before a military court charged with “possessing prohibited materials with the intent to disseminate them”. She and six other female activists were recently freed from detention.
They had been seized during a raid on the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression and held in the notorious Airforce Intelligence. Her colleague, and director of SCM, Mazen Darwish is currently being held in incommunicado detention with 4 other colleagues.
The annual award is presented to a human rights defender who has made an exceptional contribution to the cause of human rights.
Razan Ghazzawi is on trial because she used her blog and the power of social media to expose the crimes being committed by the Syrian regime. The ongoing trial is an attempt by the government to crackdown on free speech activists and restrict the flow of information out of Syria.
For that reason the Front Line Defenders Award was collected on her behalf by Dlshad Othman who has himself been a target for the Syrian authorities because of his human rights work and had to leave Syria 2 months ago for his own security.
Dlshad provided digital security assistance to the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression and identified and circumvented many malware programmes developed by the Syrian Government to monitor activists' activities.
The 2012 Front Line Defenders Award was presented today at a ceremony in Dublin's City Hall by Mr Aryeh Neier President of the Open Societies Foundations and a founder of Human Rights Watch.
Speaking in Dublin, Front Line Defenders Founder and Executive Director Mary Lawlor said, “the fact that this year Front Line Defenders has received more nominations for the award that ever before – 107 from 46 countries – is a sign of the increased levels of repression faced by human rights defenders in many countries around the world”.
“Razan Ghazzawi is typical of the selfless courage shown by all the human rights defenders nominated for this year's Award. She has challenged the repressive forces of the Syrian regime and has chosen not to hide behind a pseudonym but to speak out publicly. In doing so she has become a force to be reckoned with,” said Ms Lawlor.
Since the start of the Syrian uprising, nearly a year ago, Razan, an English literature graduate from Damascus University, has become a symbol of the resistance to the repression by the Syrian Government. She is known for her fierce criticism of the Government, mostly expressed on her blog Razaniyyat and via her twitter account @RedRazan.
Her blog can be read at http://razanghazzawi.org/
Razan Ghazzawi is a tireless defender of human rights, not only in her native Syria but throughout the Arab world and beyond. She is an active blogger who also works for the SCM advocating for journalists and bloggers under threat. . She has stood up for minority rights, including LGBT rights in the Arab world and the rights of Palestinians. She is constantly reviewing her points of view, and constantly rethinking and re-imagining how best to be an advocate.
The shortlisted nominees for the 2012 Front Line Defenders Award included:
· Cuba: Ivonne Mallezo Galano
· Malawi: Rafiq Hazat
· Vietnam: Dr Cu Huy Ha Vu
· Egypt: Mona Seif
· Syria: Ms Razan Ghazzawi
To coincide with the Award, Front Line Defenders has launched a new social media campaign encouraging members of the public to share the video profiles of the 5 shortlisted nominees with their friends via Facebook and Twitter. http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/