Rights groups urge release of abducted Syria activists
Razan Zeitouneh, Wael Hamada, Samira Khalil and Nazem al-Hamadi were detained in the rebel-held area of Douma in 2013.
More than 50 Syrian and international rights organisations made a joint appeal Tuesday for the release of four Syrian activists abducted near Damascus a year ago.
Razan Zeitouneh, Wael Hamada, Samira Khalil and Nazem al-Hamadi were detained in the rebel-held area of Douma on December 9, 2013.
No one has claimed their abduction and the four have not been heard from since they disappeared.
The statement, signed by the Violations Documentation Centre (VDC), which several of the activists worked with, as well as New York-based Human Rights Watch, said the four appeared to have been targeted for their work.
“Such actions are prohibited by international humanitarian law and are contrary to international human rights standards,” the statement said.
“The armed groups in control of the area and the governments who support them should do everything in their power to facilitate the release” of the activists, it added.
The area where the four were abducted was and remains under rebel control, and Zeitouneh had received threats from both the regime and armed opposition groups before her abduction.
A well-known activist and lawyer, Zeitouneh was among the 2011 winners of the European parliament's human rights prize.
Hamada, her husband, worked with the VDC and the opposition Local Coordination Committees, documenting the death toll in Syria's conflict.
Khalil, another longtime activist, had been working with women in Douma on income-generating projects, and Hamadi, a founder of the LCC, was helping deliver humanitarian aid to a besieged rebel area.
More than 200,000 people have been killed since Syria's conflict began in March 2011 with peaceful protests against the government that later escalated into a multi-sided civil war.