Many Syrian activists objected the focus on the cowardly kidnap of Syrian activist Razan Zeitouneh and her companions, her husband and collegue, Wael Hamada, the wife of the intellectual dissident Yassin Haj Saleh, Samira Khalil, and the lawyer Nazim Hamadi.
The four are all working as activists with the human rights organization, the Violations Documentation Center, which was trying to objectively document human rights violations and war crimes committed by any party.
Activists' objections – most often voiced on Facebook and from activists residing outside of Syria – were based on the idea that all Syrians are equal; that there is no justification for greater attention on the abduction of a particular activist while thousands of Syrians are exposed daily to massive violations of human rights and not mentioned by name.
I agree with this idea to a large extent. Every Syrian individual is the most important for his family, friends and loved ones. However, the story cannot stop here. It doesn’t harm Syria and the Syrian cause to focus on some leaders, writers and activists more than others if they deserve it .
Why are Razan Zeitouneh and her companions more worthy of attention? Principally, Razan is not the daughter of our revolution, she is one of its creators. Through her ongoing struggle in the field of human rights, as a lawyer and activist, a founder and director of the Human Rights Information in Syria site, she was establishing a great revolution for the Syrian people. This is a revolution of which the whole world opposed its civil foundations and tried to change its democratic face.
Through her daily relationship with detainees, their families and victims of the fascist regime's repression, she contributed so much in raising the morale of Syrians and the threshold of their endurance and acceptance of injustice.
When revolutions started in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, Razan was a major player in the search for ways in which their experience could be transferred to Syria.
Razan, along with many other activists, was behind the famous sit-ins of detainees' families and friends in front of the Ministry of the Interior on 16 March, 2011, which helped ignite the Syrian uprising, which officially began two days later in Deraa, eventually reaching all Syrian cities and towns.
Razan is the one who, until now, defends the peaceful revolution and highlights its civil face, always trying to draw attention to the role of women and youth and always prefering civil work to armed action.
When the revolution moved to the armed phase, she continued work to rationalise the actions of the gunmen, refusing to partake in revenge or sectarian action. She was, and remains, a tenacious campaigner against kidnappings and justified the ends by the means.
Razan insisted on staying inside Syria despite all the serious dangers that she was exposed to, both from regime's fascist repression and its sectarian militias. Razan was the number 1 wanted activist for all the Syrian security services, and she was a legitimate target for the Shabbiha. Despite this, she stayed in Damascus, then moved to Ghouta at the beginning of the siege there to provide support and relief to the people. she never stopped her work at the VDC for one day.
Razan was professional and rigid in documentation procedures; she did not accept just any piece of information and did not publish information unless it was certified by more than one party. Therefore, the VDC has become the most credible source for international and regional organizations and local activists and Syrian opposition forces.
Razan could leave Syria at any time and if she had done so, she would have received a heroes welcome in any Western capital. She would have been granted legal status and had the opportunity to live a good life as some leaders of the opposition live today. But she refused the successive offers, instead insisting on staying in Syria to share the contaminated bread and water with the remaining steadfast Syrians in their homes and towns.
Razan is the friend of everyone. She did not close her line of communication for a single day. She is also the friend of cats. When media reports emerged saying that people in some besieged areas were eating cats, she threatened on her Facebook page that anyone who tries to harm her cat, will suffer from the dire consequences.
Months before her abduction, Razan was the subject of serious threats by masked gunmen who fired several warning shots at her home in liberated Ghouta, leaving a letter reading: "It is enough for today". It seems that the masked men contented themselves with this for a short period of time before attacking her again, destroying and confiscating the materials in her center as Shabbiha would do, before taking her with her companions to an unknown location.
In one of her interviews, Razan said: "I did not feel scared, but I felt in the beginning a lot of bitterness. I thought for a moment to go to an isolated place to continue the work I started. But it was a moment of frustration, nothing more. I'm not on a 'mission' here. I said: I live! When there is nothing more to do, I will close the door of my house…in the liberated area of my country."
All this makes Razan distinct from other activists. And, while there is no doubt that they all deserve appreciation, Razan and her companions, Wael, Samira and Nazim are from a different make.
Release Razan. Release Syria!