Written by Sara al Suri
Thursday, 27 March 2014 16:52
Samira Khalil and Razan Zeitouneh: The struggle against Assad, the struggle against counter revolution, the struggle against machismo.
Revolutionary Syrian Women have been at the fronts of the Syrian Revolution from its very first days. This was only natural. Being women, they had a double burden to carry: Oppressed and exploited not only by a patriarchal capitalist ruling regime of Al Assad, but also by fellow comrades on their side of the barricades. Razan Zeitouneh and Samira Al Khalil are only two of the many names that have become symbols of struggle for women and Syria and beyond, fighting for freedom, dignity, and social justice.
Razan Zeitouneh is a Syrian human rights lawyer and founder of the Violations Documentation Center (VDC), in addition to being the network of Local Coordination Committees leading founders Nationally. On the 9th of December 2013, Razan, along with four other comrades, including Samira Khalil who worked in the center, were abducted in the town of Douma in the Eastern Ghouta of Damascus, the capital of Syria. All sides agree that it was not the regime who abducted the activists, given it is a very tightly controlled rebel area. All also agree, however, that the regime is the primary beneficiary of such abductions. Many portray the abductions as ideologically inspired, given that both Razan and Samira were part of a strongly secular and inclusive movement. Directly, or indirectly, armed rebels controlling the neighborhood are responsible, the most important of which is the Army of Islam, led by Zahran Alloush.
The second half of 2013 saw the abduction of more than 50 Syrian and international activists, most of them working in media. More than 90% of the abductions were carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a counter revolutionary force who many think collaborates with Assad forces to stifle the revolution in the liberated zones of the country, mainly by arresting its main agitators. However, the ISIL has little or no presence in Damascus.
The abduction of revolutionary women and the ensuing silence from the neighborhood they were abducted from is a worrying phenomenon in the Syrian revolution. In the north of the country, the governorate of Raqqah, activists and the local population came out in apposition to the abduction of fellow revolutionaries by ISIL- however, harshened by the situation of an entire siege by the Assad regime for more than a year, a deafening silence hovers over Douma, where Razan and Samira were abducted. It is very important that we do not forget their names, and do not legitimize or excuse their abduction, for not only does it pose a threat to the path of the Syrian revolution, but its very victory depends on its ability to denounce and overcome machismo represented ultimately by the Assad regime, but also present amongst revolutionary ranks. Razan Zeitouneh and Samira Khalil were an inspiration to many activists, especially women all over Syria, who continued their work amidst the bombs, the chemical weapons, starvation, and snipers, but also amidst threats from counter revolutionary forces. In their name, Razan and Samira will be present here with us and in all our struggles!