Razan Zaitouneh started her professional life as a lawyer defending detainees of freedom of opinion and expression, as she had been a member of the defence team for defending political and opinion detainees since she graduated from law school in Damascus in 1999. She was also a co-founder of Human Rights Association in Syria. Razan Zaitouneh, the human rights activist and Syrian writer, had to hide her human rights and media activism. She has been nevertheless reporting through international media what has been happening in Syria regarding violations practiced by the Regime against demonstrators and detainees in its prisons since the beginning of the Syrian crisis.
However, her activism didn’t start with the outbreak of the protests in Syria, rather, it started when she graduated and engaged in defending political detainees. In 2005, Zaitouneh founded The Association of Human Rights Information in Syria to be a database of the regime’s human rights violations. Her further activism involved participation in the committee to support the families of the political detainees in Syria.
Her activism was not only directed at human rights; she was also among the most active writers in Syria. She published dozens of articles and reports in the Arab and foreign press that observed the reality of the lack of general freedoms and human rights in Syria.
With the beginning of the revolution, she participated in founding the local coordination committees. For this, the Syrian intelligence broke into her house in Damascus, inspected the things inside, and confiscated many of her papers and personal belongings. They also detained her brother-in-law, who was there by coincidence. He was taken as a hostage in exchange for her and her husband.
After that incident, Razan moved to live in Eastern Ghuta, which is under the control of the Islamic Front led by Zahran Alloush. Beside the daily shelling Eastern Ghuta is exposed to, it is considered to be completely closed due to the siege imposed on it by the Regime.
On the tenth of December, 2013, Razan was kidnapped from her work center together with the team of the Center of Documenting Violations in Syria, which includes her husband, Wael Hamada, and two of her colleagues, Sameera Alkhalil and Nazem Alhamadi. They were kidnapped by unknown armed people in the Eastern Duma area, where the team worked documenting the violations and assaults the oppositionists and activists are exposed to in Syria.
Razan Zaitouneh had gained many rewards in the field of freedom of the press, including Anna Politkovskaya’s reward for human rights’ defenders and Andrei Sakharov’s reward given from the European Parliament.