Posted 2012/6/8

Dublin: Front Line Defenders Award 2012 goes to Razan Ghazzawi, Syria

Dlshad Othman with Front Line Defenders Award on behalf of Razan Ghazzawi

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 Society Foundations and a founder of Human Rights Watch to blogger and human rights defender Razan Ghazzawi of Syria.

"Everyone who cares about human rights is indebted to the brave defenders who keep us informed about attacks on rights. What we know about Syria today is largely due to a few persons like Razan Ghazzawi who endure severe reprisals for giving the world a window through which to see the terrible crimes committed every day”, said Mr Neier.

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 currently on trial before a military court in Syria charged with “possessing prohibited materials with the intent to disseminate them”. “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”, added Ms Lawlor.

The Front Line Defenders Award was collected in Dublin on her behalf by Mr Dlshad Othman of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression.

Since the start of the Syrian uprising, nearly a year ago, Razan, an English literature graduate from Damascus University, has become a symbol of resistance to 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.

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 an inspiration for human rights defenders across the region and her winning this Award is also a recognition for all those struggling for human rights in Syria.

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, a former colleague at the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression 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.

For further info and a video about Razan and her work see Razan Ghazzawi - Syria

The short listed 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.

Dlshad Othman is available for interview and speaks perfect English.

For Further Information Please Contact:
Jim Loughran – Head of Communications, Front Line Defenders
Tel +353 1 212 37 50 MOB +353 (0)87 93 77 586