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Originally published in French.
My daughter was kidnapped in Syria a year ago: I have no solution and no more hope.
Amnesty International has asked that I write about my daughter, Razan Zaitouneh. I’m neither a journalist, nor a writer, but I will write what comes to my mind… I will not speak of the work that Razan has done, or what her work has accomplished, because so many others have and will do this.
I will never forget those moments, at the start of the uprising in Syria, where she tried so hard to avoid arrest. She would not leave, except at night and in disguise. When she would be missing, I would have to ask about her and try to find her in secret.
I always gave her advice: to leave the country and go into exile , like so many of her friends had done. She would shake her head with a sad smile and respond that she’d never gjve up on her country. I would return to my house, so saddened and desperately praying for God to save and protect her, and impatient to see her again.
I was chocked when she told me that she had a dream to relocate to Eastern Ghouta.I asked her why, and she responded:
“Mother, it’s a safe area […]. I could live in safety, and move freely and I wouldn’t be threatened by anyone”
Despite my sorrow at her decision, which meant I would no longer be able to see her, I wanted nothing more than for her life to be stable and safe and so I accepted her decision for her safety.
After her arrival to her new home, we would communicate on Skype. Every time, she would give me the impression that was good but my heart would tell me otherwise. I often spoke of my worries to her father, but as always, she remained silent to prevent us from worrying.
When the siege on Eastern Ghouta intensified, and people began to run out of bread and other food I would always ask her if she had bread, if she had eaten. And she would respond: “Don’t worry, dear mom.” When I insisted, she laughed before admitting: “I would love some chocolate or candy… Neither I, nor the children in the neighborhood, have eaten any in a long time.”
The next day, I hurried to the market to buy all sorts of chocolates. I bought a lot because I knew that she would not eat it alone, and would distribute it to everyone around her. I bought her some medicine, because she complained of rashes on her hands, and I bought her husband Wael some medicine for his stomach… And some other items requested by her friend Samira.
Of course, I bought these items and prayed to God that I would find someone to deliver them. The area was besieged – all the roads were closed and there was nobody who would enter or exit but still, we had hope that one day we would find someone trustworthy who could go in and out.
The next morning, a year ago now, I awoke to the news that my daughter had been kidnapped along with her husband and two friends, Samira and Nazem. I could not believe what I was hearing; I thought there was a mistake, maybe some confusion. Unfortunately, the news was true.
I felt as though a noose had wrapped itself around my neck. I could not cry; my heart cried, but my eyes never shed a tear. I felt a terrible sadness engulf every part of my body.
The days and months have passed as I wait in vain… Every night, I sleep with the hope that I will wake up to good news, but to no avail. My hopes fly away and the harsh reality remains.
I lost my daughter in a liberated area where the members of the Syrian opposition should have been everywhere and where I hoped she’d be safe because her mission was to protect the civilians, no matter where they were at all times.
Right now, I do not have a solution to my situation, nor do I have hope except that God will provide her and her husband, Wael, and friends, Samira and Nazim, security.
I call for freedom for them, and to all the disappeared, missing, abducted, or detained, everywhere.