What Razan Ghazzawi Can Teach Us about Taking Action

Razan during The 3rd Arab Bloggers Meeting Oct. 2011, in Tunis. (Photo: Flickr - Ibtihel Zaatouri)

If you haven't heard the story yet, Razan Ghazzawi is the latest among a dozen bloggers, activists, and journalists who have been detained since the nine month uprising calling for the ousting of President Bashar Assad erupted in March.

Ghazzawi was detained on Dec. 4 at the Jordanian border by Syrian immigration as she tried to cross into Jordan to attend a conference on press freedom in the Arab world. Currently, she is being held in Adra prison and faces a potential 3- to -15-year prison sentence.

On Monday, Syrian authorities charged Ghazzawi with membership to a secret organisation, which aims to change the economic and social status of the state, conveying within Syria false news that could debilitate the morale of the nation and weakening national sentiment, violating Article 335 of the Syrian penal code -- banning participation in a riotous demonstration -- and inciting sectarian strife.

Who is Razan?
Razan, 31, is a blogger, feminist and human rights activist who has campaigned for the release of political prisoners and documented human rights abuses.

Prominent Egyptian blogger Zeinobia praises Razan's revolutionary spirit:

Razan has been active and outspoken when it comes to injustice. She is among a few Syrian bloggers that blog with her real name. She is U.S. born yet she is an Arab leftist nationalist. I think Razan Ghazzawi is the second female Syrian blogger to be arrested after Tal Malhoi.

I remember once, during the revolution in Egypt, Razan tweeted about how she and her family were glued in front of the TV every afternoon till late night watching Tahrir square in those 18 days and how she cried when Mubarak was ousted. Razan is another Syrian, among thousands of Syrians, detained for no reason except they want freedom and democracy.
Since 2009, Razan has been maintaining Razaniyyat where she blogs, mainly in English, about human rights, women's and gay rights, as well as Arab and Syrian affairs. She is also the media coordinator for the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression.

Syrian Uprising
On Wednesday, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, urged the United Nations (UN) Security Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity. The call comes as the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) prepares to release a report also calling for Syria's referral to the ICC.

According to recent UN statistics, the brutal crackdown has left more than five thousand dead while thousands more continue to languish in prison. Today alone, violence across Syria has killed at least twenty-five people and the death toll is rising by the minute.

Time to Take Action
Since Razan's arrest, more than four thousand people have joined the Facebook campaign Free Syrian Blogger & Activist Razan Ghazzawi and started an online petition to demand intervention by the Arab League and the US government.

Twitter users have also launched the hashtag #FreeRazan to show solidarity.

As you can see, Razan was a person of action. So here's a list of ways that you can also take action:
  • Write an email or send a fax to your local politician, Foreign Minister, members of parliament of congress. Use the internet to find their contact details or see this list of emails. Razan is an American Citizen – here is a list of US Embassies to contact demanding they take urgent action.
  • Use your profile photo to draw attention to Razan’s arrest and the plight of all prisoners in Syria via Twibbon or you can use this image, or make your own.
  • Use the tag #FreeRazan to share links, videos, news from #Syria – keep attention levels UP, don’t let this important news be overpowered by other stories and fade from view.
  • Post news and links to FaceBook, blog, forums, and in comments on videos and news posts about Syria. If you write, please write about this issue.
  • Schedule tweets for when you can’t be online – use Dlvr IT for feeds or Buffer for individual tweets. Also, Razan’s twitter account is currently being managed by her friends and supporters. Follow her if you’re not already @RedRazan for important updates.
  • Join the Free Razan FaceBook page and share the page with all your friends.
If you have more ideas, please share them here.