Candlelight Vigil for Syria's Silenced Voices

29 March 2015

On March 23, 2015, English PEN organized a candlelit vigil to show solidarity with prominent detained activists Mazen Darwish, Hani al-Zitani and Hussein Gharir, who were supposed to appear before the Anti-terrorism Court on March 25, for the verdict hearing.

Journalist and lawyer Mazen Darwish is the founding president of the Damascus-based Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM). Darwish was arrested more than three years ago, in February 2012, along with bloggers and fellow SCM members Hani Al-Zitani and Hussein Gharir, when their offices were raided by Syrian security forces. The three activists were held without trial until March 2014, when the General Prosecutor of the Anti-Terrorism Court of Damascus presented charges with “publicizing terrorist acts.

The vigil took place on London’s Millennium Bridge and was attended by journalists, writers and activists who raised the detainees' pictures and demanded their immediate release.

On a local level, the "Fraternity Center for Democracy and Civil Society" launched a solidarity campaign with the detained activists in the cities of Qamishli, Hasaka and Ras al-Ain.

However, the trial that has been marred by excessive delays, was suspended for the 8th time on March 25, when Darwish was not brought to court.

In 2014, Mazen Darwish shared the PEN Pinter International Writer of Courage Award with acclaimed author Salman Rushdi. From Damascus Central Prison in Adra, Darwish wrote an acceptance speech that was read during the ceremony:

“Though, there is no greater happiness for a prisoner than the knowledge that the outer world is remembering him, as devastation and bloodshed has engulfed my homeland, happiness has become a kind of luxury for which I feel ashamed.”


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Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad