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05.11.18

Shalom prize: 25,000 euros in donations for Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression

The Shalom campaign 2018 came to a close in late October. The working group ‘Shalom für Gerechtigkeit und Frieden’ has now announced that they managed to raise 25,000 euros in donations which were transferred to the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM). Yara Bader, who accepted the Shalom prize in Eichstätt on behalf of the SCM on June 23, 2018, has announced that her husband Mazen Darwish and she would be using the prize money for transformational work in the Syrian society and the fight for jurisdiction on an international level. Mazen Darwish had founded the network fighting for freedom of expression in 2004. He had to endure three and a half years in prison in Damascus, where he was tortured. Mazen and his wife fled Syria in 2015 and have been living in exile in Berlin since then. They continue their work for the SCM in Berlin together with other journalists who have fled.


The picture showing the SCM members with the dove of peace created by the artist Richard Hillinger was taken in Paris. Mazen Darwish (middle) and several Syrian journalists are currently working in Paris in order to achieve that high-ranking officers of the Assad regime are also prosecuted in France. These officers are to be held accountable for torturing and murdering many thousands in Syria. In Germany, Public Prosecutor General Frank had issued an international arrest warrant for a general of the air force intelligence service in June, which is possible in accordance with the rule of law. (Photo: working group Shalom)

The picture showing the SCM members with the dove of peace created by the artist Richard Hillinger was taken in Paris. Mazen Darwish (middle) and several Syrian journalists are currently working in Paris in order to achieve that high-ranking officers of the Assad regime are also prosecuted in France. These officers are to be held accountable for torturing and murdering many thousands in Syria. In Germany, Public Prosecutor General Frank had issued an international arrest warrant for a general of the air force intelligence service in June, which is possible in accordance with the rule of law. (Photo: working group Shalom)

At the end of July, the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression received terrible news. Ten associated members, journalists and human rights activists who have disappeared in Syrian prisons since 2011 were now declared dead by the regime. Yara Bader and Mazen Darwish were shocked by the news which has now become a sad certainty, as they have not only lost fellow campaigners but also close friends. Many of them died under cruel torture. Abdul Ghany, head of the Syrian Network for Human Rights, explained that in Syria, an estimated 80,000 people have been arbitrarily arrested, held without charge and disappeared in the regime’s torture chambers since 2011.

Relatives were deliberately kept in the dark and have spent years and all their savings to find out where their loved ones were held or whether they were even still alive. During the last days, family members reported that authorities had silently updated the civil registers to mark the detainees as “deceased”. Deaths were dated back to the year 2013. Families were not allowed to bury their dead – the corpses remained in the hands of the regime. It was even dangerous to life to show public mourning. As Mazen Darwish explained, the regime now felt sufficiently safe in power to inform the relatives of the death of their loved ones.

About the working group Shalom
Since 1981, the working group for justice and peace at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt has been fighting for human rights. The working group is exclusively supported by voluntary workers, mainly students and citizens of Eichstätt. Its aim is to contribute to the protection of human rights and global peace. Each year, the Shalom group focuses on a different country or region. The highlight of the group’s engagement is the annual award of the Shalom prize, one of the highest value human rights prizes in Germany. Previous prizewinners include, amongst others, Lech Waleza (1983), activist Bertha Cáceres Flores (2012; her organization fought for the rights of indigenous tribes in Honduras) who was killed two years ago; and Robi Damelin and Mazen Faraj (2016; for the Palestinian-Israeli organization “Parents Circle Family Forum”). For further information, please visit www.ak-shalom.com.