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Watch the Freedom Collection’s new interview with Syrian dissident and democracy activist Radwan Ziadeh. Ziadeh grew up in a middle class family in Damascus and became politically active after President Hafez Assad died in 2000 and was succeeded by his son, Bashar Assad. In 2005, Ziadeh founded the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies. Through his Center, Ziadeh acted as an international advocate for the cause of Syrian freedom. Speaking at venues like the United Nations Human Rights Council, Ziadeh raised awareness about human rights abuses being committed by the Assad regime. As Ziadeh intensified the spotlight on Syria, the government retaliated by placing a travel ban on his family, effectively imprisoning them in Syria, or stranding those traveling abroad in third countries. In 2007, Ziadeh fled Syria for the United States as the Assad government issued a warrant for his arrest. In March 2011, Syrians revolted against President Bashar Assad. The country descended into a civil war that has been defined by a tense standoff between the remnants of the regime and diverse opposition forces. In 2012, Ziadeh seized the opportunity afforded him by the revolution and visited his homeland for the first time in five years. He continues to reside in the United States and works through organizations like the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies and the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies to rebuild Syria into a free and democratic society. Beyond the chaos and bloodshed, Ziadeh is optimistic that Syria will rebound from this catastrophe, “And it still continues, the struggle for democracy and freedom. And I’m sure that the Syrian people will prevail at the end, despite of the high cost of Syrian lives.” However, he also believes that greater international support is crucial in defeating Bashar Assad and stabilizing his country: “And we don’t know when it will end if there is no international support for the Syrian people; they are bleeding for international support, for the United States to take actions…more than 35,000 have been killed, more than two and a half million have been displaced inside Syria, and more than half a million displaced as refugees in neighboring countries.” Watch Radwan Ziadeh’s interview here. This post was written by Christopher Walsh, Program Coordinator of the Freedom Collection.
Christopher Walsh serves as a Manager for the Human Freedom Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. In this role, Christopher manages communications, evaluation, and public policy research projects that advance freedom and democracy in the world. He also develops and implements efforts to make the Bush Institute a welcoming place for today’s generation of dissidents and democracy advocates, overseeing visits for training, inspiration, and insight.
Prior to joining the Bush Institute, Christopher worked with the International Republican Institute in Washington, D.C. As IRI’s program officer for Central and Eastern Europe, he coordinated political party building and civic advocacy programs in the Balkans and Turkey.
A native of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Christopher is a graduate of American University with a B.A. in International Studies. He currently lives in Dallas with his wife and three young children.Full Bio
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