Hanadi Zahlout is a writer and activist from the coastal city of Latakia. Her work began years before the revolution where she was active in circles promoting social justice and as an advocate for women and children’s rights. She often wrote under an alias to circumvent the restrictions placed on journalists and the danger they often faced in a country where no independent media was permitted.
When the revolution broke out Hanadi documented initial infringements on human rights by the regime with their crackdown on the protest movement, and also recorded abuses and crimes carried out by the security services. She provided valuable information to the outside world of what was happening on the ground in Damascus.
Arrested on the 4th August 2011, like thousands of other protestors and activists, Hanadi was subjected to brutal mistreatment in detention. She was placed in solitary confinement and forced to witness the torture of friends until she ‘confessed’ to her participation in the protest movement. She was detained three times by the regime in total, on one occasion sharing imprisonment with Tal al Mallohi (a Palestinian blogger who was arrested by the regime in 2009).
Hanadi is a glowing example of the universality of Syrian’s struggle for a better life. Of Alawite origin, her presence on the front lines of protests and staunch position within activist circles demonstrated the true values of the Syrian revolution; a joint struggle against oppression which aimed to overcome divisions based ethnic origin, religion and class. She has campaigned for the rights of Syrian women, and has highlighted the central role they have played in the past ten years of resistance to the regime, drawing attention to the multiple roles women have assumed: “she is the mother, the doctor, the protestor, the paramedic, and the journalist doing whatever the revolution requires” .
Hanadi was eventually forced to leave Syria due to threats to her safety. Yet she remained active within the Local Coordination Committees connecting international media outlets to local activists within Syria and has mentored younger activists to carry this important work forward. She has chronicled periods of her life, including her imprisonment, in a biography titled “To My Daughter”.