Prominent Syrian lawyers, activists named among Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2022
Darwish and Mazen, who are regarded as some of the most high-profile Syrian activists, were named in the famed magazine’s list’s ‘pioneers’ section.
The lawyers have both endured imprisonment in Syria and fled to Europe, where they have been living in exile in Germany since, where they took it upon themselves to legally support German prosecutors with pursuing senior Syrian government officers for their crimes against humanity.
Very very well-deserved recognition of @anwaralbounni and @mazenadarwish3 among @Time's 100 most influential people of 2022 for their leading efforts in ensuring justice for atrocities committed in #Syria. Thank you for your work, passion, and sacrifice. https://t.co/1vdOdRGtMr pic.twitter.com/raiTXgY6Nf— Sara Kayyali (@skayyali1) May 24, 2022
Darwish is also a free speech advocate and the president of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression.
In 2012, he was arrested and imprisoned for three years by men believed to be part of the Syrian Air Forces’ intelligence services. The lawyer, along with three other activists, were accused of promoting "terrorist acts,” despite calls from rights activists to free them. Darwish was subsequently released in 2015, and recounted incidents of torture carried out against him.
Meanwhile, Al-Bunni is a lawyer who has represented clients such as the opposition figure Riad Al-Turk, as well as Riad Seif, who owned an independent newspaper that was closed down by the Syrian regime.
Al-Bunni was imprisoned in 2006 for five years after having signed the Beirut-Damascus Declaration calling for democratic freedom. He was then released in 2008, and was dubbed as a prisoner of conscience by the likes of Amnesty International.
During the historic Anwar Raslan trial, which began in April 2020, the lawyers provided evidence against the Syrian military intelligence officer, interviewed witnesses, and even testified against him. The landmark trial that saw Raslan convicted of crimes against humanity for overseeing the systematic torture of detainees, and sentenced to life in January this year.
Darwish and Al-Bunni’s efforts proved vital for the case. Kenneth Roth, the executive director for Human Rights Watch who penned their tribute in the magazine said that their work “provides” hope for justice in similar cases, and paid a major of respect to the victims.