MESA Academic Freedom Award
Dr. Radwan Ziadeh is a founder and director of the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies. A prominent advocate for human rights and reform in Syria, Ziadeh has frequently given talks in and outside Syria on the status of human rights and democratic reform in Syria, Ziadeh was editor of Tayarat magazine in 2001–2002 and served as secretary of the Syrian Organization for Transparency. In 2004, he was named the best political science researcher in the Arab world by Jordan’s Abdulhameed Shoman Foundation. He was also a principal figure and activist in the Damascus Spring, a period of intense debate about politics and social issues and calls for reform in Syria after the death of President Hafez al-Assad in 2000.
Following an extended period of intensive surveillance by Syrian security agencies, and based on indications that he was about to be detained, Ziadeh fled Syria in mid-2007. He received a Jennings Randolph Senior Fellowship from the U.S. Institute of Peace for the 2007-2008 academic year, and was then selected as a “Scholar at Risk,” by Harvard University where he spent the 2008-2009 academic year in residence at the Kennedy School. Having left Syria without government permission, Ziadeh is not able to return to his home country.
MESA is pleased to honor Dr. Radwan Ziadeh with its 2009 Academic Freedom Award.