Noura Ghazi Smiles

Noura Ghazi

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About Noura Ghazi

Hi, I’m Noura. I’m an International Human Rights Lawyer.

I’m the Executive Director of Nophotozone, a non-governmental organisation that seeks to promote legal awareness, human rights and knowledge, related to cases of detention and enforced disappearances.

I have professional legal licenses as Solicitor under training (2004), Bar of Damascus (2004), Lawyer (2006), and Professional trainer for children and women rights, certified by Amman center for human rights studies (2007).

In 2016, I wrote a poetry book called Waiting….

Since 2021, I am fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP).

In 2021, I became a Marianne Inititiative Laureate as part of President Macron’s initiative “to strengthen France’s action in support of human rights defenders.”

I have a Wikipedia entry:



Noura Ghazi is an International Human Rights lawyer. She has helped over 1,000 detainees and their families in Syria. She is the Co-founder and Executive Director of Nophotozone, the global NGO providing legal assistance, empowerment, and advocacy for detainees and their families and families of those forcibly disappeared in Syria. In 2015, she wrote a poetry book “Waiting…” to her husband Bassel Khartabil, famed technology innovator and nonviolent activist, while he was detained. In late 2015, Bassel was disappeared in Syria. In August 2017, Noura discovered evidence that Bassel had been executed shortly after his forced disappearance. In 2017 and 2018, Ghazi spoke Internationally about Human Rights at the United Nations and European Union regularly. Noura’s work has been covered by the BBC, Financial Times, NPR, NBC, The Telegraph, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Le Monde, and Al Jazeera. In 2018 Ghazi was named by Amnesty International as one of the “8 kick-ass women standing up for our rights.” She studied law at Damascus University. In 2021, French President Macron selected Noura as one of the first Marianne Initiative Laureates. Since 2021, she has been a Tahrir Institute Fellow. She is from Damascus, Syria. She lives and works in Paris.

Bio (3rd Person)

Noura Ghazi was born in Damascus, Syria on September 30th 1981. Her family had a long history of political activism against the dictatorship in Syria since 1963 and moreover since the start of the period of “Father Assad” in 1970, as her parents had met that year during a protest.

Ghazi’s motivation to become a lawyer is because her father was detained, tortured and disappeared around 9 times.

Ghazi graduated from the University of Damascus College of Law in 2003 with an emphasis oncriminal law. In 2004, she began an internship as a trainee lawye. In 2006, she became a practicing lawyer.

Since 2004, she began defending political prisoners before the Syrian Supreme Security State Court. She also independently studied international laws relating to human rights on her own and through workshops outside of Syria, as it was forbidden and very risky to do so in Syria. She began practicing with international laws relating to women and children rights and became a trainer in 2007, the same year that Syrian authorities banned her from traveling outside of Syria for her human rights activism. This ban lasted until 2014.

During those years and before the start of the Syrian revolution, she became a member of the Arab Organization for Human Rights (Syria branch). She aso did many studies on orphanages in Syria, sexual abuse against children, sexual abuse and exploitation against Iraqi Female refugees. She also studied labor practices using minors and gender inequality.

With the start of the Syrian revolution in 2011, she dedicated her time to fight for defending and supporting political detainees and families of disappeared and missing. She began to study and get many diplomas on international and domestic laws related to detention, forcible disappearance, missing persons, torture, death penalty, advocacy and campaigning. She also gathered countless testimonies, dealing with trauma, rehabilitation, community organizing, identification of bodies and remains. She also became an expert at protecting mass graves, international human rights law, international criminal law, and international humanitarian law.

She met her late husband Bassel Khartabil Safadi, a prominent Palestinian Syrian activist and global programmer during a protest in Eastern Ghouta (County in Damascus) in April 2011. Bassel was detained on March 15th 2012, just two weeks before their wedding, he was disappeared for 9 months in unofficial detention centers and the infamous military jail, Saidnaya where he was subjected to torture, hunger and ill-treatment before finally being transferred to the Central Prison of Damascus. Ghazi and Khartabil were finally married in prison on January 7th 2013.

As Bassel was referred to the military field court, Noura knew his life was in danger. With friends and volunteers across the world they launched the Free Bassel Campaign, which was one of the most important and famous human rights campaigns globally.

Through the Free Bassel campaign, she got the attention of the international community and pushed international actors to pay attention to the larger plight of Syrians in detention, being tortured, put through exceptional courts, doing summary executions and making forcible disappearances. With this recognition of these extraordinary human rights abuses, these cases were put into all international forums, along with the efforts of other Syrian and international NGOs.

She spent 3 years visiting Bassel and hundreds of other male detainees in Adra prison at least 3 times a week, through bombing, clashes and snipers. She provided all kinds of legal, emotional, personal and financial support to detainees and their families, struggling to make them heard and seen. She was one of the most essential resources for international actors and NGOs for accessing information to detention centers.

In 2015, Bassel was taken from Adra prison by a patrol of Military police to the Military field court. With the her efforts, major governments were pushing the Syrian authorities to reveal his fate. Hundreds of media reports were made and hundreds of NGOs, activists and the Internet were demanding his immediate release.

For almost two years, Noura was non-stop seeking to obtain any information until August 2017, she finally declared that Bassel was executed by the military field court just two days after his transfer from Adra prison. This was a great shock for people everywhere. Since that time she has kept fighting to get his remains and information on the location of his burial site, in order to provide finality to the certainty of Bassel’s death and to find out where his body might be buried.

In 2018, Noura was forced to leave Syria and moved to Lebanon. After many threats to be killed and many arrest warrants against her, she considered leaving to the UK to do a masters in international human rights law, but after few months in Beirut, she decided it was mor important to stay in Beirut and to make her dream with Bassel of establishing NoPhotoZone, a women led and women targeted NGO, a reality.

NoPhotozone now is a French non-profit and non-governmental organization founded in 2018 to provide legal support, psychological support, advocacy for victims of detention, torture, forcible disappearance, forcible displacement for the missing and their families in Syria, Lebanon and Turkey.

She is a co-founder of the Families for Freedom movement in 2016, which is the first family association in Syria.

She is a co-founder of Voice Up Families Association in 2022, which is located in Lebanon and has 100 Syrian women refugees who are former detainees and family members of current detainees and disappeared.

She is a co-founder of Qarar Band, which is a musical band of 8 male and female youth refugees in Lebanon, all sons and daughters of forcibly disappeared.

In 2015, Noura authored the book “Waiting…”. In 2020, she co-authored the book Syrian law. She is the writer of many articles and studies.

She has received many international recognitions, such as being one of “8 Kick-ass women in the world” by Amnesty International – 2018. She is “one of the most prominent 14 women human rights defenders in the world”, said Amnesty International in 2019, And, in 2021, she was in the first group of Marianne Initiative Laureates awarded by French President Macron.

Through the Syrian Revolution, she received many titles such as the “Bride of the Syrian Revolution”, and “100 faces of the Syrian revolution”.

There are countless articles about her in major international media in addition to movies and books including her life and work.