Photo: Megan Mackenzie

Al Jazeera English called for the immediate release of Dorothy Parvaz, after Syrian officials confirmed Wednesday that they are holding her. Dorothy Parvaz was detained on Friday when she arrived in Damascus to cover Syrian protests for Al Jazeera English. Parvaz, who uses the name D. Parvaz professionally, joined Al Jazeera in 2010. She previously worked as a columnist and feature writer for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. She holds American, Canadian and Iranian passports.

D. Parvaz would be appalled and embarrassed at the attention being paid to her right now. As her colleague for close to 10 years (and her editor for part of that time) at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, I was always struck, even puzzled, by her desire — correction, her need — for privacy. It was an odd request by someone who wrote a satirical weekly column and generated a fair amount of reader feedback. Nonetheless, she did not want her photo to be used with her column — we used an artist’s caricature instead — and she was always careful to stay out of the public eye, kind of like a restaurant critic trying to preserve her anonymity. She’d be happy to do a radio guest spot, but TV? Not so much. Even her byline — D. Parvaz — is an intentional bit of camouflage.

Of course, D.’s face is everywhere these days. On Facebook. In newspapers. All over the blogs. She’s everywhere because, oddly, she’s nowhere to be seen. She disappeared last Friday in Damascus, Syria, while on assignment for Al Jazeera English. Those of us who adore her and miss her believe she’ll be released unharmed. This is what has happened to other journalists detained by the Syrian government. Syrian authorities confirmed Wednesday that D. is indeed in their custody, but it doesn’t make us feel any better.

So we continue to email and call the Syrian embassy (as1@syrembassy.net; 202-232-6313, ext. 139). We can’t let them forget that D. is constantly in our thoughts and that we’ll continue to badger Syrian authorities until she is released. If you cherish independent thought and journalistic freedom as much as D. Parvaz does, please do likewise.

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  • stac May 5, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Looks like you know our Dorothy all too well!! You couldn’t have said it any better! that is exactly how she will feel when she comes home, im sure! I LOVE your article as it is her. Thank you!! let her detention be over, it;s been long enough, and she has done NOTHING wrong!

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