Sad loss of Naser al-Raas

I share sorrowful news with you this morning, news that many of you have heard already as it is spreading quickly through social media.

Our dear friend and valiant human rights defender Naser al-Raas died at 2 a.m. this morning.

As may of you know he has been in Toronto for the past 10 days for extensive tests which we hoped would ready him for an eventual heart and lungs transplant. Sadly his health declined quickly last week, including a heart attack last Wednesday at which time his heart stopped for a full 14 minutes.  He did not regain consciousness after that. This morning his heart stopped completely and he could not be revived. It is so painfully sad that it is Naser’s heart – which was so full of love, joy and inspiration – that was not able to keep this wonderful young man going.

My heart is broken in many ways today, particularly when I think of his family, who Naser loved so deeply.

We will most certainly consider ways that we can honour Naser for all that he stood for, and all that he was for so many of us.

I want to express deep appreciation, and give an enormous, encompassing embrace of condolence, to our very special colleagues who have been at  the heart of a remarkable group of women who I have been affectionately termed “Team Naser”. They have poured time, heart and concern into supporting Naser and his family during this difficult and demanding week; we are all so fortunate that they have been Amnesty’s ear, shoulders and heart for them over the past 1 ½ weeks. I wish we could gather together this morning and share some tears, hugs and memories.  

With a heavy heart dear friends,

Alex Neve, Secretary General
Amnesty International Canada