Mazen is the President of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (CMFE), a partner organization of Reporters Without Borders which was founded in 2004.
In April 2008, Darwish and a colleague were arrested after their reporting on riots in Adra, a town near Damascus. He was later imprisoned for ten days for “defaming and insulting the administrative bodies of the state.” Thirty-five international press freedom organizations co-signed a letter protesting the sentence, describing it as part of “an ongoing pattern of harassment and detention of journalists and activists.” Darwish has also been subject to travel bans to prevent him from leaving the country.
Amnesty International designated Darwish a prisoner of conscience, “detained solely on account of his peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression and association in relation to his work with the CMFE.” More than twenty international human rights organizations, including the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, Human Rights Watch, Index on Censorship, the International Press Institute, Reporters Without Borders, and the World Organisation Against Torture, co-signed a letter calling for Mr. Darwish’s immediate release. Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of EU, also condemned the arrest, calling on Syria to release Darwish immediately.
2011 Roland Berger Human Dignity Award (shared with Tunisian lawyer Rhadia Nasraoui and The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information)
2014 Pinter International Writer of Courage Award (shared with Salman Rushdie) given by English PEN for “someone who has been persecuted for speaking out about [his or her] beliefs”
In February 2015, the International Press Institute (IPI) named Darwish a World Press Freedom Hero.
2015 He was awarded UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize on World Press Freedom Day.