NOLUSAPHO MANDELA- PERRY, SOUTH AFRICA (NELSON MANDELA’S DAUGHTER-IN-LAW)
I am here to be a part of the support given to the women held in Syria’s prisons. We want them to know that South Africa and the Mandela family are on the side of women who are being tortured in Syria. We know that they are held in prisons, being subjected to torture and rape. I have come here for this very reason from South Africa, from Mandela’s home. I stand side by side both with local and international women who are here today to denounce the inhumane war in Syria. We also resorted to the power of media to make our problems known to the world when Mandela was in prison, and this gave us a significant advantage. I believe that the Convoy of Conscience will make a difference. This is enough, this war has to stop. It is inhumane to keep threatening the lives of people in Syria. We can make a difference about what is going on in Syria if we unite together as a joined force.
RAMIZA GURDIĆ, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA (MOTHERS OF SREBRENICA REPRESENTATIVE)
The Convoy of Conscience is of great significance to me. I went through the same in 1995. I lost my husband and two sons due to war. While they could identify the bodies of my husband and one of my sons, they only managed to find the head of the other one. I can tell, based on my personal experience, that the people in Syria are going through the same suffering we went through in Srebrenica. A bullet only kills, but torture is horrible. I think no one can understand these women better than me. They were going to leave me in Srebrenica, but I asked them not to inflict that pain on me even if it meant being shot to death. They found the bodies of my husband and of one of my sons, but they wanted to deliver me only the head of my other son. That was not the way I had given birth to him. On behalf of the mothers and sisters of Srebrenica, I want to tell the women in Syria to stay strong. We have not given up on them. We have been on the road since March 3. We set out on this journey for them. Some others were speaking on our behalf while we were suffering similar pains. God shall help our sisters in Syria as he helped us.
YVONNE RIDLEY, SCOTLAND (JOURNALIST, ACTIVIST)
I took part in the convoy because The UN & governments both East & West failed to act on the desperate plight of women prisoners trapped in Assad’s jails. It took 10,000 like-minded women from 55 nations, led by our Turkish sisters, to give voice to the voiceless. Now that we have shone a light on this dark underbelly of the Assad regime we cannot stop until every woman and child is free. The Conscience Convoy must keep rolling until every woman in the world gets on board and gives the ones in Syrian prisons a voice. They must be heard, their screams no longer ignored.
OLGA BOGOMOLETS, UKRAINE (MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT)
War is a terrible thing. We too have seen war in Ukraine. When I was working as a doctor, 16 boys died in my arms because of war. And I know very well that who cannot protect their own women, cannot protect their own children. In Kiev city center children were killed in front of my eyes. Thousands of women remained widowed in my country, and thousands of children remained without mother and father. Today I am here for the Syrian women who suffer the same pain. We will do whatever it takes to save these women.
MUNAZA HASSAN, PAKISTAN (MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT)
This is the first time so many people have gathered together for such a cause. Anyone who has an influence in this area must take action at once. We have joined the Convoy of Conscience to offer support to our sisters in Syria, and our struggle will continue until they are free. Those who remain silent in the face of such atrocities are just as guilty as the perpetrators. All humans must demand an end to the killing of women and children in Syria. We have suffered enough already. The mothers and children of Syria are suffering terribly. We suffered similar atrocities to those suffered by our Syrian sisters today. Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians died. The oppressors are the same wherever you go. What is going on in Syria and the stories handed down to us by older generations are the same in terms of the human suffering they cause. The war in Syria must end at once. The ongoing politics are a scourge upon the people. Those who continue to be silent in the face of the atrocities are just as guilty as the perpetrators. I believe the Convoy of Conscience will ensure important progress in terms of getting our Syrian sisters’ voices heard around the world and will give rise to very positive results. Anyone who has suffered this kind of pain can feel for Syria. Therefore I believe people will mobilize their conscience.
DATO’ SRI DR. ZALEHA KAMARUDDIN, MALAYSIA (RECTOR OF INTERNATIONAL ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY MALAYSIA)
I am here with my female friends from Malaysia to show my solidarity with these women. We have come to show them that we stand by them and to show the world how strong we stand. We demand freedom for our Syrian sisters. God willing, my hope is that what we do here will make a difference and they will finally be free.
ANN SCHOFIELD, ENGLAND (POLITICIAN, MEMBER OF NEWCASTLE CITY COUNCIL)
The Convoy of Conscience is of great significance to us. This convoy organized in the name of helping the oppressed is a meaningful initiative, and we cannot remain silent in the face of oppression. As women from all around the world, we have come together in Turkey for the women who are being subjected to torture in Syrian prisons. Through this initiative, we are trying to give worldwide visibility to the plight of more than 13,000 women held in Syrian prisons. By joining the Convoy of Conscience, we aim to make the world open its eyes to the oppression that has been going on in Syria. The world is ignoring the atrocities experienced there. I believe that the world needs to become aware of the horror people are experiencing in this region.
ASIA WAHEED AL-RABAYAH, QATAR (MEMBER OF THE ROYAL FAMILY)
I have been pioneering in humanitarian work for many years. The reason I have joined the Convoy of Conscience is to support women living under war conditions. I have joined the convoy on behalf of Qatari women, and I think it is time the world listens to this cry. Even if we cannot provide them with accommodation or financial support, we are here to offer our love and support. Women are suffering terribly and are being tortured in this war, and no one is helping them. They are the victims of politics. I want to tell my Syrian sisters that I love them very much. Through them I want to give a voice to all women who are being oppressed and deprived all around the world.
ELİF BALAT, TURKEY (LAWYER)
As female lawyers, we support the Convoy of Conscience for all the women who have been imprisoned and subjected to violence for seven years.
HIND DJABER, FRANCE (JOURNALIST)
I’m a French journalist, Hind Djaber. I joined the Convoy of Conscience because I believe this blessed initiative allowed us to share these wonderful feelings with people from many different countries of the world. We were talking different languages, but this was not a barrier for us, because our goal was much more important. I would like to thank all the organizers and whoever participated in this initiative. It was a very successful organization.
FAUZIA HAMEED, PAKISTAN (MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT)
I have come to Turkey and joined the Convoy of Conscience to show my solidarity with our Syrian sisters. I have come to deliver a message to the whole world about the necessity of bringing an end to these atrocities being committed against women in prisons. All human rights organizations need to mobilize in support of these women who are suffering under the terrible conditions of war. Children are children no matter where they are, women are women no matter where they are.
MARCIA KARINE GOMEZ GARCÊZ, BRAZIL (RESEARCHER, INTERNATIONLIST, PHOTOGRAPHER)
Participating in the convoy is a unique experience especially amidst the time of crisis in the world. It is always the women and the minorities who are the most vulnerable in conflicts. Defending the rights of women who question the system and fight for personal rights and freedoms is part of every woman’s life. We need to protect the rights of women and ensure the continuity of social justice and we need more supporting voices. In a globalizing world, we are facing a situation where walls are getting increasingly higher in all areas of our lives. We will not be able to attain freedom and welfare unless there are free women and children.
SHAKILA KHALID CHAUDRY, PAKISTAN (MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT)
Today, we are seeing a state of war and the unjust treatment of women in many Muslim states. The Syrian case is truly unique. It is their own regime that is causing the suffering. We are here on March 8 to get our voices heard.
PATRICIA AMINA IBANÊZ, CHILE
Numerous conflicts have developed in and around this region. Sisters in humanity from all over the world raise their voices in order to raise awareness for the unacceptable injustice against their sisters from in Syria and other countries. We want to be part of this initiative because we want to create consciousness in ourselves and then spread this message to the people of our country. It seems that war is a reality we cannot avoid, and it is very important that we take care of each other and create consciousness about the consequences of this bitter reality.
GAMZE ÖZÇELİK, TURKEY (ACTRESS)
I support the Convoy of Conscience which has started a journey to be the voice of women who are being held illegally and tortured in Syrian prisons. I extend my love and respect to all my beautiful sisters who are doing everything in their power to be the hope and the voice of the oppressed.
SUHRA SINANOVIĆ, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA (PRESIDENT OF PODRINJE-BRATUNAC WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION)
We demand freedom for the thousands of women who are being held as prisoners as demand information on those 419 little girls who are expected to be imprisoned and cannot be reached. They are going through the same pain that we did. Do not have Muslim mothers and Muslim women the right to live?
RAHAF ALFILKAWI, KUWAIT
I believe that this initiative by women from all around the world will have a significant impact. This time everyone will understand how important women are.
HOMAIRA AYUBI, AFGHANISTAN (MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT)
I am excited and happy that I have carried out this great and effective march against the violators of human rights and women’s rights, to demonstrate solidarity, to demonstrate the understanding of femininity and womanhood. The ruthless fate of this country in war gives us meaning as belonging to those who are permanently under attack by terrorists, terrorist groups and totalitarian regimes. I participated in the march to put an end to the harassments against the women and to the use of children.
BURCU ÇETİNKAYA, TURKEY (NATIONAL RALLEY CHAMPION)
This convoy is an important event on an international level. There are women from different origins and religions. All these women have come together for Syria to be the voice of women exposed to torture, rape in Syrian prisons. I feel glad if I can contribute a small share and make their voice heard.
SADJO SANBU, GUINEA
I have joined the convoy to protest against the plight of women in Syria. Every woman in the world should be free. With the help of God and the determination of the people, those women will be saved. Because a woman is a mother and a sister; she is everything. Women should be free. The most important thing in the world are women. I would like to tell those women, “Hold firm, you are going to be saved soon.
NURA MUSTAFIĆ, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA (MOTHERS OF SREBRENICA REPRESENTATIVE)
What the women of Syria are experiencing now reminds me of Srebrenica. The memory of it all came back to me. We lost a lot of people. More than 8,000 of our men died. I lost my husband and children. We set out as soon as we heard about the convoy. It is as if I am back in Srebrenica, as if they are taking away my sons. I hope no one else ever has to go through something like that. We understand their suffering all too well. We are bringing a small bit of Bosnia to Hatay with us. I have a message for them. “You are not alone. We stand by your side. Resist, you will succeed.”
AISHA, PAKISTAN (MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT)
All of us women have come together to unite against oppression. We have raised our voices and no one will be able to stop us. This journey that we have organized for women is to stand up against the oppressors. We say this is enough. War crimes and oppression must come to an end.
SENAN AL-AHMAD, KUWAIT (NGO PRESIDENT)
I have come here from Kuwait. I also act as the head of an organization which has been engaged in humanitarian work since its establishment. What really makes the present events unique is in my opinion the fact that children and women are the two groups who are subjected to the greatest amount of suffering. With the exception of Turkey, almost all countries are turning a deaf ear to these horrible cases of torture and rape. Sometimes I try to put myself in their shoes. I think how much I would want someone to come and save me if I were one of these women. Through this convoy, we will be the voice of all those women who are expecting that. We have the obligation to do everything in our power to liberate these women. When we delivered humanitarian aid to one of the camps in Syria, I saw a mother in one of the tents. She was trembling. She could barely stand on her feet. I asked her what the matter was. With a sorrowful face she said, “I left my child in his bed.” At first I did not understand what she meant. Later I found out that a shell had hit her house and, while hurrying to lead her children out of the house, she had forgotten to take the youngest from his bed. How can you soothe the pain of a mother who has experienced that? This is now the routine for women in Syria.
ASİYE YILDIZ, TURKEY (MOTHER OF A 15 JULY MARTYR)
I am the mother of Muharrem Kerem Yıldız, who was killed on the Bosporus Bridge. I feel stronger now. When all these women are united, there is nothing we cannot achieve. God willing, we will be able to help our fellow Muslim sisters in Syria.
SAJEELA KERSHI, ENGLAND (COMEDIAN AND WRITER)
Forgotten women, yes, our sisters in prison in Syria have been forgotten exactly like this. I am a comedian, but of course there is nothing I find funny about what happened to our sisters in Syria. Women of the world! We are tigers and we roar. I want all of you to shake your senses. We will roar all together. With our other sisters along the convoy we will hold hands and form a human chain which will reach the border. It’s time for the world to hear our roar.
MUNEVVER OZUYGUR, EAST TURKISTAN
We have come together to become the voice of the oppressed women of the world. While we live under similar conditions, we have set out on this journey to help save Syrian women from torture. Because we understand the plight of the oppressed. We are here, my Syrian sisters, and we will never abandon you. God’s mercy will be with us as we take these steps together. It is said that the prayers of a guest and an oppressed person never go unanswered. In him we trust.
ENIDA GUJO, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA (ASSOCIATION OF SOLIDARITY BETWEEN BALKAN CULTURES)
In Syria many women are being held captive in prisons. And the world remains silent. On March 8, we will make a united call to provide help to those women being subjected to torture.
FATIMA ABRAHAMS, SOUTH AFRICA
I am 60 years old. I have come all the way from South Africa for our Syrian sisters. Women all around the world deserve conscientious treatment. The biggest supporters of women are their fellow women. Because we are mothers, sisters, wives. People need to understand this. We need to have an impact. God willing, this time the world will hear our voice.
MAHA AL-KALLAF, KUWAIT
I came here today for Syrian women. I would like to emphasize that women exist in every aspect of life. I’m proud to be here. I am here to be the voice of all oppressed people in the world, and to be able to hear the screams of women who are subjected to torture and mistreatment in Syria. There is no issue that we women cannot achieve and cannot resolve. I believe this will happen as well.
MUNIRA SUBAŠIĆ, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA (MOTHERS OF SREBRENICA REPRESENTATIVE)
I am old. But I never get tired. We all need to be here. The plight of Syrian women today reminds me of the feelings I felt back in 1995. This is a heavy burden. Besides my husband and two sons, I lost 39 relatives. That feeling is beyond description. This is why I feel confident at saying that we are those who can best understand what the Syrians are going through now. I want them out of this difficult situation so that, despite everything, they can get their lives back. War is very painful. Peace must be established among all Muslims. Such dark times must be confined to the past. As a person who has lost a husband and two sons and 39 more relatives, I understand them all too well. I do not want anyone to experience this pain. I want Syrian women to hear this. You are not alone, the Mothers of Srebrenica and Bosnia-Herzegovina are on your side. This is the 21st century; the UN, USA, and Russia should all feel ashamed of what is going on.
NIHAL OLÇOK, TURKEY (MOTHER AND WIDOW OF 15 JULY MARTYRS)
I joined the convoy in Istanbul. For three days I have been talking to mothers from Syria. One of them said she had lost three children. I have lost my husband and my son during the coup attempt and had to think of them. I felt embarrassed for my own sorrow. People used to tell me how strong I was. When I talked to Syrian mothers, I have seen pure suffering in their experiences and understood that mine was nothing in comparison. At least I was in my homeland with my own people. I got the help that I needed to get over my grief from people of my own culture. On top of everything they are trying to heal their pains in a foreign land. They are not in their homeland, nor speaking their native language. These three days have taught me a lot. The bus ride, meeting new people at every stop, and the foreign guests who showed unbelievable support. This initiative has been covered in the international media. Despite the little we can do, we wanted at least to take a clear side. I know I cannot do anything on my own, because lately I have been a woman who can barely support herself. But here I have come to believe that, even though I cannot bring back my son, I can work to bring together the mothers and children who are still in this world. The feelings I have here are beyond description. Every time I felt tired, I imagined I was standing in front of the grave of my son and thought how much they must have missed their children as well. Even though I will no longer be able to have Abdullah in my arms, God willing they will be able to do that with their children.
AISHA F M A ALQASSAR, KUWAIT (LAWYER)
I joined this convoy for humanity, crying eyes, suffering bodies. I joined this convoy for my Syrian siblings, who had to endure every difficulty since the beginning of the revolution and who had been suffering from it. I joined the convoy following Resulallah’s (s.a.v) saying:” Believers are like the parts of a body, and if one is harmed, others are affected by it.” I participated in this convention in order to wake up the law enforcement authorities who have fallen asleep in an international settlement. I call to the Syrian women: We joined this convoy for you and your patience, knowing that even when you were in prison, you were trying to protect yourself and try to overcome the challenges. Even if your power begins to disappear, we will never give up on you, and we will continue to be defenders and follower of the right.
MAISOON SHAHEEN, JAPAN (ACADEMIC & RESEARCHER)
The invitation to participate in the convoy was a call going beyond transnational and national borders, where the identities are shifted and the human values are promoted. The reason for my involvement in this call was to listen and announce the cries of the oppressed to the whole world like every person carrying a conscience. The goal was to remind conscientious world residents of their conscience and find solutions to these silent cries. This convoy has enabled many women from around the world to become involved in seeking solutions for the problems by contributing simply with their participation I hope this convoy may be a remedy for Syrian women and for those seeking a solution. The whole world should take an example from the Turkish leadership.
HAYA AL SHATTI, KUWAIT
Like all women in the world, I know the tragedies Syrian women are exposed to in Syrian prisons under Syrian detention. I joined this convoy in the hope of adding a voice to their scream. This convoy has given me hope thanks to the presence of former Syrian detainees who are now among us. All women currently held in prison should remain their hope. Gathering women from so many different countries around the same table and for the same cause is enough for us to understand that this convoy can only be a success.
AYŞE AKDENİZ, TURKEY (HOUSEWIFE)
We came together with women from numerous countries. There were Bosnians among us; we got to know each another and shared beautiful experiences. They have also experienced a similar tragedy, and they came to help. All credit to those people who organized this. I feel glad that I have participated in this convoy. I will keep supporting this convoy. It is an honor for me to stand by the side of my sisters. God willing, our efforts will make a difference. May God bless everyone who was involved in this convoy.
RAMIZEN GURDIĆ, (MOTHERS OF SREBRENICA REPRESENTATIVE)
During the Bosnian War, I also had experiences similar to those of Syrian women. I lost my husband and my child. I know the meaning of pain very well. We will give worldwide visibility to the plight of our sisters.
AYLİN ŞENGÜN TAŞCI, TURKEY (SINGER)
I am Aylin Şengün Taşçı, a singer of classical Turkish music. Even from far away, I’m able to feel the pain caused by the war in Syria for a long time. Even though I am not with them, I can feel their suffering in my heart. It is painful to follow the news of all the rapes and crimes that are taking place in prisons. This is why I support the Convoy of Conscience.
NESLİHAN ŞEKER, TURKEY (DOCTOR)
I’m a doctor. I was invited to join the Convoy of Conscience by my friend who volunteers in the humanitarian field. This is how I became aware of the oppression our Syrian sisters are facing in their country’s prisons. In fact, at first I was unwilling to take leave from work because of my patients expecting a delivery, but I realized that our sisters in Syria needed us more and our solidarity would make a difference. I accepted the offer and I am glad I did. Participating in the convoy made me feel like one of the ants that carried drops of water to the fire that was intended to burn Abraham. Rather than doing nothing, I wanted the Syrian women to know that they have sisters who care about them. What I realized during the journey was that the spirit of solidarity can overcome everything. My hope is that we will contribute to the liberation of our sisters and witness the day of their liberation.
RAFIJA HADŽIBULIĆ, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA (MOTHERS OF SREBRENICA REPRESENTATIVE)
I’m from Bosnia. I lost my husband and three sons. We know what they are going through. We have come all the way here so that there are no more Srebrenicas, so that no one will suffer the pain we suffered. We have started our journey for God, and this is why everything is going so well. I hope the oppressed will be lent the help that they need.
NAZİK SANSAR, TURKEY (TAXI DRIVER)
I joined the Convoy of Conscience in Istanbul. We started our journey listening to the voice of our conscience. I believe that the silent cries resulting from all the torture in Syrian prisons will have a significance in Turkey and in the world at large. My hope is that all women will be able to live in a world where they can be as free as men, where there is no violence against women.