Syrian Women Demand End to Siege of Zabadani

   •    August 24, 2015

syrian women protest

Photo: Robert Geiss/AP Images

No corner of Syria has been untouched by the violence that has consumed the country for the past four years. The city of Zabadani is no exception. Located close to the border with Lebanon, Zabadani is geographically strategic due to its position on the highway connecting Damascus and Beirut. Since July 2015, the Syrian army and Hezbollah have battled for control of the city against the ultraconservative Sunni Ahar a-Sham insurgent group. The people of Zabadani, meanwhile, are stuck in the middle—unable to flee the barrel bombs and left without food, shelter, or medical care.

In response, a brave group of more than 470 women have risked their lives by publicly signing a statement demanding that the parties stop the violence. They call upon the forces involved in the siege, as well as the UN, to establish a ceasefire and guarantee protection of all residents in Zabadani and neighboring areas. Despite all they’ve endured, these women continue to prioritize a peaceful solution, rather than military action. (To read recommendations from Syrian women leaders on how to ensure an inclusive political transition, click here.)

Here is their statement (click here for Arabic version):

Zabadani Women Initiative: “Stop the Violence”
August 17, 2015

We are a group of women from Zabadani, Syria who have suffered during the last three years from bombing, arbitrary detention, killings and discrimination based on regional identity. We demand that all the forces involved in the siege on Zabadani and its neighboring areas find a permanent solution that guarantees protection for all as well as an immediate end to the violence.

Montaha’s Cry is to protect the besieged civilians. She is a mother from Zabadani whose nineteen year old child is trapped in a besieged area. He has never carried a weapon. Montaha demands the safety of her child and her right to save his life.

Layla’s Cry is for the sake of injured people. She is a seventy year old woman from Zabadani. She was shot by a sniper at the Hekmeh checkpoint. She cannot leave Zabadani and she has been obliged to change her place of residence more than once to save her life.

Manal’s Cry is for the sake of sick people as she herself has cancer and lives in Madaya. She has experienced discrimination in the form of lack of access to healthcare services and inability to move freely simply because of the fact she is from Zabadani.

Amal’s Cry is to save lives. She is a doctor from Zabadani in her forties. She gives people hope by remaining in Zabadani despite the siege to provide medical care and attempting to help injured people and do her human duty.

For the sake of standing by these women, who represent a small sample of the women of Zabadani and the surrounding areas, we demand that the United Nations as well as the parties involved in the conflict adhere closely to the following:

  1. An immediate and long term ceasefire.
  2. Move all of the injured people out of Zabadani under international supervision through the Red Cross and provide them with urgent healthcare, as well as an international guarantee for their safety and security.
  3. Guarantee healthcare by the Red Cross for all people of Zabadani and the neighboring villages, which are: Madaya, Beqin, Bloudan and Saraghaya as well as the neighborhoods in which displaced people from Zabadani are staying such as Mamoura, Inshaat and Shallah.
  4. Guaranteeing the unconditional and complete access of humanitarian aid to Zabadani.
  5. Guaranteeing the safety of the internally displaced people from arbitrary detention and forced removal from the areas of displacement.
  6. Prevent discrimination based on identity for people from Zabadani wherever they are currently seeking shelter.
  7. Guaranteeing the freedom of movement of Syrian and international organizations and media on a permanent basis, especially for the purposes of monitoring and providing humanitarian aid, as well as the safety and security for their staff.
  8. Commitment of all parties to engage in good faith in serious and strict negotiations in order to agree on a permanent solution for the crisis taking a place in Zabadani, including meaningful participation from the women of Zabadani.

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