Ukrainian deputy pledges support for all-women convoy

Olga Bogomolets participated in Conscience Convoy in Turkey in March

Ukrainian deputy pledges support for all-women convoy Participants of roundtable discussion include representatives from several countries including Turkey, Ukraine, Syria, Bosnia, Netherlands, Japan, France, Portugal and South Korea. (Meryem Göktaş - Anadolu Agency)

By Meryem Goktas


Ukrainian deputy Olga Bogomolets has pledged her support for the all-women international convoy which raises awareness for women imprisoned by the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria.

In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Bogomolets said that her participation at the convoy helped raise awareness in her country and showed the mothers of victims in Ukraine's eastern part that they are not alone.

The international Conscience Convoy, which calls itself the "voice of oppressed women in Syria," on March 6 embarked on a three-day journey with 55 buses from Istanbul that ended in Hatay, near the Syrian border. The final rally was attended by over 10,000 women to mark International Women's Day.

Women from over 50 countries including Syria, Ukraine, Chile, Palestine, Iraq, Britain, East Turkestan, Brazil, Malaysia, Pakistan, Kuwait and Qatar addressed the large crowd at a fairground in Antakya, Hatay.

The convoy included women from all creeds and professions such as civil representatives, lawyers, academics, artists, athletes and housewives.

The Ukrainian deputy also participated in the Conscience Convoy.

“I came to support Syrian women, children and all people in the world who are suffering because of violence,” she said.

More than 6,700 women -- over 400 of them young girls -- are still living in prisons run by the Assad regime forces, according to a statement by the Conscience Convoy.

Bogomolets -- who is also a doctor -- said that 16 young men died in her arms during the conflict in the eastern part of Ukraine.

“That’s why I have a very strong feeling of support for those people who are suffering because I know what it means when no one is replying, when no one is hearing, when the whole world is doing nothing while people are dying,” she said.

Conflict in eastern Ukraine

Ukraine has been mired in a devastating conflict in its eastern regions since March 2014, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea after an illegal independence vote.

The warring parties signed a cease-fire in February 2015, but the fighting continued, claiming more than 10,000 lives, according to the UN.

The UN General Assembly voted to proclaim the Russian annexation illegal. Along with many UN member countries, the U.S., EU and Turkey also do not recognize Crimea as Russian territory.

Bogomolets said that she founded a transparent donation campaign in 2014 for more than 300 people who lost their breadwinners in the conflict.

The Ukrainian deputy said that the platform does not only support family members but also includes them in the platform to play an active role.

The International Mothers Assembly was another project to support Ukrainian mothers, Bogomolets added.

“I am trying to integrate them (mothers) to social life, my main idea is to show them that their sons would not want them to cry, they would want them to go forward,” she said.

Bogomolets said that she also founded a system for the DNA identification of those victims who disappeared in the conflict.

“More than 1,800 pieces of bodies were identified, 850 DNA profiles were identified and 550 profiles were linked to the families in Ukraine,” she said.

Bogomolets said that, thanks to the DNA identification, the family members were able to bury the remains of the victims in their region and received a compensation from the government.

The Ukrainian deputy also spoke about the problems the country is currently facing, including corruption and low living standards.

Bogomolets said that Ukraine has the shortest life expectancy in Europe -- men 65 years and women 71 years -- while the average salary in Ukraine is 100 dollars, including that of doctors.

She said a strong civil society is important for the country’s future.

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