By Meryem Goktas
An all-woman international convoy started its three-day journey in Istanbul on Tuesday to raise awareness of the suffering of women and young girls imprisoned by the Syrian regime.
With participants from over 50 countries, the International Conscience Convoy, calling itself the "voice of oppressed women in Syria," started its journey with 55 buses after holding a press conference at Istanbul’s Yenikapi Sqaure.
Speaking at a press conference, human rights lawyer and convoy organizer Gulden Sonmez said the journey is meant to save imprisoned Syrian women and spark hope for a better future.
Currently, over 6,700 women -- over 400 of them young girls -- are still living in these brutal prisons, said a statement by the Conscience Convoy.
"We hear you, my Syrian sisters. We share your pain and we hear you, despite the efforts of those who are trying to drown you out, and my dear sisters, we’re coming for you," Sonmez said.
"We are setting off on this journey to be the conscience of those who are in Syrian prisons," Yvonne Ridley, a British journalist and women's rights campaigner, told the press conference.
"The perpetrators of these crimes are emboldened by the world’s silence," she added.
Helping sisters on World Women's Day
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Dia Hassoun, spokesperson for the convoy, said that it aims to reach the world to break the silence and show the suffering of Syrian women.
"We hope that the international community will take effective measures to protect women in Syria and all around the world. We hope that they will take effective measures to ensure the release of these women who are now in prisons," she said.
"I am a woman, and the day after tomorrow we are celebrating World Women’s Day, so we are celebrating all women’s achievements, women’s freedom, and as part of this convoy, I am here with all other women from all around the world to help our sisters in Syria," she added.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Zaleha Kamarudin, the rector of Malaysia’s International Islamic University, said that she is taking part in the convoy as it is her responsibility to protect women and children from being victims of war.
"As Muslim women promoting peace, we’re looking at it from our responsibility to protect women and children from being victims of war and being used as weapons of war,” she said.
The international convoy, created by Turkish women, includes women of from all creeds and professions, including civil representatives, lawyers, academics, artists, athletes, and housewives.
The convoy will arrive in Hatay on March 8, World Women’s Day, and hold a press conference.
During the journey, the convoy will make stops in the Turkish cities of Izmit, Sakarya, Ankara, and Adana before reaching the southern Hatay province at the Turkish-Syrian border.
Before reaching Hatay, the 55-bus convoy is expected to grow to 150.
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