By Meryem Goktas
A delegation of an all-women international convoy highlighted human rights abuses against Syrian women during a roundtable Wednesday at the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev.
The roundtable was chaired by Ukrainian deputy Olga Bogomolets, who invited the Conscience Convoy delegation to Kiev, and attended by representatives from several countries including Turkey, the Netherlands, Japan, France, Portugal and South Korea as well as mothers of victims of the 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
More than 6,700 women -- over 400 of them young girls -- are still living in prisons run by Syrian regime forces, according to a statement by the Conscience Convoy.
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, Turkey, near the Syrian border, with a final rally 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.
Bogomolets participated in the Conscience Convoy on its three-day journey in Turkey in March.
She said it is important to raise awareness in Ukraine on the situation of Syrian women as mothers of victims who lost their lives in the conflict in the county’s east can relate to their pain and show solidarity.
Speaking about her experiences with the convoy, Bogomolets praised the unity of women for women and pledged her support for further steps of the initiative.
Nalan Dal, spokesperson of the Conscience Convoy, said the Syrian crisis has entered its eighth year and continues to expose Syrians to suffering.
Dal said the Syrian detainees are referred to as "forgotten women" in Assad regime prisons who are exposed to torture and sexual assault, stating that it is everyone’s moral responsibility to show solidarity with these women.
Addressing the participants of the roundtable, Dal asked those present to include the suffering of women and young girls imprisoned by the Syrian regime and the work of the Conscience Convoy in their agendas.
Dima Moussa, a Syrian lawyer, and Munira Subasic, head of the Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa, also addressed the roundtable as part of the Conscience Convoy delegation.
Reports of the Conscience Convoy, which include testimonies of former Syrian detainee women, were also distributed.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict, according to the UN.