Bus convoy of 2,000 women heads to Syria for women’s rights march

Women sing the rain as they prepare to embark on buses in Istanbul on March 6, 2018 ahead of a "Conscience Convoy" organizeed by Turkish Humanitarian Aid Foundation. (AFP)
Updated 06 March 2018
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Bus convoy of 2,000 women heads to Syria for women’s rights march

ISTANBUL: An international group of 2,000 women set off from Istanbul on Tuesday for Turkey’s border with Syria, part of a “conscience convoy” to raise awareness of the plight of Syrian women after seven years of civil war.
The convoy of buses is expected to reach the southern Turkish province of Hatay on Thursday, International Women’s Day.
The multi-sided conflict in Syria has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions from their homes, and the group of activists, from 55 countries, aims to highlight the plight of women in prison in particular.
“We need the world to take the best and quickest measures for the protection of women in all wars, not just those in Syrian prisons,” said Nour, a Syrian activist, who declined to give her full name. She said she was unjustly imprisoned for a month by the government of President Bashar Assad for her humanitarian work.
“Women have been exposed to war, suffering, asylum, and forced displacement in all countries subjected to war. We call on the entire world to protect women,” she said.

Organizers of the convoy say that 6,736 women, including 417 girls, are currently being held in prisons in Syria. Thousands of women have also been identified as having been subjected to torture, rape or other inhumane treatment in Syrian prisons since the war began, they said.
Assad’s government has denied allegations of systemic torture, as well as allegations of widespread war crimes by government-backed forces and Syria’s security services.
Massive displacement, both inside Syria and across its borders, has left millions of women and girls vulnerable to sexual violence and trafficking, the United Nations says. The collapse of the economy and health care system is also seen disproportionately affecting women.
“No matter what religion, race or ethnicity, women from the world are coming together today to start a journey of humanity,” said Yvonne Ridley, a Scottish activist. “We are setting off on this journey to be among those, to help those who are in Syrian prisons.”


Palestinians protest in Ramallah over Gaza sanctions

Updated 30 min 36 sec ago
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Palestinians protest in Ramallah over Gaza sanctions

  • Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated Saturday in the occupied West Bank to demand the Palestinian Authority lift punitive measures against the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
  • Demonstrators in Ramallah chanted “scrap the sanctions!” during protests against the Palestinian Authority.

RAMALLAH: Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated Saturday in the occupied West Bank to demand the Palestinian Authority lift punitive measures against the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, an AFP reporter said.
Demonstrators in Ramallah chanted “scrap the sanctions!” during protests against the Palestinian Authority, organized by civil society groups.
The Ramallah-based administration has introduced a series of measures against Gaza over the past year.
Tens of thousands of its civil servants in the coastal enclave, separated from the West Bank by a strip of Israeli territory, have gone without full pay for months.
Critics say such moves by the PA, dominated by the Fatah movement of president Mahmud Abbas, further exacerbate the split between the two parts of the Palestinian territories.
The rally passed peacefully, unlike a protest on June 13 during which Palestinian security forces fired stun grenades and tear gas to disperse demonstrators.
On Saturday, policemen were seen handing out Palestinian flags to the protesters.
Hamas has run Gaza since seizing it from the Palestinian Authority amid deadly clashes in 2007.
Since that year, Israel has maintained a crippling blockade on Gaza which it argues is necessary to isolate Hamas.
Rights groups say the siege amounts to collective punishment.
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars in the territory since 2008.
Neighbouring Egypt has also largely sealed its land border with Gaza in recent years, citing security threats.
The United Nations has said Gaza, which is home to two million people, will be uninhabitable by 2020.
Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement last October, but it has since collapsed.