Women form new opposition in Syria

Women form new opposition in Syria

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Women form new opposition in Syria

‘The regime destroyed everything in people’s lives. The women their families,’ says Bahiya Mardini. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

A group of Syrian dissidents - mostly women led by Syrian journalist and human rights activist Bahiya Mardini - have created a new opposition group called the “Free Syrian Union,” in order to draw attention to the situation of women and children who are being subjected to violence in Syria.

“Women and children in Syria are affected most by the violence in Syria. Women are being raped, tortured and killed. We think Asma al-Assad is a criminal because hundreds of children are killed there and she doesn’t do anything, while her husband kills the children”, Bahiya Mardini told the Hurriyet Daily News in an interview.

Bahiya Mardini is the great-granddaughter of a family who fled to Syria from the southern Turkish province of Mardin about a century ago. A lawyer, human rights activist and journalist who works for “Reporters Without Borders,” Mardini defected from Syria nine months ago.

“The big problem in Syria is that nobody talks about the situation women seriously. But when there is a war in a country, the women are affected most. The people who share this idea have come together to do something for women and children in Syria,” she said.

Mardini said women are subject to a lot of violence in dissident cities in Syria. “The regime destroyed everything in people’s lives. The women became refugees, they lost their families. There is violence, kidnap, rape. A 22-year-old woman Yara Micheal Shammas was arrested for 44 days without any charge, for instance. There are hundreds of situations like this in Syria.”

Mardini added that they would be compiling the cases of violence against women in Syria and that they aimed to take these cases to the International Criminal Court (ICC). According to her, Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s wife Asma Assad is also responsible for the deaths of women and children.

“Not only does she watch him, in fact she supports him, that’s why she shares these crimes. We want all these truths to be taken to ICC”, Mardini said, adding that they would also be training at least 10 Syrian women in order to teach them how to deal with other victims of violence.