Zabadani Women Initiative: “Stop the Violence”

September 3, 2015

As the ongoing violence and destruction leaves its traces throughout the country, many Syrian citizens continue to strive for peace, safety and justice. One of the many impressive initiatives undertaken by the Syrian people comes from Zabadani, a strategically located city near the Lebanese border that has been witnessing intense fighting between the Syrian regime, Hezbollah and several oppositional islamist militias.

Recently, a large number of women from different backgrounds from Zabadani have risked their lives by publicly signing a statement demanding an immediate halt to the violence and destruction in their city. They call upon the United Nations and all parties involved in the siege to establish a long-term ceasefire, to guarantee the protection of the city’s residents, and for the initiation of constructive local peace negotiations. Hivos fully supports this brave peaceful initiative, which reinforces our belief in the crucial role of local communities, and in particular women, in order to reach a just solution to the Syrian conflict.

Please see the statement below, which was publicly signed by almost 500 women:

Zabadani Women Initiative: “Stop the Violence”, August 2015

We are a group of women from Zabadani, Syria who have suffered during the last three years from bombing, arbitrary detention, killings and discrimination based on regional identity. We demand that all the forces involved in the siege on Zabadani and its neighboring areas find a permanent solution that guarantees protection for all as well as an immediate end to the violence.

Montaha’s Cry is to protect the besieged civilians. She is a mother from Zabadani whose nineteen year old child is trapped in a besieged area. He has never carried a weapon. Montaha demands the safety of her child and her right to save his life.

Layla’s Cry is for the sake of injured people. She is a seventy year old woman from Zabadani. She was shot by a sniper at the Hekmeh checkpoint. She cannot leave Zabadani and she has been obliged to change her place of residence more than once to save her life.

Manal’s Cry is for the sake of sick people as she herself has cancer and lives in Madaya. She has experienced discrimination in the form of lack of access to healthcare services and inability to move freely simply because of the fact she is from Zabadani.

Amal’s Cry if to save lives. She is a doctor from Zabadani in her forties. She gives people hope by remaining in Zabadani despite the siege to provide medical care and attempting to help injured people and do her human duty.

For the sake of standing by these women, who represent a small sample of the women of Zabadani and the surrounding areas, we demand that the United Nations as well as the parties involved in the conflict adhere closely to the following:

1. An immediate and long-term ceasefire.

2. Move all of the injured people out of Zabadani under international supervision through the Red Cross and provide them with urgent healthcare, as well as an international guarantee for their safety and security.

3. Guarantee healthcare by the Red Cross for all people of Zabadani and the neighboring villages, which are: Madaya, Beqin, Bloudan and Saraghaya as well as the neighborhoods in which displaced people from Zabadani are staying such as Mamoura, Inshaat and Shallah.

4. Guaranteeing the unconditional and complete access of humanitarian aid to Zabadani.

5. Guaranteeing the safety of the internally displaced people from arbitrary detention and forced removal from the areas of displacement.

6. Prevent discrimination based on identity for people from Zabadani wherever they are currently seeking shelter.

7. Guaranteeing the freedom of movement of Syrian and international organizations and media on a permanent basis, especially for the purposes of monitoring and providing humanitarian aid, as well as the safety and security for their staff.

8. Commitment of all parties to engage in good faith in serious and strict negotiations in order to agree on a permanent solution for the crisis taking a place in Zabadani, including meaningful participation from the women of Zabadani.