Convoy spotlighting women in Syrian prisons to set off
An all-woman international convoy will set off on Tuesday to raise awareness of the suffering of women and young girls imprisoned by the Syrian regime.
With over 150 buses with participants from over 50 countries, the International Conscience Convoy, calling itself the "voice of oppressed women in Syria", will start its journey after holding a press conference at 10.30 a.m. (0730GMT) in Istanbul's Yenikapı Square.
The international convoy, created by Turkish women, includes women of from all creeds and professions, including civil representatives, lawyers, academics, artists, athletes, and housewives.
Among the international participants are Pakistani parliamentary Deputy Munaza Hasan, Ukrainian Deputy Olga Bogomolets, Afghan politician Homaira Ayoubi, Malaysia's International Islamic University Rector Zaleha Kamarudin, Nelson Mandela's daughter-in-law Rayne Rose Mandela-Perry, Scottish journalist and women's rights campaigner Yvonne Ridley, and Qatari activist and royal family member Asia Waheed Al Rabayah.
Around 200 Bosnian women from Sarajevo also arrived in Istanbul to join the convoy.
During the journey, the convoy will make stops in the Turkish cities of İzmir, Sakarya, Ankara, and Adana before reaching the southern Hatay province at the Turkey-Syria border.
The convoy will arrive in Hatay on March 8, World Women's Day, and hold a press conference.
According to a statement by the Conscience Convoy, over 13,500 women who were subjected to torture, rape and other inhuman treatment in the prisons of the Syrian regime are known by name, while these true number -- including women not named -- is certainly far higher.
Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since March 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
While UN officials say hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict, Syrian regime officials say the death toll is closer to 10,000.
Currently, over 6,700 women -- over 400 of them young girls -- are still living in these brutal prisons, the statement added.