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The Deteriorating Situation in Aleppo Has Not Curbed Solidarity Activism

22 December 2016


The northern Syrian city of Aleppo has been witnessing the most relentless and indiscriminate aerial bombardment since the peaceful revolution metastasised into a bloody conflict. A twisted discourse has been recently widespread on the media to claim that Syrian, Russian and Iranian militants have been “saving the lives” of besieged civilians by arranging an evacuation out of the encircled eastern part of Aleppo. It is important not to use erroneous description when reporting on these evacuations: civilians have been actually forcefully displaced out of their homes, after having bore the burden of the scarcity of food and lack of medial care.

Syrian peace-building activists have been closely following the developments, be it from inside the city or from neighboring countries. Many of our partners have solemnly announced their solidarity in different ways; while some have declared suspending their operational activities in Turkey in solidarity with civilians in Aleppo, others have been continuously exerting pressure on key conflict players to stop the atrocities.

Women Now for Development, a non-governmental organization that works from within Syria and also from Turkey, Lebanon, and France, cooperates with grassroots organizations, civil society activists, international NGOs, and other partners to consolidate women’s roles in Syrian communities by enhancing their social, economic and cultural participation. In their recently released statement, Women Now announced suspending its activities in Turkey, yet it “will of course continue our work inside Syria, as it is most needed in these dire times.” They have also called the international community to facilitate a ceasefire and safe evacuation for besieges civilians, as well as providing “immediate access to life-saving assistance”.

Photo Credit: Melampaui
Photo Credit: Melampaui

The Center for Civil Society and Democracy (CCSD) has also been launching an online campaign in solidarity with civilians in Aleppo. The Center for Civil Society and Democracy in Syria is an independent Syrian center that seeks to support and strengthen civil society and democracy and promote the values of freedom, justice and coexistence, and operates inside Syria and from Turkey. CCSD released a series of humanitarian appeals – nine in total until now – to give a voice for civilians by sharing “Stories from Aleppo” with the readers including a call for action. Read the stories of Ziad, Leila, Abood, Abdalkader, Samah, among others, and share them widely with your network! The appeals also calls on the readers to contact the Russian and Iranian embassies in their countries, and exert pressure on them to respond to these urgent asks.

84 Syrian grassroots organizations have also made a joint call for solidarity with civilians in Aleppo, urging all parties involved in the conflict to seize the wave of militarized violence that has swept the city, provide urgent and immediate assistance to the civilians, and warning against the growing trend of forced displacement that the Syrian regime across different cities in the country.

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WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

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WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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