Hope for the women of Syria

On top of all the other horror, now a rape crisis is gripping Syria. Soldiers are forcing women to act as human shields and then stripping them and raping them. This conflict has gone on long enough. The US and Russian foreign ministers meet in 2 days — let’s flood their inboxes calling for peace talks and a ceasefire now!

Women in Syria are being forced to stand in front of tanks and act as human shields before they’re stripped and raped by soldiers. This is the depravity humanity has sunk to in Syria as the war there drags on. But for the first time in months, we may have a chance this week to begin to turn things around.

On Friday, the US and Russian foreign secretaries are meeting in Washington about potentially convening peace talks. But every time they’ve done that in the past, they’ve argued about side issues and stalled — stalling that the Syrian women and children being raped and slaughtered simply can’t afford.

We’re already planning powerful giant advertisements just outside their meeting to demand peace talks and a ceasefire now. If we back that with a flood of emails, we can force them to finally end all the delays. We have two days — click below to see the hard hitting ads and send an urgent message to Secretary of State Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/syria_ceasefire_now_sam1/?bybIpcb&v=27805

A recent report warned that fear of rape is the main reason Syrians are fleeing their homes to join 1.5 million other refugees struggling to survive in bordering countries. Inside Syria, the conflict has become a war for territory where civilians always lose: one side loses a town only to take it back later in an endless cycle of violence. Women and children are literally pawns of war, and suffer brutal sexual attacks — as long as the conflict continues, so will the brutality.

There is no military solution to Syria’s conflict. The only way to stop the violence is if the international community plays tough and demands that all sides come to the table for peace talks and start to negotiate. The US and Russia are reportedly trying to organize peace talks in Geneva, just too slowly. Moments like this don’t come very often, and experts predict that failure to seize it now could result in a 10-year conflict that pulls in other countries in the region. The unfathomable costs of this outcome are too terrible an alternative — peace talks in Geneva are the only hope on the horizon.

Neither successful peace talks nor a ceasefire will happen overnight, but we urgently need to get started. The weeks leading up to peace talks will require sustained engagement from the Arab League, Russia, the EU and the US to get all relevant parties to the table — and even more effort to make the talks the first step towards a long-term solution. And our leaders can only deploy the massive political will this will require with a massive push from the public — from us.

Over 100,000 people have died while policymakers shoot down any path that isn’t perfect. The situation is complex, with multiple conflicts and tensions intertwined. But we can’t let this complexity provide an excuse for inaction. Peace won’t be easy, but it’s Syria’s only hope. Let’s come together once again for the Syrians desperately pleading for our help. For the women of Syria that do not have a voice click to send an urgent message — let’s demand a ceasefire now!

http://www.avaaz.org/en/syria_ceasefire_now_sam1/?bybIpcb&v=27805

Our community has stood by the Syrian people from the very beginning. 60,000 of us donated, sending millions of dollars of aid and communications equipment to the non-violent protesters, developing a new model of citizen journalism to break Assad’s blackout of information on his brutality that generated tens of thousands of news pieces and articles. And millions of us joined dozens of campaigns for international action. Now the Syrian people need us more than ever. Let’s be brave, and smart, and determined, for them.

With hope,

Ian, Joseph, Alice, Allison, Ricken, Marie, Will, Mais and the whole Avaaz team

PS – Many Avaaz campaigns are started by members of our community! Start yours now and win on any issue – local, national or global: http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/start_a_petition/?bgMYedb&v=23917

More information:

Kerry and Hagel to Meet Russian Officials in Washington (New York Times)
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/07/world/europe/kerry-and-hagel-to-meet-russian-officials-in-washington.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&smid=tw-nytimes&_r=0

Syrian women who fled to Jordan tell of horrific rapes back home (The Star)
http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/04/06/syrian_women_who_fled_to_jordan_tell_of_horrific_rapes_back_home.html

U.N. Panel Reports Increasing Brutality by Both Sides in Syria (New York Times)
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/05/world/middleeast/un-panel-reports-increasing-brutality-by-both-sides-in-syria.html?hp&_r=0

Chemical warfare in Syria (Le Monde)
http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2013/05/27/chemical-war-in-syria_3417708_3218.html

Ban Ki-moon Hopeful Geneva Conference Could Yield Syria Breakthrough (TRNS)
http://www.talkradionews.com/united-nations/2013/05/17/ban-optimistic-about-syria-conference-in-geneva.html

Syrian war seen dragging on for years (Reuters)
http://in.reuters.com/article/2013/05/31/syria-war-duration-idINDEE94U0AB20130531

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