It has probably become more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in armed conflicts.
Today, March 17, Besime Konca is put to trial in the city of Batman in Turkey. Besime is a participant in Operation 1325's project Mediation Lab. She is the spokesperson for the HDP's Women's Assembly and is accused of having links to terrorism. The prosecution was brought against her after she participated in a funeral of a man who was accused of terrorism.
Also, another participant in Mediation Lab, Ayla Akat, former MP for the BDP - Peace and Democracy Party, and spokesperson for women's organization KJA, has already been sentenced to prison. Her sentence is imprisonment for 35-90 years. She is sentenced due to contact with an organization classified as illegal in turkey.
Our project the Mediation Lab aims to strengthen and increase the visibility of women working for peace in Turkey, Colombia and Palestine. At a conference in Alexandria in Egypt in October 2016 the participating women were provided with training in conflict resolution and mediation, under the direction of Judith van den Boogert from the Clingendael Institute of International Relations, based in the Netherlands. Keynote speaker at the conference was the Swedish diplomat Birgitta Holst Alani, a member of the Nordic mediation network for women, initiated by the Swedish government.
With the failed coup attempt in Turkey the summer of 2016, the opposition has suffered severe repression from the state. Women who organize themselves have proved itself to be a strong actor for peaceful solutions. That these forces now in Turkey are put to trial and imprisoned for being active for peace is deeply tragic. In countries in conflict, people active within civil society and politics often become accused of belonging to the opposition or of terrorism. But to stand up for peace and women's rights can never be terrorism. The result is an entire country losing the prospects for a peaceful and democratic development.
In the meetings Operation 1325 holds with representatives of the Swedish government, we have called for action to push for an end to the oppression of the Turkish regime exercised against women who stand up for peace and women's rights.