Urgent Call for Solidarity: Women’s Academic Delegation is being withheld at Iraq-Syria border

To the attention of the International Academic Community:

Since yesterday an international women’s academic delegation group is being withheld from crossing to Northern Syria, from the Semalka border between Iraq and Syria, to explore the humanitarian conditions, situation of women and future possibilities of academic collaboration and research in the region.

Although until recently this has not been the case, the delegation was informed that from now on only journalists and NGO members were allowed to cross.This means an impediment to academic freedom constraining the academics whose responsibility is to safeguard democratic values, social justice, gender equality and peace especially at times of turmoil under authoritarian regimes.

Below you can find the call for solidarity written by the delegation. They are asking international academics to contact the chairman of Selmanka border point to show their solidarity and ask for the authorization to continue their academic work in Northern Syria. As it is a delicate situation, due to the political circumstances and the relationship between Northern Syria and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq, the delegation especially asks the mails to be sent to keep a strictly academic tone in order not to aggravate the tension. With the support of the international academics they are hoping to resolve the situation soon enough avoiding the need for further steps to be taken.

For that if you will be contacting the chairman of the border or thinking of spreading the information in your academic networks please keep that in mind. (Contacts at the end of the call)

In solidarity

CALL FOR SOLIDARITY AND PROTEST AT SEMALKA BORDER OFFICE

We are an academic women’s delegation of five women that intends to travel to Northern Syria in order to explore the situation of women, humanitarian conditions and new forms of academic structures. We want to build contacts for future research in the region. We consider research to have a strong ethical and societal responsibility. Joint research and academic exchange could become part of the process to transform society towards deep democracy, social justice, gender equality and a peaceful joint life. We are a diverse group of a lecturer in transculturality and international relations (Dr. Mechthild Exo, Social Work Department of University of Applied Sciences Emden/Leer), a student of philosophy and comparative political thought (starting Master at SOAS University of London), a medical and humanitarian expert (retired medical doctor), an expert of the Kurdish region of Northern Syria, and an interpreter.

The application for border crossing had been submitted with a letter by the vice-president of University of Applied Sciences Emden/Leer. In the week before we traveled to Iraq we provided the border office with all requested documents, mainly proofing our ID and the university affiliation. When we requested crossing to Syria today, the border office refused with the explanation that only NGOs and journalists are receiving permission.

We ask you to protest the denying of permission to this academic women’s delegation and the hindrance to enter Northern Syria. For us this decision must be considered as a harm to the academic freedom. We particularly ask all academic and non-academic women to be at our side and build up pressure to the border office to enable our women’s delegation to meet and discuss with women of the new founded university in Quamislo.

Sincerely,

Dr. Mechthild Exo


Please contact to the Semalka border office and Dr. Hamid Derbendi:

hamid ahmad@krp.org or hamid.ahmad2@gmail.

00964 750 390 8589

00964 750 445 2794 (Whatsapp)

and p.peshabor@hotmail.com

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