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FTW Women peace campaigners arrive in Syria for start of cycle ride

‘Follow the Women – Women for Peace’ cycle ride
Syria – Lebanon – Palestine - Jordan
April 7th-19th, 2007

For immediate release
Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN PEACE CAMPAIGNERS ARRIVE IN
SYRIA FOR START OF ‘WOMEN FOR PEACE’ CYCLE RIDE

Iranian, UAE and Palestinian riders join international community for ride;
Twelve-day peace ride gets underway in Aleppo on Easter Saturday

DAMASCUS (Syria): International female riders from 35 countries have arrived in Syria for the start of a 12-day ‘Follow the Women – Women for Peace’ cycle ride from Syria to Jordan, via Palestine and Lebanon. The ride is being held with the full support of Her Excellency Mrs Asmaa Al-Assad, Syria’s first lady. It starts in Aleppo on Saturday, April 7th and finishes in Amman, Jordan, on Thursday, April 19th.

Ladies from as far afield as the United States, Great Britain, Italy, Turkey, Iran, Palestine, Lebanon, the UAE and Syria will take part in the peace awareness ride.

Among them is 51-year-old Sahar Saleh. The country co-ordinator for the UAE Team and the assistant co-ordinator for riders from Jordan and Palestine. Saleh is a Palestinian. She was born in Kuwait and educated at Liverpool University in England. An electronics engineer by trade. Saleh took part in the first ‘Follow the Women’ peace ride in 2004 and used the opportunity to visit the Occupied West Bank for the first time since 1967.

“The experience of riding for peace one year before across Europe changed my life,” said Saleh. “I went out of my way to contact people and prepare for the adventure and it made all the difference. It gave me a focal point and I felt alive again. The trip was very difficult. I was facing my own demons. I carried a lot of baggage on my bike, memories of my mother who had passed away five months before and I carried my own personal failure of liberating Palestine. My bike was crowded!

“I was 11 years old in 1967 during the first Israeli attack on Palestine. My father bought a large map and hung it in the dining room. He traced the 48 boundaries and sat tracking the movements of armies according to Arab media reports. We believed we were going home that summer. Five days later I heard that Palestine had fallen. I walked into the dining room to find my father crying on his knees in front of the map. I looked at the traced West Bank boundaries and saw the profile of a woman. I conveyed that to him and he prophesised that Palestine would be liberated by a woman... ‘Follow the Women’ helped me focus on what I do in my life.”

Twenty-six-year-old journalist Parvaneh Vahidmanesh is the co-ordinator for the Iranian team. She met ‘Follow the Women’ founder and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Detta Regan through a friend working for UNRWA and was keen to take part in the cycle ride for peace.

“I feel that women can draw the paths for living,” said Vahidmanesh. “We can change the world together without bloody footprints.”

Padova-based 66-year-old Luisa Trigila is the Italian team co-ordinator and was born in Libya. A red cross volunteer, Triglia is a keen cycle rider and considers that the bike is the best means of transport available for making close contact with people. “I think that every human being has to live in peace and freedom,” said Triglia.

“On behalf of sponsor Areeba and the people of Syria, I would like to welcome all the riders and people associated with the ‘Follow the Women – Women for Peace’ cycle ride to our country,” said Fares Kallas, public relations manager for Areeba Syria.

Further details about the first section of the ride through Syria are available from: Fares Kallas, Public Relations Manager, Spacetel Syria, Tel: +963 94 222222, ext. 1570 and e-mail: fkallas@areeba.com.sy.

Ends

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www.followthewomen.com



Date issued: 04/04/2007

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