Freedom Convoy on hunger strike after Syria refuses entry
Activists blocked from entering Syria have announced they are going to stage a two day hunger strike in protest at the Syrian decision, after setting up a camp on the Turkish side of the shared border, Today's Zaman reported.
Hundreds of activists calling themselves the "Freedom Convoy" arrived in Turkey to support a campaign to deliver aid to Syrians and draw international attention to what is happening in the country, convinced that Turkey would allow them to stage the protest.
However, when they were denied entry into Syria on Thursday and their aid packages, which included food, blankets and medical supplies, were barred from being transported across the border, they announced that they would remain close to the Turkish border and stage their demonstration from a makeshift camp.
As a result, the demonstrators will hold a hunger strike in order to draw attention to the Syrian refusal to allow the aid packages to cross the border and the failure of the international community to convince Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad, to end the use of violence against Syrian citizens by security forces and implement reforms.
Turkish authorities did not object to the group's arrival in Kilis, which lies on the border with Syria, but allowed only a small number of demonstrators to enter the Oncupınar border gate in order to negotiate entry into Syria. So far, an agreement has not been reached with Syrian border guards.
According to the Associated Press, activists from Bulgaria, the Netherlands, France and the United States, as well as other countries, have coordinated a large convoy of trucks containing humanitarian supplies. Doctors have also joined the group with the intention of offering medical assistance to displaced Syrians.
Samir Jisri, a computer graphics teacher from Toronto, told Reuters on Thursday that he wanted to return to the country he left as an infant. "The Syrian revolution is an orphan. Nobody is sticking up for it, not even the Arab League," Jisri said. "The last hope we have is Turkey," he added.
Turkey also hosts the opposition Syrian National Council, but Turkish officials maintain the group is a purely Syrian initiative that has chosen to gather in İstanbul. As a democracy, Turkey would not turn away peaceful organizations, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said last year when the group chose to establish its base in İstanbul. Turkey also plays host to a number of Syrian army defectors in Hatay, as well as thousands of Syrians who crossed the Turkish border when violence began to escalate last summer.