Syrian activist receives International Women of Courage award

Majd Izzat al-Chourbaji, mother of three, was one of 10 women honored for risking their lives to protect others.

Syrian female activist Majd Izzat al-Chourbaji received the International Women of Courage award Friday in a ceremony at the U.S. State Department.

Chourbaji, 34, was one of 10 women honored for risking their lives to protect others.

After being arrested in 2012, she was kept in a Syrian prison for seven months and was forced to leave the country after her release.

Since then, she has been helping Syrian women at refugee camps in Lebanon.

“I am here to deliver the voice of Syrian women who are suffering under the Assad regime,” she told The Anadolu Agency after the award ceremony. “Syrian prisoners are suffering. They have absolutely no rights and I am here to remind people of that.” 

“When Chourbaji was arrested by the Assad regime in Damascus, she knew exactly what lay ahead,” said State Department Deputy Secretary Heather Higginbottom, while introducing her during the awardceremony. “She continued her work from behind bars.  She held workshops on peace-building and citizenship; she organized 150 of her fellow prisoners to go on strike to demand due process and an appearance before a judge.”

Chourbaji said she dreams of returning to her homeland to rebuild it after getting rid of the Assad regime.

“Weapons and arms can take down a dictator, but they can’t build a country,” she said. “Of course the circumstances are difficult with three little children, work and hardships, but I still feel inner strength and feel that I shouldn’t give up, at least for the blood that was shed and poured in Syria.” 

“It is treason to all of that, if we stop now,” she added. 

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 2,100 people died in Syrian regime prisons in 2014. 

But the London-based human rights group noted that “the real number is much more,” because the statistics only include victims whose families received their bodies and death certificates.

During the nearly four years of civil war in Syria, more than 200,000 were killed; nearly half of them were civilians. According to the observatory group, at least 10,664 children and 6,783 women were among the dead.