Îlham Omer: Women’s quest for freedom will spread across Syria

İlham Omer, member of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) Women's Office, thinks the protests led by women in Sweida against high inflation rate and deteriorating economic situation in Syria are very sacred.


Qamishlo- Îlham Omer and Mewlûda Îbo, members of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) Women’s Office, were detained in Damascus on July 21, 2011. After two years in prison, they were released on August 27, 2023. In an interview with NuJINHA, she described what she had faced in prison and commented on recent political development in Syria.

Îlham Omer said that their main duty at the SDC is to establish and strengthen relations among women. “We want to represent all women in North and East Syria. There are articles on women’s rights in the Syrian constitution. We went to Sweida to give information about women’s rights. We met Druze women and shared our experiences with them and gave information about the revolution (The revolution in Rojava). When we returned to Damascus, we were detained,” Îlham Omer said, “The Damascus government (Syrian government) is afraid that the revolution and democratic project in North and East Syria will spread across the country. We were arrested on the pretext that we had gone to Sweida to propagandize against the Damascus government. The 5-minute interrogation lasted almost two years, and we faced physical and physiological violence. The first thing we were told was ‘As Kurds, when will you understand that you live in a country under one flag and that your project will not succeed and that you will return to the arms of the state?’. They think we are trying to divide Syria.”

She was isolated for eight months

Îlham Omer was held at the Anti-Terrorism Department for eight months. She was isolated and subjected to torture for eight months. “Whenever they detained us, they took Mewlûde to another place. We were held at the Anti-Terrorism Department for the first eight months. Then, we were held at the Criminal Security Branch for a year and five months. We were held in a cell with the women of ISIS. We were subjected to physiological torture by the women of ISIS. In prison, prisoners were never called with their names but with numbers. We were isolated; we were not allowed to see our family. For two years, we were deprived of all our rights. We stayed in a solitary cell for two years without sun and air. In winter, we did not have clothes to keep us warm and we were given very bad food.”

‘I have no regrets’

Îlham Omer thinks the Damascus government uses arrests to put pressure on the SDC. “The food given to us showed how the economic crisis affected the areas controlled by the Damascus government. Syria suffers from economic, political and social crises. They arrested us to put pressure on the SDC so that they could get whatever they wanted. Despite all the physical and psychological torture, I have no regrets. I saw the prison as a training place, where I could think more and regain my energy for the future. We will keep sharing our experiences and spread our project across the country. Because we, as Syrian women, are the roots of life.”

‘We greet the struggle of Druze women’

 Îlham Omer also talked about the protests led by women in Sweida. “When I was in prison, I heard that the women of Sweida rose up against the government. After watching the news, I realized that my efforts in Sweida do not go for nothing. The struggle started by the women of Sweida is a very valuable struggle. They have risen up against the hunger policy of the government and demanded their rights. The women of Sweida are knowledgeable and understanding women. They should keep struggling to the end. We greet the struggle of Druze women.”

‘Women’s quest for freedom will spread across Syria’

In her speech, Îlham Omer noted that women are being oppressed in the name of religion. “The women of Sweida rise up and represent the demands of all Syrian women. Ruling systems always oppress women to prevent them from achieving their goals. They try to suppress women by arresting and torturing them. ISIS subjects women to massacre and torture while the Damascus government and the Turkish state carry out misogynous policies. They never want a democratic Syria and implement the policy of divide and disintegrate. Therefore, the unity and solidarity of women will fail this policy. Women’s quest for freedom will spread across Syria whether the Damascus government wants it or not.”