Civil March for Aleppo crosses into the Czech Republic
Hundreds of people left Berlin, Germany at the end of 2016 on a 4 000-kilometer-long march to Aleppo, Syria. Those participating will continue from Germany through the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece and Turkey to Syria.
The marchers expect to do roughly 29 kilometers per day and have already completed 260. "During the first two weeks more than 1 000 people have participated in the march," said Sebastian Olenyi, press spokesperson for the international team of the Civil March for Aleppo.
"En route we are being welcomed with unexpected charity. Locals have opened up gymnasiums for us to spend the night it, have participated in debates with us, and have frequently treated us to meals," Olenyi said.
The march crossed into the Czech Republic at the Petrovice border crossing around 10 AM this morning. They were welcomed by a small delegation bearing hot tea, treats and white flags, which are carried in the procession and symbolize the call for the massacre in Syria to end.
"The atmosphere is brilliant, everybody is enthustiastic to have crossed the border into the next state," Miroslav Brož, a member of the "welcoming committee", told news server Romea.cz. The throng of marchers is accompanied by a single vehicle with supplies of groceries, hot beverages and medical equipment.
"I would like to praise the approach taken by the Czech Police, specifically, the Regional Directorate of the Ústecký Region," Brož said. "Not only did they provide the procession with two accompanying vehicles with beacons, but they also prepared two special vans that are driving behind the parade in case of any sudden fatigue or medical difficulties arising for the marchers."
The march is also planning to stop in Brno and Prague. The marchers will stay in Prague from 15-17 January, where they will spend the night at the Meetfactory in the Smíchov quarter and participate in a rich program involving a debate with Czech journalists and politicians on the subject of resolving the Syrian conflict.
Tonight the procession is heading to the Roman Catholic rectory in the village of Libouchec. Tomorrow those participating will proceed to Ústí nad Labem, where activists are preparing a public debate and refreshments for them tomorrow evening.
Locals are preparing for the arrival of the march in other locations also: In Litoměřice, for example, those participating will spend the night with several local families. "We have not yet managed to arrange a place for them to spend the night near Veltrusy, which is the place the march will most probably arrive before Prague," Brož said.
"I would be glad if we could ultimately succeed in arranging for a place for them to stay there too," the local Czech organizer emphasized. Besides direct participation, other people are involved in preparing debates and other programs along the march route, providing logistical support, or contributing financially.
The conveners of the march are open to any form of participation. The most frequent participation follows the model of marching in phases, where a particular marcher joins the procession just for a limited time, whether for a week or just an afternoon.
The group has been international from the very beginning, involving people from the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Norway and Poland. It is being organized by a team of rougly 50 volunteers from all over the world.
People are joining the march for different, very personal, reasons. "We all agree that it is essential that humanitarian aid reach the civilians in the besieged areas of Syria," spokesperson Olenyi said.
"We are marching to draw attention to the context of the conflict in Syria and to support debates and discussions about it in each town we pass through," he said. You can find the current march route and places to meet up with it at www.civilmarch.org.
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