Keynoting at an Event for the International Day of Peace

Doaa keynoted at an event hosted by Doris Bures, Second President of the National Council of the Austrian Parliament

Doaa keynoted at an event hosted by Doris Bures, Second President of the National Council of the Austrian Parliament

On September 20 2018, the eve of the International Day of Peace, the Second President of the National Council of the Austrian Parliament hosted an event showcasing young women who had escaped from war zones.

Held at the Weltmuseum Wien, the event also commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

As the Second National Council President Doris Bures noted in her welcoming address, “We need the insight that world peace requires social and economic justice for all people.”

Doaa performs in the theater piece – also shown are Julia Zimmerman Feil and Christopher Aguilar (credit: Parliamentary Directorate / Johannes Zinner)

Ms. Bures singled out the longstanding Syrian conflict as a warning example, detailing that “400,000 Syrians have lost their lives in the war, with 13 million people in need of humanitarian aid, including five million children and adolescents.” She called for peace coupled with long-term, substantial support for reconstruction.

After a video address from former Austrian Federal President Dr. Heinz Fischer emphasizing the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a theater piece written by Syrian playwright Nour Barakeh was performed by a multinational group of young people, including Doaa Al Zamel.

In her subsequent speech, Doaa noted:

“In the theater piece you just saw, I said ‘People call me a brave survivor. But I say that everyone who has lived in war, poverty, hunger or disaster is a survivor. Everyone has a story.

“I will share my story with you today. I am a Syrian refugee. I have endured so much, yet I represent just one of the tens of millions of other refugees risking their lives in order to reach safety.”

From right: Second President of the National Council of the Austrian Parliament Doris Bures, Doaa Al Zamel, Nour Barakeh, Weltmuseum Wien Director Christian Schicklgruber (credit: Parliamentary Directorate / Johannes Zinner)

Doaa proceeded to describe how her family had fled from the fighting in Syria to Egypt in 2012 – and why she had later attempted the dangerous crossing to Europe: “We put our faith in the hands of smugglers with no mercy, because no country had given us the right of asylum. But we are not terrorists. We are people who legitimately demanded peace, yet we were confronted with death, displacement and suffering.”

Speaking to the packed plenary at the Weltmuseum Wien event, Doaa described her four harrowing days on an inflatable ring in the open sea, helplessly watching as hundreds perished around her.

She then said: “But I haven’t come here to talk about despair. I have come to talk about responsibility. Let this International Day of Peace remind us that it is everyone’s right to live in peace. Everyone’s.

After thanking the Second President of the National Council of the Austrian Parliament Doris Bures for having hosted the event, Doaa appealed for peace: “I urge every politician in this room to take strong action to end the war that has displaced millions of people. And I urge everyone here to show understanding for those risking their lives to seek refuge, especially given this 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

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