12 Syrian and international human rights organizations submit a documentary file about the Turkish crimes in Afrin, to international organizations
A delegation of 6 persons representing 12 Syrian and international human right organizations, met yesterday, Monday, in the UN Palace in Geneva with the following international human rights organizations:
1- The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (the chief of the Middle East section)
2- The International Investigation Committee for Syria (the international commissioners)
3- The International Impartial Independent Mechanism Organization (the organization’s president)
Where the delegation of the civil and human rights organizations, have submitted a memorandum of demands with a complete documentary file comprising hundreds of pages and tens of photographs and video clips that document and prove the involvement of the Turkish occupation and the jihadi factions affiliated to the Syrian National Coalition, in committing hundreds of crimes against the innocent Kurdish citizens in Afrin area, most of which rise to the level of the war crimes and crimes against humanity according to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, and the two Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, and the delegation informed them about the form of serious dangers that aim to the elimination of the historical presence of the Kurdish Yazidis in the area and the destruction of their religious shrines.
They also called on the international organizations to uphold their legal and moral responsibilities towards what is happening in Afrin area, of genocide crimes against the Kurds and to exert their efforts to denounce Turkey and bear it the responsibility of these crimes as an occupying country, and to issue a recommendation to the Human Rights Council to refer the file of the occupation of Afrin to the UN Security Council as a part preparation for referring it to the International Criminal Court.
The delegation of the human rights organization also discussed the Syrian situation in general, and the Kurdish situation in the rest Kurdish areas in particular, where the serious dangers and threats that these areas face were listed and presented, due to Turkey’s aggressive intention to invade and occupy these areas like what happened in Afrin area, and drive its sleeper cells of what remained of ISIS, to target the security situation in the Kurdish areas and devastate the Kurds’ livelihood through triggering deliberate blazes in the grain fields which devoured hundreds of thousands of dunams of fields, and at the end of the meeting, the two sides agreed to hold periodic meetings in order to inform these organizations about the latest developments on ground, also these international organizations vowed to observe the situations in the Kurdish areas in general and the area of Afrin in particular, and to do their best to insure protection for the civilian residents against the attacks that target them, and to inform the UN Security Council via the Human Rights Council about the tragic situation in Afrin area, also a memorandum of understanding was signed by the International Mechanism Organization through which the organization becomes authorized to use the evidence and documents presented to it by the delegation.
The memorandum which was submitted yesterday in Geneva by 12 human rights organizations to the international human rights organizations concerned with the Syrian situation, with regard to the situation in occupied Afrin
– Honorable Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
– Mr. Paulo Pinheiro, a head of International Independent Investigation Commission for Syria.
Ms.Catherina Marchi – Uhel respected
President of the Impartial Independent International Mechanism
It is no secret to your Excellency that Turkey – a Member State of the United Nations – has violated the sovereignty of a neighboring country and a fellow member of the United Nations by conducting unwarranted military action against the State of Syria on 20/01/2018 and occupying the Syrian region of Afrin. These actions, conducted with aircraft, tanks and other heavy weapons, are blatant and flagrant violations of the United Nations Charter, in particular article 2(4) on the prohibition of the use of force, article 51 on self-defense and article 33(1) concerning the need for a peaceful settlement of disputes.
Turkey has tried to deceive the world public by invoking false pretexts as to alleged fighting and terrorism to construct a claim on the preservation of national security. This constitutes a desperate attempt by Turkey to justify and legitimize its flagrant violations of article 51 of the United Nations Charter. Article 51 has been restricted to specific conditions under which the right of self-defense can be exercised, the most important of which is the occurrence of an armed attack. Any measure taken in self-defense must be proportional, as per the jurisprudence of the International Court of Justice and any action under article 51 must be reported to the Security Council.
According to the testimony of observers, the Afrin area was considered one of the most secure areas in Syria before the occupation. It was a model of peaceful coexistence between various components of the Syrian ethnic and religious diversity. Further, no security breaches at the borders to the Turkish state were recorded. Not a single bullet was launched from Afrin’s administrative border towards the international border with Turkey, in contrast to other areas of Syria, which have been involved in hostilities and the entry and exit of radical armed groups from and to Syria and Turkey. In Afrin, the security situation was calm and stable.
In his statements and threats days before the launch of the military operation on Afrin, the Turkish President Erdogan promised on several occasions to crush the Kurds and their forces. These statements revealed his intention of launching an offensive war. The absence of a threat and thus the absence of a defensive operation crystallized in his statement that, “If the terrorists do not surrender in Afrin, we will crush them.” In another speech, he commented on US statements about the establishment of a “border force” in northern Syria, promising “to destroy this terrorist army in its root”. This indicates the existence of premeditated intent by the Turkish leaders.
The military attack on Afrin constitutes an act of unjustified aggression in violation of article 51 of the United Nations Charter.
In its military aggression against the Afrin region, Turkey is siding with groups that are considered remnants of ISIS and Al-Nosra. Most of these groups’ leaders and fighters are on the international terrorism list. Turkey has unleashed those radical groups to accompany it in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity and in Afrin. One of Turkey’s aims in Afrin is to fight the Kurdish people. Turkey’s violations against the people of Afrin have been documented and corroborated with hundreds of evidence and documents attached to this memorandum.
However, these documentations reflect only a small number of the crimes that have occurred in Afrin. The documentation of additional crimes has been challenged by witnesses’ fear of punishment and retaliation and by the restrictions Turkey has put on communications and media entering and exiting Afrin. These measures are being taken to hide and cover up the crimes that occur in Afrin.
Crimes of arrest, abduction and torture of civilians: The number of civilian detainees in Afrin has reached more than 5199 since the beginning of the Turkish occupation, according to reliable and cross-border human rights sources.
There are 610 documented cases of torture in Turkish detention. The whereabouts of more than 1000 detainees are still unknown to this day. The occupation authorities and mercenaries from the military factions forced those who were released to pay large amounts of money: up to 10 million Syrian pounds ransom are being asked for the detainees’ release.
Crimes of looting, robbery, systematic theft and heavy tax imposition on citizens in order to force them to flee have occurred. Approximately 377 such cases have been documented.
The crimes of killing of members of the Kurdish forces and torture to death: The Turkish occupation forces and mercenaries of the armed factions have arbitrarily detained dozens of civilians on suspicion of collaborating with the former Kurdish administration and brutally and systematically tortured some of them to death. The names of 67 fighters who died at hands of the Turkish occupation forces and associated factions in this way, between 18/3/2018 and 29/6/2019, have been documented.
The crime of attacking and destroying religious cemeteries and shrines: Yazidis, Christians and other religious groups have been victims of grave attacks not only by the Turkish occupying forces but also by the allied Syrian jihadi factions, which consider them atheists that deserve to be killed and robbed of their possessions. Religious sites have been targeted (the bombing of Tel A’andara, Tomb of St. Maron, Julian’s Church and the archaeological temples in Brad, the ruins in village of Tremisha, and others).
The crime of forcible displacement of indigenous inhabitants and demographic change: By bringing thousands of settlers from Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo villages as settlers to Afrin to live in the houses of displaced Kurds who were driven from their homes by the Turkish war machine, the area’s demographics have been changed significantly. Before the Turkish occupation, 95% of the population in Afrin was Kurdish. But now, about 60% of the population in Afrin is Arab. The occupiers have also changed the names of villages and city landmarks from Kurdish to Turkish and Arabic, forcing Turkish culture and Arabization on the region. Afrin’s Kurdish identity and history are being wiped away.
Arson targeting thousands of hectares of forests and forest trees: In Mount Hawar, Jaya Khastiya, Haj al-Hasan and surrounding fields of Meidanki lake, thousands of olive trees have been cut and destroyed.
The aforementioned acts constitute flagrant violations by Turkey of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, the Additional Protocols of 1977 thereto and the Hague Conventions of 1899-1907. In addition, the mentioned crimes may amount to the crime of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity under articles 7, 8 and 8bis of Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and the crime of genocide stipulated in article 2 of Convention on Prevention of Crime of Genocide and Article 6 of the Rome Statute.
We, the undersigned human rights and civil rights organizations, hereby ask you to uphold your legal and moral responsibilities towards the tragic human rights situation in the Afrin region as international organizations concerned with the monitoring and documentation of human rights violations in the world through:
1. Sending international observers and investigators to the Afrin area to investigate and document the crimes committed there against the civilian population by the occupying power of Turkey and the Jihadi factions of the Syrian National Coalition.
2. Condemning Turkey as an occupying power and holding it fully responsible for the war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Afrin region.
3. Issuing a recommendation and submitting a report to the Human Rights Council calling for a Security Council referral of the situation to the International Criminal Court.
4. Sending humanitarian and relief assistance to the displaced people from the Afrin area in the Shahba area camps.
5. Ensure the safe return of the up to 300.000 displaced persons from Afrin with international protection and guarantees for their safety.
6. Demanding disclosure of the fate and whereabouts of thousands of forcibly disappeared and detained Kurds on suspicion of working with the former Kurdish administration.
7. Dissuading Turkey from continuing to violate the United Nations Charter and demanding the end of its occupation of the Afrin area and the exit of the Turkish forces and the Syrian jihadist factions, putting the Afrin area under international protection until a comprehensive solution to the Syrian problem is found.
You are advocates for oppressed people. Our utmost appreciation and respect goes to you.
1- Syrian Observatory for Human rights
2- The Kurdish Legal Organisation(DYK) ..
3_ The Human Rights Committee in Syria (MAV).
4_ Kurdish Society for the Defense of Human Rights in Austria.
5_ Human Rights Organization in Syria (MAV).
6_ Justice Centre for Human rights.
7- Documentation Center for violations in northern Syria(Vdc-nsy).
-8 Mahabad Human Rights Organization.:
-9 Ezdina Foundation for Monitoring Human Rights Violations
10-Kurds without boroders
11-Society for Threatened Peoples
12- Kurdish association Hevi-Belgium