The Reference: Killed and tortured: Erdogan’s army targets Syrian refugees across the border
Syrians have been repeatedly killed by Turkey’s Gendarmerie border guards, as the regime of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to strip the Syrians of their rights, amounting to crimes punishable by international law and considered war crimes.
The number of Syrian refugees killed by Turkish soldiers increased to 463 by the end of June, including 86 children under the age of 18 and 59 women, according to the Violations Documentation Center in Northern Syria.
Most observers had assumed that the Turkish policy towards displaced Syrians was the best among the countries of the region, as it provided them with basic services such as education and health for free, although it did not reach the level of the Europeans in dealing with refugees.
However, according to the testimonies of human rights activists, displaced Syrians and detainees of other nationalities trying to cross the border are discriminated against and treated poorly in Turkish border guard prisons, policies that can be described as systematic.
Those detained by the Turkish border guards did not receive any meals for two days of their detention and only drank faucet water from the bathrooms, while the prison guards took turns insulting and beating them for trivial reasons such as looking at the guards.
In the event that the displaced are not subjected to beatings or insults, they are treated as forced laborers. The Turkish soldiers choose young, strong-bodied detainees to do manual work at the border outposts, such as carrying equipment, transporting dirt or cleaning the floors.
A report by the Violations Documentation Center in Northern Syria also confirmed that the number of detainees wounded by gunshots or assaulted by the Turkish border guards rose to 494 people.
The Violations Documentation Center in Northern Syria was also able to collect data in June that included the killing of a child and the wounding of 10 others who were trying to cross the Turkish border to flee from the ongoing war in Idlib and Aleppo. An elderly man also lost his life as a result of his injury after Turkish forces bombed his house in Tal Rifaat.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitored the Turkish Gendarmerie torturing eight Syrian citizens from Idlib, beating them brutally for four consecutive hours before taking them back to Syrian territory the next day.
The Turkish Gendarmerie’s crimes violate international laws, conventions and guidelines aimed at protecting refugees that were adopted in 1951 when the United Nations General Assembly approved the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.
In the event of an international armed conflict, citizens of a country fleeing hostilities and settling in the enemy’s country are to enjoy protection under the Fourth Geneva Convention, on the basis that they are foreigners residing in the territory of a party to the conflict. This convention requires the host country to provide refugees with preferential treatment and to refrain from treating them on the basis of their nationality without enjoying the protection of any government.
The Second Protocol (Article 17) also prohibits the forcible transfer of civilians, as it is not permissible to order their deportation except on an exceptional basis, which was stipulated in Article 7 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court, which considers the forcible transfer of a population as a crime against humanity.
As for ensuring the protection of women refugees, it requires not only adherence to the 1951 Convention and its protocols, but also commitment to other international instruments that provide a framework of international human rights standards for carrying out protection and assistance activities related to women refugees.