UN’s Geneva forum on minority rights | ِActivists call for protecting oppressed minorities in Syria and providing legislation to secure their rights
The two-day 14th UN Forum on Minority Issues was held in Geneva under the title “Conflict Prevention through Protection of Human Rights of Minorities”. The forum that kicked off on Dec.2 designated part of sessions for discussing the conditions of the prosecuted minorities in Syria since 2011 and the years before.
Soliman Ismael, a human rights activist, lawyer and member of the Kurdish Committee for Human Rights, who took part in the UN forum, told the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) that protecting the rights of minorities will contribute to achieving the political and social stability in Syria and promoting cooperation among different people and countries.
“Syria is a country of religious and national diversity which will not be ensured without securing the highest level of justice criteria of completely protecting the minorities via a secular democratic system that regulates separation between religion and ruling the country, safeguarding human dignity, protecting rights and assuring freedoms,” Ismael said, adding that any system should be built upon consensus and unity and should maintain the diversity and rights of all the religious, national and social historic aspects, including the right of developing its culture and protecting its inheritance and practicing its distinguished languages.
Ismael adds that we should adopt a clear policy that is hard to be interpreted in a way different from the nature of the qualitative changes required for confronting any incomplete applications that conflict with the aspired equality spirit under any pretext.
The legal activist added no one can deny the difficult conditions of the Kurdish people who encountered systematic persecution, oppressive policies that reached the level of ethnic cleansing to end their presence since the establishment of the Syrian. Ismael described those policies as” Chauvinist racism.”
Ismael reiterates that the political authority in Syria over decades has been fighting Kurdish composition and has been seeking to eliminate it and treated it as “an enemy to the rest of society and its segments, and planted hatred, antagonism and fears among them.”
Those policies also portrayed the Kurdish people as “a threatening element to the Syrian national security. Sadly, these policies and mentality are also shared by the Syrian opposition that still deals with the Kurdish cause as a threat to national security despite the Kurds’ huge patriotism which is self-evident throughout Syria’s modern history achieved great accomplishments in the modern Syrian history.”
The activist also refers to the crimes and violations committed against large segments of Syrian society at the hands of the armed opposition and the Turkish occupying forces, noting that the crimes in Afrin, Sere Kaniyeand karySaby are considered “war crimes, and crimes against humanity.”
These violations impacted humans, trees, stones and reached the level of destroying archaeological sites, vandalising tombs of the Yazidis, chopping and burning olive trees and forcing and deporting people from their own areasin order to cause demographic changes in those areas; all of this has happened blatantly and publicly.
Ismael called for taking early precautionary measures to prevent any intervention by the Turkish army and its proxy factions in the Kurdish-held areas and demanded the release of all detainees who were transferred to Turkeyfor trials under the Turkish criminal code while they carry the Syrian nationality and many of them have been sentenced to life in prison.
He called for intervening and tackling the problem of displacement caused by the Turkish occupation within the framework of protecting individuals from forced displacement compulsory deportation.
He stressed the importance of the withdrawal of the Turkish army and its factions from different villages and applying international laws and holding the perpetrators of crimes against minoritiesaccountable.
Meanwhile, Juwan Isso, a Kurdish human rights activist and member of the deportation committee of Sere Kaniyetold SOHR that since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, the physical and psychological harm has been mounting against the national and ethnic minorities, especially with the expansion of the armed conflicts and the presence of the armed terrorist groups and the opposition that pretended to be democratic.
Reports of SOHR and other human rights organisations have documented crimes that reach the level of war crimes and genocide, noting that the border areas witnessed the largest massacres in light of deportation, change of language, kidnap and raping women and assaulting children in blatant violations to international laws and the principles of the UN and The Universal Declaration of Human Rights whose anniversary is celebrated on December 10.
Mr. Isso adds that violent practices of Turkey and its extremist armed factions in the north part of Syria have caused material and physiological harm to a certain part of humanity, calling for the perpetrators to face justice because the sufferings still affect minorities who are victims of the ongoing Syrian conflict.
He called for drafting international legislation that ensures the rights of the oppressed minorities because the majority of those minorities has been deported internally or abroad.
The Kurdish activist sees the prevalent non-democratic and centralised regimes in the Middle East are deemed as “a violent threat to the minorities rights due to the absence of social justice”, and expresses his concerns that Syria might turn to the stage of one colour and one shape due to the deportation of most of the minorities in Syria.
Concerning the abuses and violations that face the minorities, Isso adds that denying their rights of speaking their language and practicing their religious rituals and forcing them to adhere to specific approaches are the most prominent violations and breaches that should be confronted, noting the importance of fighting the extremist religious discourse that chases minorities.
In this context, SOHR as a human rights organization has always called for respecting differences, peaceful coexistence, safeguarding human dignity and ensuring the rights of the prosecuted minorities via enacting international and regional laws and legislations that enshrine living in peace and harmony for all.
SOHR demands to exert real efforts with regards to protecting the prosecuted people of the injustice that is produced by the successive governments which continue in practicing violations against humanity.
SOHR calls for real efforts to be exerted and for a real change to happen with regard to protecting persecuted people from the successive governments which continue their violations against humanity.
On the other hand, the participating Syrian organisations stressed in a paper presented to the forum, of which SOHR has obtained a copy, to take early precautionary measures to prevent any possible intervention of the Turkish army and its allied armed factions in the Kurdish areas in Syria. The paper also demanded the release of all the detainees who were transferred to Turkey to stand trial in accordance with the Turkish criminal code and to provide humanitarian relief and support to the forcibly displaced from the occupied Kurdish cities, as well as to reconsider the work of the committee concerned with drafting the Syrian constitution that excluded theKurds and Yazidis.