A letter from the Afrin Women’s to the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – in Qamishloo

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To Mr. António Gutteres, Secretary-General of the United Nations.
To Mrs. Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
To Mr. Paulo Pinheiro, chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic.

written: bahozikurdistan

Videos and photos of the series of crimes and violations committed by Turkish occupation authorities and armed groups loyal to it affiliated with what is called the “Syrian National Army” in the Syrian Kurdish region of Afrin, recently leaked by the mercenaries themselves, revealed that these groups are holding dozens of Kurdish women in a military center and carrying out violence against them.
This visual evidence is added to dozens of daily reports and news about crimes and practices carried out by armed groups under the instructions of the Turkish occupation authorities, and it is an additional confirmation of this terroristic behavior that has ruled the region since Turkey occupied it. These actions are outside the realm of legality and do not take into account the lowest considerations for humanity and morality, amid the shameful silence of international institutions.
These armed factions are entities that do not posses even the lowest levels of legal legitimacy, and they are an instrument used by Ankara to occupy Afrin and displace 80% of its original Kurdish inhabitants. The rest of these residents remain in a large prison in which they are subjected to the imposition of fines, theft, imprisonment, torture, kidnapping, and murder.
The practices of armed groups against Kurdish women is a blatant violation of all internationally adopted laws and social norms, and it differs in no way from the practices of ISIS in enslaving women, insulting their dignity, and brutalizing them.
What is happening in Afrin violates the natural right of a human being to live, as well as a number of international laws, including:

  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted internationally in Paris on 10/12/1948 and stated in its fifth article, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” In Article Nine: “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.” In Article Twelve: “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”
  • Article Seven of the Rome Statute defines the imprisonment, torture, enslavement, and assault of women and their honor as a crime against humanity, punishable by international law.
    -Article 27 of the Geneva Convention states that “protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honor, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs. It contains articles and provisions prohibiting cruel treatment and attacks on personal dignity.
  • Declaration of the United Nations General Assembly in 1974 concerning the protection of women and children.
  • Principles of the (1993) International Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.
  • Recommendations in the CEDAW Convention on the Status of Women.
    For all the above mentioned articles, we demand the international community and the relevant international institutions:
    1- Take immediate action to end all violations which have been occurring in Afrin for more than two years, and reveal the fate of the Kurdish women in prison in the prisons and detention centers of the armed factions loyal to the Turkish occupation and liberate them immediately.
    2- Form an international investigatory committee to prosecute perpetrators for the crimes they committed, including murder, kidnapping, and torture of Kurdish women in Afrin.
    3- Allow trusted media organizations to enter Afrin region to impart objectively and truthfully the bitter reality of the remaining indigenous people in it.
    4- End the Turkish occupation, expel the extremist groups, and ensure a safe and dignified return of displaced people to their lands.
    5 – Classify the armed groups controlling Afrin as terrorist groups, according to the behavior they practice.

The Displaced Women of Afrin
June 1, 2020

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