Women’s Council of NE Syria presents report on Turkish war crimes

The United Nations should establish a commission of inquiry and investigate the violations of the Turkish army and its members in Northern and Eastern Syria, said the Women’s Council of Northern and Eastern Syria.

The Women’s Council of Northern and Eastern Syria has presented a report on the war crimes committed by NATO member Turkey and its Islamist allies in the ongoing invasion of Northern Syria in violation of international law. In it, they argue that the aggression committed is synonymous with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. In the following we document the list of violations of human rights mentioned by them, as well as their demands:

Violations of human rights conventions

1-Turkey has been attacking the regions of Northern and Eastern Syria and committing crimes of aggression since 9 October 2019. Thus it violates Resolution 3314 (XXIX) adopted by the UN General Assembly on 14 December 1974.

These attacks violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria.

3-In Serêkaniyê (Ras al-Ain) and Girê Spî (Tal Abyad), the Turkish state violated the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property by destroying the entire cultural heritage and flying its flag at all institutions.

4-Turkey invokes its right to self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter in its attacks on Northern and Eastern Syria, but violates the article itself. An armed attack by Northern and Eastern Syria against Turkey has not yet been proven.

5 Massacres have been perpetrated against the Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians and Syriacs. These constitute a violation of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948.

6-The expulsion of 300,000 people from northern and eastern Syria and the prevention of their return, as well as the change in the demographic structure of the region, violate Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, adopted in 1949.

7-The destruction of movable or immovable property and the appropriation of personal or communal property of the Kurds in/from Serêkaniyê and Girê Spî violate Article 8 of the Rome Statute.

8-If Article 6 of the Rome Statute is violated, which includes acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such and defined as genocide, is equally present. Since the invasion of Northern and Eastern Syria by the Turkish State began, eight children have died and a further 69 have been injured. According to Heyva Sor a Kurd (Kurdish Red Crescent), 70,000 children were expelled from Serêkaniyê and Girê Spî.

9-The number of women (civilians) killed in the occupation attacks in Turkey is 21. A further 154 women were injured in the attacks. These are violations of Article 7 of the Geneva Convention.

10-The execution on 12 October 2019 of Havrin Khalaf (Hevrîn Xelef), General Secretary of the Future Party of Syria, the desecration of her body and the documentation of her murder are contrary to Article 7 of the Rome Statute, which regulates crimes against humanity.

11-The mistreatment of the body of the fallen YPJ fighter Amara Rênas (Azize Celal) by jihadist troops of the so-called “Syrian National Army” (SNA), the degrading filming of the crime and the publication of the recordings in the social media violate Article 8 of the Geneva Convention.

12-The abduction and execution of health workers Media Bouzan, Mohamed Bouzan Saidi and Havin Khalil Ibrahim (Heyva Sor a Kurd employees) violate Article 7 of the Geneva Convention.

13 members of armed groups published footage of YPJ fighter Çiçek Kobanê, who was wounded and taken prisoner of war and subjected to inhuman treatment. This constitutes a war crime under Articles 13, 14, 15 and 16 of the Geneva Convention and contravenes Articles 7 and 8 of the Rome Statute.

14-On 13 October 2019, fighter planes of the Turkish State of Serêkaniyê and a civilian convoy on their way to the city bombed under the use of banned and chemical substances. 18 people died in the attack and more than 70 were injured. These are also internationally outlawed war crimes. In this context, the human rights organisation Amnesty International also accuses Turkey of war crimes, mass killings and illegal or arbitrary attacks. The 13-year-old Mihemed Hemid (Mohammed Hamid), who suffered massive burns during the attacks on Serêkaniyê, is still being treated in a hospital in France.

15-A bombardment of the Eluk/Amûdê drinking water depot cut off about 500,000 people from the water supply. Power lines and distribution systems were also targeted, opening the door to humanitarian disasters. These acts contravene Article 54 of Additional Protocol I of 8 June 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 on the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts, which regulates and prohibits the protection of objects essential to the life of civilians by attacking, destroying, removing or rendering unusable food, food-producing agricultural areas, harvests and livestock, drinking water facilities and supplies and irrigation systems.

16-On November 2, 2019, a vehicle belonging to the Free Burma Rangers was attacked at Til Temir. The doctor Zau Seng (37) died in the attack, another team member was injured. An ambulance of the German aid organisation CADUS and the Serêkaniyê hospital were also attacked. These are violations of Articles 8 and 13 of the Geneva Convention.

17- Humanitarian zones, security zones and safety corridors for wounded, fallen and civilians fleeing bombardment have not been created. This is contrary to Articles 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 of the Geneva Convention.

18-The Turkish state bombed protected ancient sites and historic settlement mounds in northern and eastern Syria. This constitutes a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2347 on the protection of cultural property.

19- In the attack on a civilian convoy on 13 October 2019, the journalist and ANHA correspondent Seed Ehmed (Saad al-Ahmad) was killed. On 12 November 2019, the Turkish army opened fire on a protesting crowd in Kobanê, injuring journalists* Zozan Remedan Berkel (JinTV) and Dilyar Cizirî (Ronahî TV). These acts violate Article 79 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Convention on the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts. Journalists carrying out dangerous professional assignments in areas of armed conflict shall be considered civilians and shall be protected as such.

20- All churches in Serêkaniyê and the Armenian church in Girê Spî have been attacked and plundered. The Roman Statute identifies deliberate attacks on religious buildings as war crimes. Religious cultural assets are also protected against destruction, damage, theft and looting by the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

Catalogue of demands to the international community

1-All points of the ceasefire agreement in Northern and Eastern Syria must be met. In addition, all non-Syrian actors must withdraw from the country.

2To protect the civilian population, a no-fly zone must be established over northern and eastern Syria.

3-In order to prevent the Turkish state from intending to change the demography of the region, the return of displaced civilians to their homes in Serêkaniyê and Girê Spî must be guaranteed under international supervision.

4-UN peacekeepers and internationally recognized peacekeepers should be sent to Northern and Eastern Syria to stop the attacks of the Turkish state.

5- The United Nations should establish a commission of inquiry and investigate the violations of the Turkish army and its members in Northern and Eastern Syria.

6-The execution of politician Havrin Khalaf and fighter Amara Rênas, the ill-treatment of their corpses and the torture of fighter Çiçek Kobanê must be prosecuted.

7-NATO must be called upon to take a stand on Turkey’s attacks on Northern and Eastern Syria using NATO weapons.

8-Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his subordinate groups should be indicted by international criminal courts for the use of prohibited weapons and the commission of crimes as defined in the war crimes referred to above. Erdogan has openly stated that he ‘wants to bury the Kurds underground’. This hateful testimony illustrates the intent of the war crimes against the Kurdish people.