للمذكرة الموجهة للامم المتحدة التي وجهها حزب الوحدة الديمقراطي الكردي في سوريا (يكيتي)
عن أوضاع مناطق “عفرين، رأس العين، تل أبيض” وملاحظات عن تقرير لجنة التحقيق الدولية المعنية بسوريا
Back to the report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria – September 2020
António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, Karen Koning Abu Zayd, Hani Majali, Chairman and members of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic.
Marchi-Uhel Head of the International, Impartial, and Independent Mechanism for Assistance in the Investigation and Prosecution – of Syria.
Elizabeth Teche-Fiselberger, President of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Filippo Grandi, President of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
The people of wounded Syria in general are eager to hear any news that refreshes a little bit the hope they have lost in terms of stopping the war, bloodshed and displacement. The United Nations, with the lofty purposes for which it was founded, is no doubt the one on which hope is made despite its apparent inability to put an end to the Syrian tragedy that has been going on for more than nine years.
Pursuant to the two previous memos that we submitted to you regarding the two reports issued by the Independent International Investigation Committee on Syria mandated by the Human Rights Council, in March and September 2019, with the criticisms, observations, clarifications and demands they included about the esteemed committee’s assessment of the prevailing conditions in northern areas of Syria under Turkish control in general and Afrin in particular; we would like to say that the latest report A / HRC / 45/31 dated September 14, 2020, which contained a diagnosis of violations and crimes committed in the areas of “Afrin, Ras al-Ain, and Tal Abyad” in northern Syria, that are practically under the Turkish occupation, and holding Turkey to some extent responsible for the crimes is highly appreciated and created a sense of comfort by many Syrians at home and abroad.
Despite the remarkable development in the new report, we present this memo on what it said about the areas of “Afrin, Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad,” in addition to other aspects and observations, with the aim of clarifying facts and realities as much as possible and define responsibilities more precisely.
The esteemed committee said in its report that the “Syrian National Army” has committed war crimes of looting and destroying or seizing the property of the opponents, taking hostages, cruel treatment, torture and raping, and deporting Syrians in its custody to Turkey, as well as looting and demolishing cultural property in violation of international humanitarian law. It also mentioned the sexual and gender-based violence practiced in Afrin by members of the “Syrian National Army”; noting that Turkey, in the areas under its actual control, “bears the responsibility as much as possible to ensure public order, public safety and provide special protection for women and children.” The report also states that the committee notes “allegations that Turkish forces were aware of incidents of looting and confiscating civilians’ properties and were present in detention facilities run by the Syrian National Army where ill-treatment of detainees was widespread, including interrogation sessions in which torture was used.” , and “the committee continues to investigate the extent to which the various brigades of the Syrian National Army and Turkish forces form a common hierarchy of command and control.… ”
Honorable Ladies and Gentlemen,
In its report, the committee described war crimes committed by the “Syrian National Army” in Afrin and Ras al-Ein regions. Despite the effective completion of the war in Afrin – except for some sporadic clashes on its southeastern and eastern borders – after the Turkish Ministry of Defense officially declared control on the area on March 24, 2018, many violations and crimes have been committed against civilian Kurds and their region in a systematic and permanent manner on a large scale during more than two years and a half, for more than ten months in the cases of Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad. Thus, the aforementioned crimes have turned to crimes against humanity as defined in Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and they [crimes] require an accurate description and documentation, and identify their perpetrators and those are responsible for them.
As a matter of fact, there are important and serious basic aspects that the committee did not address in its report, or merely hinted to them without delving deep into the definition of responsibilities, despite their persistence and the presentation of a lot of evidence and facts about them by our media office – Afrin and many other human rights and civil organizations.
Therefore, we would like to clarify the following basic topics:
First – Crimes against Humanity:
More than 300 civilians were killed and more than 1000 injured during the war on Afrin. Due to armed robbery, torture, blasts, mines and physical liquidation, in addition to deaths as a result of persecution, violations and bad circumstances imposed on Afrin since its occupation, nearly 130 civilians, including elderly, children and women, have been killed since March 18, 2018 to date.
In Ras al-Ain (Serêkaniyê in Kurdish) and Tal Abyad (Girê Spi in Kurdish) hundreds of civilians were killed and injured during the aggression against it in October 2019 by Turkish forces and pro-Syrian militias, which used various types of weapons, including the burning white phosphorous against the military and civilians alike. Victims continue to fall as a result of terrorist bombings bearing the hallmarks of extremist and fundamentalist organizations or as a result of armed robbery and kidnapping, with continuation of chaos and insecurity, in contrast to the relative safety and stability enjoyed by the two regions during the previous years of the Self-Administration before the Turkish invasion.
– Demographic Change:
The committee said: “After looting civilian property, Syrian National Army fighters and their families occupied homes after civilians’ escape, or they ultimately forced residents, most of whom were of Kurdish origin, to leave their homes, through threats, extortion, murder, kidnapping, torture and detention…”, in an explicit declaration for the forced displacement of the indigenous people and their deportation from the Afrin and Ras al-Ain regions.
In the wake of the Turkish incursion and indiscriminate attacks on Afrin region in the first quarter of 2018, more than 250,000 people were displaced to the Syrian inland, and nearly 200,000 of them were prevented from returning to their homes by closing the area crossings in front of them by the Turkish authorities starting from 4/4 / 2018 AD, so they remained homeless in displacement areas. Some people fled to (the villages of Jebel Lilon, the towns of Nubl, Zahraa, Deir Jamal, and Tal Rafat, and the villages and towns of al-Shahba …) – north of Aleppo, while others fled to Aleppom Kobani and Jazira regions – east of the Euphrates. Entire villages for example but not restricted to (Gilbar, Kobleh, Dirmishmish, Zreikat, Basleh, Khalta” – Rubaria, bi3rafa and Darwish” -annexed to Rajo district, “Qastal Jindo, Pavlon, Shekhorsee, Arafa “- annexed to Sharra district) were closed to the return of their inhabitants either to use them as military bases or for their occupation by the families of the militants. The number of Kurds in the region has decreased to about / 150 / thousand people, most of whom are from the old age groups, as the percentage of young people has decreased because most of them fled from the aggressions and harsh conditions. On the other hand, more than / 450 / thousand people of the Arab and Turkmen recruited people who were transferred from Damascus Countryside, Hama, Homs, Idlib and western Aleppo, were settled in the homes and properties of people in the forcibly seized area shortly after the Syrian government forces took control of those areas according to Astana deals and understandings between Russia, Turkey and Iran. As a result, the demographics of the region changed dramatically, and the percentage of Kurds decreased from / 95% / to less than / 25% /, so the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan realized his claims that the percentage of Kurds in Afrin does not exceed 35% and the rest are Arabs and Turkmen! The demographic change also included other aspects, such as destroying and demolishing shrines, religious symbols, cemeteries, and archaeological and historical sites, changing the names of villages, squares and schools and raising the Turkish flag on them, as well as fighting the Kurdish language and culture. In addition to spreading a new Ottoman and extreme religious culture, in order to change the cultural and national character of the region and cut off its people from communication with their historical heritage leave alone the daily pressures being exerted against the remaining Kurds in the region, with the aim of pushing them to leave their land and property towards a continuous forced migration.
As for Ras al-Ain, the vast majority of its indigenous people including Kurds, Syrians, Armenians and Chechens have forcibly been displaced from it, and thousands of families of the recruited militants were settled in their place and in their homes. The city of Ras al-Ain became almost empty of its original inhabitants, after they were forcibly displaced and their homes and shops as well as public facilities have been plundered.
In Tal Abyad, tens of thousands of Kurds – indigenous residents – the city and its villages have been evacuated under the strikes of Turkish bombing and invasion; only a few families remained. The villages became empty, and the families of thousands of armed men were housed in the homes of the displaced from the city after looting it.
Facing the consequences, some of the displaced Arab residents in the areas of Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad may be able to return to their cities and villages bearing the potential risks. Kurds, Syriacs, Assyrians and Armenians, however, are effectively prevented from returning, under penalty of arrest, kidnapping, enforced disappearance, insult and even murder under torture, and in all cases their property has are permissible, including their own homes, to the others.
Turkey has not adhered to the content of Security Council Resolution 2254 (2015) in terms of “taking appropriate steps to protect civilians, creating conducive conditions to the safe and voluntary return of the refugees and internally displaced people to their areas of origin and rehabilitating the affected areas, in accordance with international law,”. It has committed grave breaches of international humanitarian law in terms of protection civilians, private and public property, etc.
The demographic change affecting the Kurds in their historical regions – as a distinct ethnicity, rises to the level of ethnic cleansing against them. Ethnic cleansing does not necessarily mean mass killing, but rather any intention or attempt to evict any ethnic or religious group from a specific geographical area using armed force, or by intimidation and frightening. It also means deportation and forced displacement, or other forms of persecution such as obliterating cultural, linguistic and ethnic specificities, or by rhetoric of hatred and incitement to violence, or by preventing the return of those displaced by hostilities, as well as other methods developed to try to eliminate that group. It is true that international law has not yet recognized or ratified “ethnic cleansing” as an independent crime, but it was mentioned as a term in UN reports, and in United Nations Resolution No. (47/121) issued on 12/18/1992 regarding “Bosnia and Herzegovina”, which mentioned in the introduction to the resolution the “abhorrent policy of ethnic cleansing”; Especially since ethnic cleansing is classified as a crime against humanity. Ignoring its most prominent aspect, such as the demographic change in Afrin, Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad, by the independent committee is wrong and surprising.
– Looting and seizure property, enslavement and impoverishment of the population:
In the regions of Afrin, Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad, the properties and belongings of indigenous population who have been forcibly displaced were looted and seized by the militias of the “Syrian National Army” based on the instructions of its masters in the Ankara government and the fatwas of their sheikhs, in order to cut off the hope of return for the displaced, and to consolidate and expand the demographic change that has been taking place there.
The committee affirmed in its report that “National Army’s members deliberately looted and seized Kurdish property…”. From our side we confirm that the coordinated looting and seizure of Kurdish property is continuing and is taking place on a large scale.
In Afrin region, looting and seizure have exceeded half of the absentees’ property of and a part of the remaining ones. There are continuous attempts to seize more through the fake “real estate documentation and agricultural registration” procedures updated according to the whims of the occupiers. In addition to the attempts to disperse and loot what is left in the hands of its owners by imposing royalties on agricultural crops, machinery, stores, workshops, mills, olive pomace and soap factories, and operating productive workshops, in addition to the widespread theft of crops, products, devices, tools and machinery, while restricting the sale and purchase of crops, products and goods, especially olive oil, by mechanisms controlled by the militia leaders and the Turkish commercial team to make more gains and profits at the expense of the livelihoods of the indigenous population. Some Kurds are even obliged to work for the benefit of militia leaders such as forced labor without paying them wages like slaves at a time when the economic conditions are deteriorating and there is scarcity of job opportunities due to the deterioration of stability and security situation and imposing restrictions on the movement and role of the Kurds commercial, industrial and agricultural businesses. The militants and those who have been resettled also refrain from evacuating homes and shops belonging to the indigenous people, despite their repeated demands and filing numerous complaints. There have been cases of expulsion of Kurdish families from their homes or the homes belonging to their relatives in order to accommodate the recruited ones instead of them, or forcing them to accommodate recruited families in their own homes.
As for the areas of Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad, the militias stole most of the private and public property and most of the cables for the telephone and electricity networks and irrigation water hoses, and looted about 730 / thousand tons of wheat, barley, fertilizer, cotton and seed stocks in grain silos and warehouses as spoils, and they sold them to war merchants, local and Turkish merchants, and the Turkish Grain Corporation TMO in full view of the Turkish intelligence and authorities. They also seized most of the agricultural lands to invest and cultivate for their own benefit – as a large proportion of their owners have been displaced. The looting and appropriation explain why they prevent people from returning to their homes.
– Indiscriminate and Arbitrary arrests, Enforced Disappearances:
In addition to kidnapping, abduction, detention and waves of arrests by the militia of the “Syrian National Army”, since the first day of the invasion of Afrin; there have been arbitrary and random arrests of the indigenous people. There have also been cases of torture, insults and theft of possessions and money during raids and searches. They are still ongoing and sometimes the same people, including women, elderly and teenagers, are arrested more than once under the pretext of relationships with the previous administration (employee, teacher, guard, member of the commune or local council, Asayish element, compulsory service …) or affiliation to Kurdish parties or on suspicion or simply based on malicious reports. Under the direct supervision of the Turkish intelligence, a fine of / 1100 / Turkish liras is imposed on each detainee, and imprisoning most of the detainees for a period of / 20-40 / days. In some cases, there more severe penalties, as in what happened in the town of Maabatli during the past weeks of arresting and fining about / 30 / people, including women, members and employees in the local council associated with the occupation authorities. The aim is not only to generate financial revenues, but also to impoverish and terrify the indigenous population and push them for forced migration, in addition to creating a security database on detainees for the benefit of Turkish intelligence, and some of them have been deported to Turkey in order to punish them there. Some detainees were sentenced to life imprisonment or for several years (as it happened with some citizens from the village of Amra – Rajo). Not only that, but also some Afrin residents who had been living in Turkey were arrested and their trial based on reports submitted by the occupation authorities inside Syria. The law and the judiciary system that have been established in Afrin have become a tool for abusing detainees and indigenous people, and not to do justice to them, redress their grievances, hold criminals accountable or arrest thieves.
There are more than / 1100 / residents of Afrin are forcibly disappeared, and what worries their families greatly is the possibility of losing their lives under torture, illness or infection with the Coronavirus in secret prisons that lack the minimum rules of health and safety. Testimonies of some of the released indicate that most of them are hidden under severe and degrading circumstances in the prisons of “Al-Ra’i, Marea, Al-Bab, Sajou-Azaz”, which are under the control of the Turkish army occupying the so-called “Euphrates Shield”. Some of them have recently been released after they disappeared for about two years. They fear, however, to disclose the conditions and torture that they had suffered from. A concrete proof of the existence of such secret prisons for the militias, is the accidental discovery of / 11 / women and a baby in the headquarters of the “Hamzat Division” – the former Asayish building in the Mahmudiyah neighborhood in Afrin, on 5/28/2020 AD, and their removal after militias of ” Islam Army “took control of the headquarters following clashes between the two parties. It’s worth noting that the women had been forcibly disappeared for almost two years. The “Military Police” took over their command a few days later and returned them to “Hamzat” who hid them again, without bringing them to a trial or release them.
Thus, the arbitrary and random arrests as well as forcibly disappearances that are carried out on a large scale and probably for political reasons on the background of actions that the targeted people may have carried out before the arrival of the occupation authorities, constitute a crime against humanity, committed against the Kurds as a particular distinct ethnic group. Turkey, as an occupying state, also commits violation of Article / 70 / of the Fourth Geneva Convention / 1949 / which does not permit “the occupying power to arrest, prosecute, or condemn protected persons for actions they committed or opinions expressed prior to the occupation…etc.”
– Cultural and National Oppression and Degrading Treatment:
What Turkish officials, soldiers and armed men from the so-called “Syrian National Army” have repeatedly declared about the Kurds, describing them as separatists and terrorists, calling them atheists and infidels, issuing fatwas permitting the looting of their property and harming them, and exposing the remaining of them in their areas to daily insults and cases of extortion and provocation, reflect a racial and chauvinistic hostility towards them. Repression and persecution of the Kurds is carried out in a systematic manner, at a time when those who have been settled are favored, and even encouraged to attack the Kurds and their property, especially since most of them carry individual weapons while the Kurds are forbidden to carry any weapon, even if it is a hunting gun. In addition to depriving the Kurds of learning in their mother tongue and speaking it or celebrating their national day, Nowruz, and even fighting their culture, changing the landmarks and names of schools, villages, towns and squares, and striving to dismantle the social fabric, and attack their symbols (demolishing the statue of “Kawa the Haddad” in Afrin, for example), and destroying the graves of their martyrs and shrines of religious and cultural figures, and sabotaging of the gravestones which are written in the Kurdish language and the shrines of their ancient sheikhs. In addition to forcing the people of Afrin, those who have been resettled in it, to hold personal identification cards granted by the occupation authorities in both Turkish and Arabic, with the aim of melting everyone into a new community crucible and with a “new Ottoman” identity that is imposed through numerous activities under religious and charitable names, in new efforts to Arabize and Turkify the occupied territories.
Persecution of the Yazidis, the Ancient Syrians, the Assyrians, and the Armenians:
Following the aggression on Afrin, some Yazidi villages were completely evacuated from their inhabitants, such as the villages of Qastal Jundu and Pavlon. As a result, the presence of the Yazidis in general has decreased. Despite this, the remaining of them were and are still subjected to various harassment and public mockery of their sacred things and beliefs, forcing some of them to attend mosques and convert to Islam at a time when they are prohibited from practicing their religious rituals or celebrating their holidays. They even dare not reveal their religion, and some of them have been killed, kidnapped, arrested and tortured, and many of their shrines have been vandalized (Sheikh Rakab, Basufan …). In contrast to that, they were fully enjoying their freedom and rights under the previous Self-Administration before the Turkish invasion. The Yazidis constitute a basic historical root of the Kurds, their heritage and culture. However, the jihadist militias pose a threat to their lives.
In Ras al-Ain there was a suburb for the Yezidi Kurds named “Zardasht District”. IN addition to that, there were more than ten Yazidi villages in Ras Al-Ain eastern countryside (Mirikis, Jan Tamr, Lazakah, Shukria, Jaffa, Ladara, Koua Qabr, Sheikh Hussein, Metulla, Bir Nuh, Hamidiyeh) As well as their villages in its western countryside (Asadiya, Khirbet Banat, Khirbet Ghazal …). All those villages have now become completely empty of its Kurdish Yazidi population after the Turkish invasion of the region. In the village of “Jan Tamr”, which is occupied by the terrorist “Sultan Murad” militia, a large cemetery of the Yezidi Kurds was vandalized, its monuments distorted, and its contents were deliberately tampered with, including the remains of the dead, after the end of the battless. The residents of those Yazidi villages in Ras al-Ain in 2012-2013 were previously exposed to brutal attacks launched by armed formations supported by Turkey. Likewise, attacks were launched on the Assyrian residents in the villages of Khabur by the Islamic State in Syria & Iraq (ISIS) during its occupation of the region in February 2015, before it was defeated by the People’s Protection Units and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The Ancient Syrians and Armenian residents also fled the city of Ras al-Ain and did not return to it after the Turkish invasion. Their properties were looted, and their symbols and images in the city were torn apart after its occupation.
Immediately after the start of the military campaign on the region, the Assyrian residents of the 34 villages of the Khabur Basin and the Tal Tamer countryside, were displaced from their villages towards the town of Tal Tamr, under the control of Self-Administration in north-east Syria. They are still unable to return to it due to the major risks that threatened and still threatening their lives. In addition to that, the Turkish army continues bombing the area, which it hasn’t been able to fully occupy.
Second – What the Committee Neglected or Ignored:
– Afrin’s Forced Deportees:
Regrettably, the committee did not pay attention in its report to the suffering and conditions of the forced deportees of Afrin who reside in “the areas of al-Shahba and the cities of Nubl, Zahraa, Tal Rafat, Dirjamal and some villages and towns of Jabal Lilun” – north of Aleppo, which are under the control of The Syrian government forces and within the Russian influence. They live a difficult life, as their number is about / 85 / thousand, of whom / 9 / thousand live in five miserable camps. They suffer from poor job opportunities and services such as electricity, drinking water, health, education, etc., and they are not covered by the United Nations relief and humanitarian programs; they are trapped on the four sides between the Syrian government forces on the one hand, the Turkish forces and the pro-Syrian National Army militias on the other hand. The latter have committed a crime of war of collective punishment imposed on them by preventing them from moving to any other Syrian region or returning to their homes.
On the other hand, the aforementioned areas were not under the committee’s investigation or survey. As a part of the hostilities, the committee neglected to mention many cases of bombing carried out by the Turkish army forces and the militias loyal to them in the areas of Izzaz and Afrin. As a result of the bombing, heavy financial damages were inflicted to housing and public facilities and caused casualties among the civilian. That is against the call of Secretary-General Antonio Gutierrez and the appeal of UN Envoy Geir Pedersen for a nationwide ceasefire in order to confront the Corona pandemic. Among those cases:
– On January 29, 2020, the town of “Tal Rifaat” was bombed. As a result, the child Nader Ahmed Ahmed / 7 / was killed, and the child Muhammad Amin Ahmad Haj Issa / 8 / years old from the town was injured. On December 2, 2019 the town was bombarded and led to a massacre in which / 10 / civilians were killed, including / 8 / children and / 12 / wounded.
– At the dawn of February 3, 2020, the village of Aqabeh – Jebel Liloun was bombed, whereby Ali Shaban Manla / 68 / was killed and his daughter and others were injured, in addition to financial damage to homes.
– On the evening of Monday, February 24, 2020, the village of Kalouta – Jabal Liloun was bombed, killing the citizen Ammouna Mansour Omar aged 40, and seriously wounding citizen Khalil Bakr Omar, in addition to financial damages to homes.
– On Tuesday evening, February 25, 2020, a house was bombed in the village of Aqoobeh – Jabal Liloun. The house was demolished and let to injuring of three displaced civilians from the same family: Ismat Hamo, Mufida Ramzi Hasan and the child Jamil Hamo, and the death of a couple with their daughter under the debris. They are: Hasan Haj Izzet Mohammad aged 55 years, Fatima Ahmad Ali aged 46 years and Sirosht Hasan Moahmmad aged 12 years.
The Forced Deportees of Ras Al-Ain and Tal Abyad:
After the Turkish aggression on Ras Al-Ain and Tal Abyad on October 9,2019,with heavy bombing, ground and air attacks most of the inhabitants of in the two towns were forcibly displaced, including Kurds, Arabs, Ancient Syrians, Armenians and Chechens. There are still about / 150 / thousand residents of Ras al-Ain are scattered between the villages and cities of Jazira and “Barda Rush” camp – Iraqi Kurdistan, and a large portion of them live in about / 62 / in “schools or educational centers” in Hasakah and in the camps of “Washokani – Tuwinah village, north of Hasakah. They miss a lot of life basics, and not included in the United Nations relief and humanitarian programs. They are unable to return to their homes, given the risks of questionings, investigations, beatings, torture and imprisonment in many cases, and even some of the detained returnees are deported to Turkey for investigation and punishment. Some elderly people who have returned to their homes are subjected sometimes to various kinds of insults and torture to force them to leave. Likewise, tens of thousands of residents of the city of Tal Abyad and its occupied villages have been forcibly displaced under the fierce Turkish attacks, and their homes and properties have been looted. They are now dispersed in the countryside of Kobani, Raqqa and Jazira, and most of them are unable to return to their homes due to the dangers they may face under the rule of militias and the Turkish army, and suffer severely from life’s difficulties.
– Severe Damage to the Environment and Vegetation:
While building the concrete separation wall and even before the invasion of Afrin, the Turkish authorities had bulldozed large agricultural and forest areas, with the depth of / 200-500 / meters adjacent to the border strip. The military vehicles during the aggression uprooted thousands of olive trees in many locations, such as Jabal Bilal, Jarqa, Darwish village, Hia village-annexed to Rajo sub-district, in the villages of Hammam, Marwaniya Fawqani, Tahtani, Anqla, and Ashkan Gharbi – Jenderes district, Qarmatlaq and Jqali – Shia district, and between the villages of Kfarjana and Mina – Sharran sub-district and in Mount Sherwa, with the intention of establishing military bases. The fires and illegal cutting – never seen before in the region – affected forests in the mountains of Sarsin, Kemarsh, Hawar, Jarqa and Bilal – Rajo, Ramadan, Wadi Jahanam, Tatra, Rota, Hajj Hasan, Qazili site, Sheikh Muhammad, Jawlaka – Jenderes, Midanki, Mahmudiyah – Afrin, Kafargana, Rajo, Qasim Square, Akbis And Sheikh, Bilal, Qara Baba and others. The space of the cut forest reached more than 13 thousand hectares out of 32 thousand hectares of natural and planted forest in the Afrin region. On the other hand, hundreds of thousands of olive trees and forests and perennial trees have been cut down by militants and recruiters, with the aim of logging and making charcoal. The assault on the environment, forests, fruitful and non-fruitful trees is still going on a large scale. The committee can discover these damages by comparing modern satellite images with pictures previous ones before the occupation.
One of the pillars of the hostile policy pursued by the Turkish occupation and its mercenaries is striking the relationship of the Kurdish man in Afrin with his natural environment and his properties; thus destabilizing and weakening the roots of society.
– Cut Water from “Allok Station” and the Euphrates River:
True there’s a shortage of drinking water in Syria as a whole, as the committee referred in its report to food insecurity, but the shut-down of Allok station in the Ras al-Ain area, which is the main source of water for Hasaka city and its countryside, for several times, especially in the summer, is a war crime and a crime against humanity as it supplies nearly one million people, including about / 100 / thousand displaced people living in shelters and camps. It is surprising that the Independent Commission ignored this sensitive issue that has serious repercussions on the lives of citizens at a time when the Corona pandemic is spreading, especially as it has a political background and the result of an armed aggression against the region, and not due to a natural disaster. The station was targeted by bombing in the early hours of the Turkish invasion on 10/9/2019, so it went out of service at the time, despite the fact that the Self-Administration provides the station with the electrical power and staff are pro-Syrian Government Water Foundation with others from the Self- Administration who operate and maintain the station if allowed by the Turkish occupation authorities and their militias. However, all local and international appeals and those launched by international and civil organizations fell on deaf ears. They persistently and deliberately want to harm and blackmail Self-Administration areas and their inhabitants. Despite concluding serval agreements with the mediating Russian party between Turkey on the one hand and the Self- Administration and the Syrian government on the other hand, the Russian side announced that Turkey was not committed to what was agreed upon regarding water and electricity crisis in the region. On April 2, 2020, the forces of the “National Syrian Army” bombed in collaboration with the Turkish forces bombed the village of Umm al-Kif – 3 km north of Tal Tamr, which led to the explosion of the main water pipe leading from Allok station to the Himeh water complex – west of Hasaka city. The militias steal electricity from the power line feeding the station, thus reducing its capacity (operating a limited number out of 12 pumps), and also steal water from the main pipe going to Hasakah in order to irrigate thousands of hectares of land that they plant for their own benefit.
On the other hand, starting from April 2020, the flow of the Euphrates River began to decrease to an unprecedented level, less than quarter of Syria’s share of 500 m3/second according to the last agreement between the two countries, due to Turkey’s closure of water portals in its territory which affected crops on both sides of its bank, decrease in the level of electrical power in the Syrian dams and decline of fish stocks as well as damaging the ecosystem. According to the international law, no country may completely control the flow of an international river without the consent of other countries through which the river passes.
It is clear that Turkey is using water as a weapon against Syrian civilians and the Self-Administration in north-east Syria, and it wants to use water as a pressure factor to pit the local population in the east of the Euphrates against the Syrian Democratic Forces, instead of neutralizing water file in political and armed conflicts, as it is a humanitarian file related to the civilians in the first place. We expect the international investigation committee to send delegates and open an impartial investigation into the water and electricity crisis in the region.
– Chaos and Lawlessness:
Since its invasion, the areas of Afrin, Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad have transformed from relatively safe areas, witnessing natural development in all aspects of public life, and housing displaced people from different Syrian regions, with a Self-Administration and local armed forces for self-defense , to areas that are absolutely insecure, dominated by chaos, insecurity and tension with various types of violations, crimes and spreading of hatred which Ankara had planned for in a systematic way, as it gave rein to the terrorist militias to wreak corruption in their lands. The same militias fight among themselves a lot over the background of disputes over thefts and the scope of influence, endangering the lives of civilians in cities and rural areas and spreading terror among them. Those militias do not strive to maintain security and safety and prevent explosions from occurring inside.
The motorcycle and car bombings that took place among civilians in Afrin, Ras al-Ain, and Tal Abyad bear the hallmarks of extremist terrorist organizations, and no Kurdish party adopted it, while there are operations targeting military personnel and headquarters of the Turkish army and its militias in Afrin that are adopted by the Afrin Liberation Forces. In light of the state of chaos and sustainable chaos in the aforementioned areas, Turkish occupying authorities accuse the People’s Protection Units YPG of standing behind those bombings without providing a single physical evidence or transparently announcing the causes and perpetrators of one of those bombings.
– Siege and Media Blackout:
Since their occupation, the Turkish forces have imposed an effective siege on the regions of Afrin, Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad, and on the movement of indigenous people inside and outside them, and at the same time restricting the movement of goods, agricultural and industrial products and foodstuffs; preventing the forcibly displaced from returning to their homes, through procedures and practices that may only be apparent only by those who live with the situation.
The Turkish authorities also impose a media blackout by closing those areas to the media, truth commissions, delegations of human rights organizations and civil rights organizations, and parliamentary delegations that do not favor Ankara and its militias.
The closure of the crossings in those areas with the Syrian inland by whatever party, without convincing reasons and limited time measures, even under the pretext of the Coronavirus, is a war crime and collective punishment against the people of those areas, because it leads to the separation of the local communities and the deterioration of relations and benefits of production and trade and economy between the various regions.
The areas of Afrin, Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad – northern Syria were never a threat to its surroundings or to the Turkish national security – as Ankara claims without realistic evidence, as the Turkish borders with it were safe, and there was no attack from them against Turkish territory nor was there an imminent threat. On the contrary, these Syrian regions enjoyed relative safety and stability. Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG), Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) ,defending the borders over the past years, have pushed back numerous and repeated attacks by “ISIS and Al-Nusra” militias and similar armed terrorist groups that worked under the name of the “Free Syrian Army. The abovementioned forces (YPG), YPJ and SDF were and still are part of the international coalition against terrorism. Therefore, the Turkish army invasion by land and air attacks, with the latest and various types of weapons, accompanied by tens of thousands of militia members of the “Syrian National Army” on Afrin on January 20, 2018 and on Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad on October 9, 2019 AD, is a blatant violation of Article 51 of the United Nations Charter; it is an aggression on the territory of another country, which is considered a crime according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The invasion has become a permanent occupation under the 1907 Hague Convention and all the standards of international laws related to it, and also according to facts and practices on the ground.
– Syrian Mercenaries:
The International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing, and Training of Mercenaries, adopted by the United Nations on December 4, 1989 AD, defines a mercenary is any person who:
(a) Is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict;
(b) Is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain;
(c) Is neither a national of a party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a party to the conflict;
(d) Is not a member of the armed forces of a party to the conflict; and
(e) Has not been sent by a State which is not a party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces).
This definition fully applies to members of the Syrian National Army militia who were used by Turkey in its conflict with the Kurds in their regions: “Afrin, Ras al-Ain, Tal Abyad” – northern Syria. They were not in conflict with the Kurds to the point of launching against them an all-out war, which Turkey fabricated against the background of its historical denial of the existence, role and rights of the Kurds. They were also used by Turkey in its dispute with a party on the territories Libya, far from Syria, in exchange for personal spoils for them (salaries and benefits, promises to obtain Turkish citizenship, spoils: robberies, looting, seizure of homes and properties …), in a clear violation of “ the principles of international law such as equality in sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity of states and the right of peoples to self-determination” according to the abovementioned convention, which also affirms that“ the recruitment, use, financing and training of mercenaries should be considered as offences of grave concern to all States and that any person committing any of these-offences should be either prosecuted or extradited, “. Thus, Ankara, the “Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition forces”, the “Syrian Interim Government” and the leaders and members of the “Syrian National Army” are committing a double crime against the Kurds and indigenous people in northern Syria on the one hand and against the Libyan people on the other hand, in addition to violating international law.
On the other hand, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed at least three times that the Turkish state apparatus overtly transfer armed men from the “Syrian National Army” militia, whose number reached more than 15 thousand militants, from the Syrian territories through Turkish airports and ports to Libya, and their use in the internal Libyan armed conflict, is smoking gun proof of the full Turkish control over these armed groups and that their elements are working as mercenaries under the command of Ankara government. Therefore, the Turkish state bears direct responsibility for their violations and crimes in Syria and abroad.
Third – Turkish Presence and Responsibility:
Turkey is a major active country in the conflict inside and over Syria, and it has been a major party in the Astana agreements and talks, and its army dominates areas in northern Syria, which it called “Euphrates Shield, Olive Branch, Spring of Peace” after launching three military operations in 2016, 2018 and 2019. Under these media names, with media mobilization, justifications and military planning at the highest levels in accordance with the requirements of modern warfare, on land and in the air, the militias of the Free Syrian Army or the Syrian National Army participating with the Turkish army were nothing but mercenary groups moving under the orders of Turkish officers and officials who held the meetings with its leaders and gave them instructions.
The Turkish effective control over Afrin, Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad regions is a full-fledged occupation after it has been officially declared by the Turkish army, due to the absence of the conditions of Article 51 of the United Nations’ Charter, and the rejection of the Syrian Government, the Self-Administration and thereof societies and political forces. As long as those areas are under the actual authority of another country (Turkey) – administratively and militarily, according to all the data and facts, they are considered occupied Syrian land according to Article 42 of the Hague Convention 1907 AD, where Ankara exercises sovereign activities and powers over those areas, starting from raising the Turkish flag on all of military and security headquarters, administrative and educational institutions, public places, and on the minarets of some mosques, in addition to linking the social, religious, health, economic, agricultural, educational, communications, electricity, post and services with Turkish institutions and departments, in addition to imposing dealing in Turkish lira in them.
The presence of thousands of Turkish military officers and soldiers with various weapons and air coverage, dozens of military headquarters, fortified military bases, in addition to Turkey’s control of the militias of the “Syrian National Army” and its payment of the salaries of their members who put the Turkish flag on their military clothing, as well as its administration of those areas through councils and committees under the command of the adjacent provinces’ governors, opening border points with those areas and paying the salaries of all employees, in addition to the large intelligence deployment and insistence on raising the Turkish flag inside the occupied Syrian territories with the presence of the “Religious Affairs” institution affiliated to the Presidency of the Turkish Republic and Turkish educational and cultural institutions are sufficient and definitive evidence to say that Turkey bears full moral, political and legal responsibility for the conditions prevailing in those areas.
Based on the facts that we have mentioned, it must be asserted that the effective control over Afrin, Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad is for Turkey – as an occupying power – which is trying to evade its responsibilities and that is able to curb the militias and improve the terrible conditions prevailing in those areas if it wants. However, it is practicing systematic hostile policies against those areas and their people, as its responsibility precedes the responsibility of the “Syrian National Army” militias and the “political and executive” entities that it adopts (the Syrian Interim Government and the National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces), which receives direct financial, logistical, military and political support from Ankara.
Fourth – Other Remarks:
– The violations and crimes committed in Afrin, Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad are not individual practices. Rather, they are systematic and take place on a large scale, under the direction and supervision of Turkish intelligence. Therefore, it is wrong to say that “individuals, members or fighters of the Syrian National Army” have done this or that. These militias do them and bear their responsibility, as forces that have a hierarchical structure and an executive and political cover supported by Turkey.
– The “ Syrian National Army” is linked to the “Syrian Interim Government” of the “Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces”. It is a mistake not to mention the names of the last two organizations, since they – even if they are opposing the Syrian regime – also bear responsibility as individuals, officials, institutions and bodies for the prevailing conditions in Afrin, Ras al-Ain, and Tal Abyad.
– Most of the perpetrators of violations and crimes in Afrin and Ras al – Ain and Tel white with impunity, and there is no security mechanism and impartial judicial investigation with them and hold them accountable, and even that most of the victims or their families do not dare to lodge complaints or litigation and follow up their cases, but forced often to hide the facts And forcibly giving up their rights or reconciliation in the best of circumstances.
– The attack on cultural property in Afrin is much more comprehensive and greater than what was mentioned in the report. It is carried out on a large scale, as armed militias continue to excavate and bulldoze dozens of archaeological sites and hills, including (Barad, Tilal Burj Abdalo, Qibar, Jenderes, Zarafkeh, Gamrouk, Dromiya) , with bulldozers and heavy engineering machinery, and in broad daylight. There have also been numerous reports of the bulldozing of (Hammam al-Turkman, Sahilan, Aswad, and Jattal) hills in the Balikh Basin – north of Raqqa, which is under the control of the Turkish occupation, by the militants, in order to steal their antiquities and buried treasures. As in Afrin, there are fears that about 60 archaeological sites between the Khabur and Al-Balikh rivers to suffer from tampering, vandalism and theft. It is worth saying that the abovementioned hills had been excavated before 2011 by international archaeological missions and considered them a human heritage.
The mercenaries, by proxy for the Turkish occupation forces, are systematically sabotaging and destroying archaeological sites and looting the antiquities in them, to obliterate their Syrian civilization identity and the cultural heritage of their components. There is no doubt that Turkey is the only passageway for transporting and selling the antiquities and treasures that are stolen from those sites.
The independent commission can clearly see the bulldozing of hills and digging of archaeological sites and their vandalism by comparing satellite images before and after the Turkish occupation.
We have noticed in the report an omission by the Independent Commission in clearly holding the Turkish state responsible for the crimes and violations that have been presented, despite the fact that the report contains strong indications on the presence of the Turkish army and intelligence in the region, including during the detention and torture of detainees. Mr. Hani Majali, a member of the Committee, was unsuccessful in the press conference devoted to presenting the report on 15/09/2020, when he said: “We cannot say that Turkey is responsible for them and that it gives orders and controls them, but we believe that it can use its influence more to control them, and certainly pressure them to stop the violations that are being committed and to investigate them.“ Right afterwards he said:“ Turkey has influence, as it financed, trained and allowed an armed force known as the Syrian National Army to enter Syria from Turkey. ” We believe that this statement is ambivalent and expresses the confusion that affects the work of the committee. On the one hand it refers to Turkey’s standing behind these criminal groups in financing, arming and training, and introducing them from Turkish lands to Syrian territory, on the other hand it clears Turkey at the same time, and also deviates from the contents of the report submitted by his own commission, which includes strong indications towards holding Turkey responsible, even if they are not clear and transparent.
We do appeal to your living consciences to make the utmost efforts to redress the persecuted and remove the dangers on the Kurds and Syrians in general. We call upon you to put pressure on the Turkish government, as an occupying power over Syrian lands and does not gain sovereignty over them and it is only a temporary situation, to adhere to international humanitarian law and other international covenants and charters that protect human and peoples’ rights. Therefore, Turkey has to carry out its obligations:
– Take measures to restore and ensure public order and safety.
– Using all the available means to ensure adequate hygiene and public health standards, in addition to the supply of food and medical care for the population under its occupation.
– Ban collective or individual transfer of the population of the occupied territory.
– Ban the transfer of the civilians pro-occupying power to the occupied territory, regardless of whether this transfer was forced or voluntary.
– Prohibition of collective punishment.
– Prohibition of taking hostages.
– Prohibition of reprisals measures against protected persons and their property.
– Prohibition of confiscation of private property.
– Prohibition of seizure or property destruction.
– Ban of destroying cultural properties.
– The accused people of a criminal act should have access to procedures that respect internationally recognized judicial guarantees (for example, they must be notified of the reason for their detention, specific charges be brought against them, and be given a fair trial as soon as possible).
If the Kurds and Syrians in general have the right to defend their areas and liberate them from the occupier as long as the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1514 of December 14 1960, Article / 1 / states: “Subjecting peoples to the subjugation, domination and exploitation of the foreigner constitutes a denial of basic human rights, and contradicts the Charter of the United Nations, and impedes the cause of global peace and cooperation”, they look forward to your support, and to the Independent Commission to make more efforts in monitoring the situation, uncovering violations and crimes, and define responsibilities and duties accurately and transparently. That necessitates calling upon the government of Ankara to reply various questions and questions about the situation in Afrin, Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad, and send a fact-finding mission that studies media and human rights reports, testimonies and documents submitted by many parties on it.
In its report, the committee must direct special recommendations to Turkey regarding its areas of control, and urge the international community, including United Nations bodies and institutions, to ask the Turkish government soon to work on:
Assume its responsibilities and duties as the owner of effective control over the military, administrative, executive and judicial situations in general.
Put an end to various violations and crimes, and control the behavior of armed groups loyal to it.
Prosecute and hold perpetrators of violations and crimes accountable, ensure that they are not impunity, in light of chaos and insecurity.
Put an end to kidnappings, abductions, blackmailing, torture, arbitrary arrests, and arbitrary deprivation of liberty, which occur systematically for political, racial, material and security reasons, uncover secret prisons and the release forcibly disappeared persons outside the framework of the law.
Take appropriate steps to protect civilians, create conditions conducive to the safe and voluntary return of the forcibly displaced to their areas of origin, and rehabilitate the affected areas, in accordance with international law.
Take the necessary measures to protect environment, forests, trees, cultural properties, private and public properties, and stop the destruction and stealing of historical archaeological sites.
Allow unconditional access to the area for independent monitors and humanitarian organizations, especially to prisons, detention and detention centers.
Allow media and delegations of interested civil and human rights institutions and organizations, and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement staff to carry out their activities.
Allow the Kurds and Yazidis, especially the Kurds, to use their mother tongue, and to freely practice their national and religious rites.
Improve public services, rehabilitate basic infrastructure, and cease systematic demographic change measures.
Abolish the royalties imposed on transportation, agricultural crops, industrial production, trade and natural resources.
Lift the siege on occupied areas and open safe crossings and humanitarian corridors, to make room for individuals’ freedom of movement and for the movement of cargo freight, as it is safeguarded and preserved in international covenants and charters and in the constitutions of most countries of the world.
Neutralization the file of drinking water and the Euphrates water from political conflicts and armed conflicts, so that the Al-Alouk-Ras Al-Ain plant will be operated in the optimum condition, and that Syria gets its full agreed share from the Euphrates..
We also call on the United Nations and, accordingly, the UN Security Council, to deal with the issues of Afrin and Sri Kaniye / Ras al-Ain and Girê Sp / / Tal Abyad as part of their agenda, and to exert pressure on Turkey to abide by international humanitarian law as the occupying power of those areas, and to stop threatening other areas, considering that The Kurds were and still are the upper hand in fighting terrorism and the takfirist “ISIS” organization. This is in parallel to endeavor to end the Turkish occupation of several areas of Syria, and return them to Syrian sovereignty, in order to serve the efforts and endeavors to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis in accordance with the unanimous UN Security Council Resolution / 2254/.
We also call upon the international, impartial and independent mechanism to assist in the investigation and prosecution – of Syria, to work on extracting, collecting evidence, information and documents and preserving them. Preparing files for conducting honest and independent criminal procedures against the accused, in national, regional or international courts or judicial bodies that may convene for them in the future in accordance with international law, since no statute of limitations applies to war crimes and crimes against humanity in accordance with the Convention on the Non-Prescription of Those Crimes, which was adopted by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2391 A (XXIII) of November 26, 1968.
We are in the Kurdish Democratic Unity Party in Syria, while we express our sincere thanks to United Nations bodies, institutions and organizations and staff for the efforts they exert in serving human and peoples’ issues and human issues in general, we also express our readiness to cooperate with them in monitoring the facts and revealing the facts as possible.
The “United Nations” remains the hope of the oppressed in defending them, relieving their suffering and salvation from injustice and tyranny, and in the pursuit of peace and an end to raging crises.
Syria – Qamishli October 3, 2020
The Kurdish Democratic Unity Party in Syria (Yekiti)