Hope for Kurdish activists in Syria after UN report on Turkish abuses released

In the city of Afrin, Syria, on March 24, 2018.

For so long they had been crying in the desert. The Syrian Kurdish activists, human rights defenders or collectives of exiles from areas under Turkish occupation, had not stopped, since the first intervention of Ankara against the Kurdish region of Afrin, in February 2018, to try, with the means at hand, to document the nightmare into which they had fallen. They can begin to hope to be heard better. On Friday 18 September, Michelle Bachelet, United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights, denounced the “Serious violations” committed by the Proturc forces, calling on Ankara to put an end to them.

These statements follow the publication on Tuesday of the report of the UN commission of inquiry on Syria. The document, which precisely establishes the planned, and specifically targeted, nature against the Kurds of the atrocities committed by the Proturc Islamist militias with the support of Ankara in northern Syria, constitutes human rights for Kurdish activists. from Syria a relief. And maybe the beginning of the prospect of justice.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also UN report uncovers systematic abuses in Turkish-occupied Kurdish areas in Syria

“It’s a first victory”, wants to believe Bassam Al-Ahmad, director of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Syrian for Truth and Justice, based in Strasbourg. “Finding the cases of abuses that we had documented in isolation put forward with the pledge of neutrality of the United Nations will allow our work to be better recognized in the future”, said Mr. Al-Ahmad, whose organization assisted UN investigators.

In recent months, her NGO has documented the illegitimate appropriation of property confiscated from Kurdish residents in areas under Turkish occupation, the enforced disappearances of women and the illegal transfers of detainees without being able to attract the attention of the international community. The systematic aspect, as well as the responsibility of Turkey, are now established within an institution which is usually very cautious when it comes to drawing conclusions of this nature, which can prompt witnesses to break the silence.

“Tip of the iceberg”

“The report of the UN commission of inquiry goes in the right direction, but only reveals the tip of the iceberg”, procrastinated Hassan Hassan, of the Organization for Human Rights-Afrin, reached by telephone in the Tel Rifaat enclave, under joint control of Kurdish forces and the Syrian regime, to which hundreds of thousands of inhabitants of ‘Afrin. Mr. Hassan and his colleagues had been able to collect precise testimonies of sexual violence suffered in detention by Kurdish minors which could be verified and used by UN investigators. However, he believes that behind these individual cases there are many more crimes and victims.

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