“Burning Roses in the Syrian Conflict”A documentary report on violence against women

To read the Full report, please click here Burning Roses in the Syrian Conflict

Due to the importance of our report “Burning Roses in the Syrian Conflict” and due to our commitment to document the course of the atrocities, intimidation and crimes against the women in Syria, and since the report has already been issued in a broken English depending on the limited capabilities of our foundation and lack of efficient staff, many experts and researchers who are friends of ours advised to improve the quality of our work in English. Therefore, we have re-worked on the report and thus present you a new well-edited version with the full statements and affidavits of the victims in addition to the details of the commission of those violations.

We hope you provide us with constant observations and comments regarding this reports and our coming reports. We would also like to thank our friends and readers who advised us to produce a well-edited version of the report.

The Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights (Birati/FFHR) issues the report “Burning Roses in the Syrian Conflict” on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which is celebrated on the 25th November each year. The report covers the period between early 2014 and November 2016 and addresses violence against women in Syrian territory, particularly in the areas of Manbaj, Hasaka, Kobani, Raqqa and the Turkish Nizib camp.

The rights of women and the fight against violence against them have been enhanced to a certain extent in the areas under the control of the Kurdish self-administration. The common administration of the province of Al-Jazeera of self-administration issued an act number 22 of the year 2014, and act 30 included an article titled (the basic principles and general provisions about women) these provisions were supportive of women’s rights and were compatible with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the most remarkable of which is affirming “Equality between men and women in all spheres of public and private life”, “Commitment to the principle of partnership in enterprise management”,  “Equality between the testimony of men and women before the law” and “condemning of murder under the pretext of honor as a crime full of material, moral and legal elements.” The “Burning of Roses in the Syrian Conflict” report examines violence against women by monitoring and documenting four specific violations of women’s rights in Syria, including:

  • ISIS Crimes against women
  • Crimes against women in refugee camps in neighboring countries: Nizib camp in Turkey.
  • Recruitment of minors
  • Domestic violence

The report focuses on serious violations against women, which are considered major crimes amounting to crimes against humanity committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, known as “Daash” and violations of the Kurdish Women’s Protection (YPJ), that is a parallel fraction of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) that goes within the framework of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) of the Self-ruled Government in the north and northeast of Syria.

These violations are crimes of sexual violence, domestic violence, recruitment of minors, sexual harassment, abduction and enforced disappearances, enslavement, rape and sexual exclusion, and trafficking in human beings. The Fraternity Foundation sees that Syrian women suffered disproportionately in the modern era by extremist (Takfiri) organizations, since they were stoned in the public squares. They were widely raped in captivity prisons. Women were sold in slavery and thrall markets and were systematically targeted in the Syrian conflict under many names, including financing the organizations, as ISIS did and what was used to attract fighters and rewarding them as with women as a war trophies.

The Syrian regime was not outside the scope of the systematic crime, and its prisons were full and its gangs and checkpoints did not leave a woman passing through without any kind of violence against woman, starting from harassment to kidnapping and raping. The level of violations by other parties of the conflict varied from the recruitment of minors, degradation of dignity and humiliation, and sexual exploitation in refugee camps in neighbouring countries.

The report notes the continuation of the unknown fate of the two activists, Razan Zeitouna and Samira Khalil, who have been absent since they were kidnapped in Duma on the morning of December 9, 2013 though the two activists resorted to the eastern Gauta and Duma as areas supposed to be safe for opponents of the regime.  However, it appears that being an anti-regime was not interceding with the armed opposition forces supposed to be (moderate). The activists’ work place was raided and they got absent since then.

Researchers at the Fraternity Foundation have encountered many difficulties and threats to their safety, despite being covert in their monitoring of victims’ cases and fearing that they will be repeatedly held accountable by the parties to the conflict who commit violations documented in this report.

In the preparation of the reports, Fraternity Foundation followed a methodology consistent with international reporting standards. In direct interviews with the victims, the Foundation researchers used special forms to record victims’ testimonies, as well as sworn testimonies as some of them were taped. The report was prepared by the Center of Research and Studies against Extremism and Terrorism at Fraternity  Foundation for Human Rights based on information and documentary investigations conducted by the organization’s “Monitoring and Documentation of Violations” program and “ Women enabling Center” on a field where  researchers, observers and reporters avoided relying on any indirect informational sources or Non-professional  ones, and through hundreds of documents to do with ISIS  obtained by the Foundation by its own means. Pseudonyms were used for victims to protect the sensitivity of the crimes committed, which, although occurring on victims, but  there is no community acceptance among citizens to provide support to them and there is a real fear of being subjected to double community violence resulting from local traditions and customs that still detract from women’s rights.

The Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights (FFHR) also relied on its database statistics to document the systematic violence committed by Syrian regime forces in the killing of women in Syria in 2016. The report does not address cases of victims of violence in Syrian regime prisons because they are not available in the reporting area or fear of victims to talk about them to the public opinion.

The report reviewed some internal photographs of Manbij prison showing the method of electric torture, through a plastic chair. The report also included a picture of the marriage contract being carried out by an advocacy organization in place of the marriage contract customary in Syria.

The reports dealt with documented testimonies of the victims of violations committed by ISIS, which is seen as the most vociferous extremist (Takfiri) organizations towards women because it depends on treating her in systems dating back to the stage of pre-war, in which captivity was a kind of grasp.

Hundreds of testimonies and researches on this subject indicate the use of women as a means to fund their organization, especially after the siege and war launched by the international coalition forces to fight the organization.

The number of women enslaved by the organization is estimated at more than 3,500 Yazidi women from Sinjar area in Iraq, including children at the age of nine years old and young women.

Slavery markets, as the organization calls them, are one of the most popular and prosperous trades for the organization uses these means to attract young fighters from all over the world and ranges (prices) between $ 200 to $ 3 thousand dollars. In a testimony of one of the Yazidi women, “I was exposed to sale more than ten times in a year and a few months, they moved me from one house to another after selling and purchasing me as a slave by ISIS. They forced me convert into Islam after someone put the knife on my baby’s neck and choosing between two options: the slaughter of the child or converting into Islam publically.

I gave up my religion in order to save my child,” she said.

Testimonies vary for victims in the Nizab refugee camp in Syria.

“I was living with 3 families in one tent so I decided to go to the manager in charge of the tents (KJ) to ask for a tent for me and for my children, the manager greeted me after he asked the translator to go out because he speaks Arabic well. He said he will give me a new tent and blankets for me and my children on condition of having a sexual affair out of the camp and he will buy me new clothes and a piece of gold,” a victim said.

On the recruitment of minors, one victim said, “In mid-December 2014, I and six of my girl friends were abducted from school by a group of (YPJ) fighters and took us to a training camp where we were subjected to violence daily throughout our stay there.”

To read all our report, please click here Birati/FFHR reports