Call for an urgent investigation on the offensive launched on Afrin city, Syria

On Saturday 20 January, 2018, the Turkish government, along with several Syrian armed opposition groups, including several jihadist groups according to media reports, launched on the Syria’s northwest region of Afrin an operation aiming at fighting the presence of Kurdish groups. The offensive, however, quickly brought along blatant violations to human rights, reported by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

The enclave was home to almost half a million civilians, including at least 150,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs). On 16 March 2018, the OHCHR highlighted the violence faced by civilians, trapped in the area and “being killed, injured, besieged, used as human shields or displaced as a result of the fighting.” As of 18th March, after almost two months of operation, the civilian casualties already amounted to 300 killed, including IDPs, according to local sources and Syrian NGOs, and hundreds injured.UNICEF estimates 100,000 people are still in Afrin, half of them being children and that 167,000 civilians were forced to leave. In addition, to the violence, hundreds of members of the opposition armed groups committed, for 3 whole days, a widespread operation of looting in the city of Afrin and surrounding areas.

TheUNaddressed the issue on Monday 22 January 2018 during a meeting and failed to condemn it, the European Uniondiplomatic chief Federica Mogherini expressed her concern about the operation, and Germany already acknowledged the unacceptable character of the offensive.

The signatories call on international and local NGOs, whose mandate commands to impartially investigate violations to international law, as well as the Commission of Inquiry and the International Independent Investigative Mechanism (IIIM) to investigate the abuses committed in Afrin in order to lay the foundations for accountability for perpetrators from all parties.

The signatories also call on states to participate in the fight against impunity and investigate these abuses on the ground of universal jurisdiction.

Finally, the signatories encourage victims and witnesses having informations on alleged violations to contact the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights at this email address [email protected] and the Commission of Inquiry on Syria at this email address [email protected]

Signatories:

    1. Adel Center for Human Rights
    2. Ashna Youth Organization for Relief and Development
    3. Ashti Organization For peace
    4. Common Ground Organization
    5. DAN Association for relief and development
    6. Dawlaty Foundation
    7. DOZ Organization
    8. Equal Citizenship Center
    9. Fraternity center for democracy and civil society
    10. Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights
    11. GAV for Relief and Development
    12. Initiative for new Syria
    13. Komela Welat ya xêrxwazi yê – Watan Charity Association
    14. XEWN ASSOCIATION
    15. Kurdish Committee for Human Rights- Observer
    16. My childhood center
    17. Navendabelsemyaçandatenduristî – Balsam center for health educate
    18. Nerin Association
    19. Peace She-Leaders Network
    20. PÊL- Civil Waves
    21. Perîq Eleme
    22. Rojava Organization for Relief and Development
    23. Sawa Foundation
    24. Shawishka Association for Women
    25. Silva Center for Civic Activities
    26. Students and Youth Union Kurdistani Democratic-west
    27. Syrian Center for Legal Researches and Studies
    28. Syrian Feminist Lobby
    29. Syrian League for Citizenship
    30. Syrian Scope
    31. Syrie MDL
    32. telal charity association
    33. Tulip Organization to Support Women and Kid -TSWK
    34. YASA e.V. – Kurdish Center for Studies & Legal Consultancy

    Note:This statement is supported by (8) civil society organisations whose names are not disclosed for security reasons.