Statement of our position concerning Brussels conference on Syria

Brussels conference should deal with the issues of the Syrian-Kurds as an integral part of the Syrian issue.

The “Brussels Conference” will be held on April 24 and 25 on Syria, entitled “Supporting the future of Syria and the region”. The conference, which was based on online consultations and field meetings in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan with Syrian and international NGOs operating in these countries, focuses on:

  • The four sessions will focus on: (1) protection, (2) access and delivery of assistance, (3) education and youth, both inside Syria and host countries, (4) inclusive economic and social development, in host countries only.
  • Accountability and justice for crimes and human rights violations committed in Syria

Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights-Birati” welcomes and supports the efforts of the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United Nations to provide all possible means to support the Syrians in the face of the challenges and disasters that have afflicted their country and have affected the reality of the neighbouring countries. As it regrets the policy of dealing with the areas of the presence of Kurds in Syria and the Syrian refugees in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and the war crimes against the Kurdish component and not to include these issues on the tables of interest of the Conference, which we had previously sent to some countries of the European Union and the Office of Syria in the European Union Which focuses on:

  • The Situation of Syrian Refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan

Approximately 350,000 Syrian refugees live in nine camps in Erbil, Duhok, and  Sulaymaniyah in addition to estimated 100,000 displaced people living in the cities of Kurdistan Region Government (KRG) who fled Syria following the popular protests in Syria and the invasion of terrorist group, ISIS, of northern Syria.

Those refugees live under very harsh conditions that imposed an isolation on the Kurds, their connection to Syria as a diverse state is becoming unclear. This imposes a two fold problem:

1-The problem of belonging to Syria and the consolidation of equal citizenship and diversity.

2-Another problem that is mainly related to humanitarian assistance and job creation, since the international community has left these refugees under the custody of KRG that only provides them with very simple services, which leave these refugees susceptible to all form of exploitation and suffer from poverty and deprivation, many children have no access to proper education, and women remained captive of the asylum tent and mainly with no education

  • Areas of control of the Syrian Democratic Forces SDF:

The attacks launched by the Islamic State group, and the political strife and the Kurdish-Kurdish conflicts have imposed a huge congestion between the components of the region and in conjunction with the results of the process of olive branch launched by Turkey and the Syrian opposition on the Kurdish region of Afrin poses today a serious problem that requires more treatment than ever before due to the high level of hatred speech Between the Arab and Kurdish components and the stalemate of the Kurdish-Kurdish and Kurdish-Arab relations in the wake of these results.

“Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights-Birati” sees the division of this region on the basis of the issues being dealt with in into:

1- The recovery of the conflict societies in the control areas of the Syrian Democratic Forces, which were liberated from “ISIS” in provinces of Al-Raqqa, Deir-ezZor and the southern countryside of the province of Hasakah.

Islamic State’s long-term control of these areas has had a major impact on its social structure, while it targeted the young people, in particular, is to promote its radical teachings, especially through “Sharea’a” education of these groups, by imposing their extremist ideology on adolescents and direct them to extremism. Where our organization had already documented ISIS imposing their extremist ideologies, according to the documents and information we have obtained.

Societies liberated from ISIS control have not been able to enjoy safe an stable life. This is due to several reasons such as unilateral control of some militia that are not satisfactory and are not acceptable by the international community, or due to  the nature of the civil administration in those areas in terms of lack of capacities that are needed in such dangerous areas.

This raises the importance of international NGOs with knowledge of the complex nature and details of these communities. These NGOs should be neutral in their performance and have no political association with local authorities which will make them immune to the corruption that is prevalent in the emerging local authorities.

“Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights-Birati” hopes that the conference will focus on providing all support and care to these communities through the Syrian civil society organizations working in the region to set up recovery centers for young people and the needs to provide ways to deal with the serious effects on the situation of women in the region and to provide them with awareness opportunities and to obtain their rights from sexual exploitation Which the ISIS had previously committed in the region.

2- Afrin area under the control of the Turkish army and the Syrian opposition militias:

Turkey launched an unprovoked military attack on the Kurdish region of Afrin under the pretext of fighting “Kurdistan Workers Party” the PKK and maintaining its national security. This process resulted in the displacement of at least 250,000 Kurdish citizens from their homes, many of whom were arrested by the Syrian regime through the checkpoints separating Afrin from the Syrian regime control areas as some of them were taken to join the fighting fronts.

Following the control of the Turkish army and the Syrian Islamic militias of Afrin, until now they don’t allow Kurdish civilians to return to their towns and homes, as there are terrifying reports of the settlement of al-Ghouta’s IDPs in the houses of many locals of Afrin area, in what is considered to be one of the worst operations of demographic change Syria has witnessed.

As “Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights-Birati” condemns the military operations launched by the Syrian regime against the people of al-Ghouta. At the same time, it also condemns the operation of demographic change supervised by Turkey, Russia and the Syrian regime in Afrin according to the agreements which facilitated the transfer of al-Ghouta IDPs to Afrin’s district of Jinderis in particular.

As it also calls on the conference to deal seriously with the displaced Kurdish civilians from Afrin region and the harsh conditions they’re countering in the area of Tal-Rifaat where about 70 thousand civilians, and about 100 thousand civilians in the areas controlled by the Syrian regime in the towns of Nubl and al-Zahraa and the city of Aleppo.

We demand the conference to make pressure on Turkey and the opposition to allow Kurdish civilians to return safely to their homes and towns in Afrin and to provide all forms of support to them.

“Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights-Birati” is deeply concerned about the arrests and detentions by the Syrian opposition militias and the Turkish army against the Kurdish civilians of Afrin on fake basis of relations to the PKK, detainees including activists and aid workers who are mainly opposed to the PKK, as in the case of activist “Dlshan Qara-Gul“, who was detained by the Turkish army since 31 March 2018 in a military investigation center in the Syrian city of Azaz.

As there were some Syrian organizations who have called on the international community in an earlier statement to investigate the violations committed following the operation of “Olive Branch”, and here confirms “Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights-Birati” for the need for the conference to send an investigating mission to investigate the facts and violations.

3-Autonomous Administration of Northern Syria:

Despite to the ability of democratic self-management ” Autonomous Administration of Northern Syria”  to provide security, peace and its constant repulsive attacks of ISIS on the region.

However, it has not been able to maintain the pace of public freedoms. The region has recently suffered a serious deterioration of the human rights situation, especially in relation to freedom of peaceful assembly, the liberty of association and parties, and the complete absence of local laws that taking into account the democratic transition situation and total absence of the judiciary independence, which is controlled by a one-color political movement by arms.

Then a political arrests have spread against the opponents of self-management to the pretexts of terrorism, treason and other charges of implementing political agendas which are not compatibled with the reality of public freedoms and human rights as in the case of the arrest of the leader Faisal Youssef and M.Nemat Daoud leading members of the Kurdish National Council, a member of the National Coalition for the revolution forces  and Syrian opposition.

“Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights-Birati” hopes that the conference, especially France and United Kingdom, together with the United States, to put pressure on their local allies the Tev-dem and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units YPG to stop violations of civil and political freedoms in the region to free freedom of the public and allow the civil and legal rights NGOs to work without harassment.

  • On the accountability and justice side:

“Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights-Birati” considers accountability and justice as the basic criterion for peace in Syria. There is no peace in Syria without justice. Transitional justice will not be properly and healthfully implemented without accountability for war crimes and serious human rights violations by all parties of the conflict.

Here, “Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights-Birati”clarifies:

  • The crimes of the Syrian regime against the Syrians are the most prominent point in the process of accountability in Syria.
  • The crimes committed by the Syrian opposition and its military militias cannot be tolerated and in the absence of accountability there will be no balance in the process of accountability of the Syrian regime, those crimes and violations include:

-The bombardment and heavy shelling of the Syrian opposition militias on the residents of “Sheikh-Maksoud” neighbourhood in Aleppo with prohibited weapons between February 15 and September 4, 2016, which left at least 850 civilians dead and wounded, including 266 children and 214 women.

– The issue of the destruction of the Syrian heritage and the antiquities trading committed by all parties to the conflict since 2011 and until now.

– The mass graves in Manbaj in August and September 2015, which left 53 civilians dead, including two women, and in Raqqa between 2014 and 2016, numbers estimated of about 4,000 victims, the issue should be dealt with as soon as possible to avoid destruction of evidences and the loss of opportunities for victims in the absence of mechanisms to conduct investigations into this important issue.

– The international community should conduct serious investigations on the crimes of sexual slavery of Yazidi women in the areas of Raqqa, Deir al-Zour and the areas controlled by the Syrian opposition and bring those implicated into justice.

– The severe violations committed by the olive branch during and after the operation against the civilians of Afrin cannot be tolerated.

In conclusion:

“Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights-Birati” understands the priority of the crimes of the Syrian regime and the extent of its brutality and provides all forms of cooperation and coordination with the Syrian and international organizations to achieve justice for the victims of these crimes.

“Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights-Birati” also understands the concerns of European countries about the pressures exerted by Turkey through the constant threats of the opening of its borders for Syrian refugees towards European Union, and the increase of the burden of Europe following the crisis of the Syrian refugees in 2015, but it appeals to the countries of the European Union to look at Syrian-Kurds and in particular to what is happening to civilians of Afrin, and their sufferings of losing their city and towns and their history as well, and to provide all forms of support to ensure a safe return for them.

“Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights-Birati” hopes all the best for Brussels Conference and salutes the efforts of all the countries and international organizations participating in it and hopes that this agreement will be heard in order to avoid discrimination and division of Syria, in which it is divided by international and regional conventions.

Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights-Birati

22 April 2018

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The issues of the Syrian-Kurds are an integral part of the Syrian issue.