By Syrian Democratic Times
A video that emerged of women found naked after being detained by a Turkish-backed militia in Afrin has brought new light to the brutality of the Turkish occupation of Afrin and other regions of North and East Syria. The video has spurred human rights groups, organizations, and concerned citizens across the world to demand an end to Turkish occupation of Afrin, which has been under a ruthless military occupation by Turkey and Turkish-backed militias since January 2018.
The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) issued a statement calling on the international community to launch an independent investigation of Turkish war crimes in Afrin.
Ilham Ahmed, President of the Executive Council of the Syrian Democratic Council, addressed displaced persons from Afrin last week, and emphasized the need to expose Turkish violations to public scrutiny. She discussed the violations against women and other human rights abuses committed both by Turkey and by Turkish-backed militias. Ahmed stressed that the solution to the Syrian crisis must include the “liberation of all occupied lands.”
Hundreds of human rights groups have condemned Turkey for its abuses, echoing calls for the end of Turkish occupation and an internationally-supported investigation into Turkish violations. An open letter by the KNK Women’s Commission, representing a broad coalition of women’s organizations from all major Kurdish regions and communities, called for international bodies to stop Turkish abuses, and issue new sanctions against Turkey.
“While the Turkish state is implementing genocidal policies against the Kurdish people, it exhaustively uses feminicide as a means of war against Kurdish women both because of their ethnic identity and women’s identity,” reads the KNK Women’s Commission letter. “As Kurdish women, we consider these attacks as an attack on each and every one of us. Unless the expansionist policy of the Turkish state led by Erdogan is stopped and this invasion continues to not be defined as an occupation by the UN, the Turkish state… will continue to be a threat to the lives of all Middle Eastern women.”
TEV-DEM, an umbrella organization for Kurdish parties in Syria, said the abuse of the women represented “an insult to women all over the world.”
As early as August 2018, widespread human rights abuses in Afrin were being documented by international organizations such as Amnesty International. Amidst ongoing attacks and occupation by Turkey, and war and destabilization in Syria, Afrin seems to have been forgotten in the chaos.
Calls for an international investigation have gone out, and human rights groups have once again condemned Turkey. But it remains to be seen whether the international community will continue to turn a blind eye to the Turkish occupation of North and East Syria.
“It is necessary to expose such policies to public opinion and not to forget Afrin, for forgetting means treachery,” said Ahmed.