Humanitarian and civil rights organizations based in Kurdistan and Europe have appealed to international society to break the silence and take action to save more than 400 women who have been kidnapped in Afrin.
Ten organizations – including the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Kurdish Legal Organization, the Research and Protection of Women’s Rights in Syria Centre and the Violations Documentation Centre in northern Syria – issued a joint statement about the crimes of the Turkish state and its mercenaries in the regions that are controlled by Turkey. The crimes in Afrin were particularly noted.
The organizations pointed out that: “As violations and crimes against women in Afrin are increasing daily, the latest statistics show that the number of women forcibly arrested or kidnapped and held in prisons of the Turkish occupying forces and their armed proxy factions has exceeded 1,000, some of whom have been released after paying ransoms to the armed factions or financial fines to courts affiliated to the Turkish forces.
“However, the fate of 400 other women remains known, including women who appeared recently in video footage when they were found in a prison of ‘Al-Hamzat Division’, after clashes between ‘Al-Hamzat Division’ and local gunmen from eastern Ghouta. Those women, who were found in the Turkish-backed faction’s prison, were handed over to the military police, who later returned them to the ‘Al-Hamzat Division’, despite their families’ meeting with the Turkish governor and their efforts to set them free, which were in vain”.
The organizations, furthermore, clarified that “the families of some of these kidnapped women have paid visits to their daughters in Ma’rata prison in Afrin city, where the women spoke of their suffering and demanded their release by whatever means, as they are abused and mistreated in such prisons. It seems that the women, kidnapped and arbitrarily arrested, are awaiting an unknown and terrible fate, especially since their families have been warned not to reveal the kidnappers’ identities.
“We, as civil and human rights organizations, appeal to all international civil and human rights bodies, and women’s organizations in particular, not to remain silent and to work diligently, under the power of international and human rights laws, charters and accords, to exert pressure on Turkey to disclose the fate of the forcibly arrested and kidnapped women wherever they are, whether in prisons affiliated to Turkish forces or their proxy factions.
“We also call for fair trials, bringing the perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity to justice, protection of the remaining civilians in Afrin, withdrawal of Turkish forces and their proxy armed factions, securing the return of all forcibly displaced civilians, and providing everything needed for their safety and stability”.
The signatory organisations were the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the Kurdish Legal Organization, the Al-Jazera Human Rights Organization, Kurdish Antenna Organization (Belgium), the Human Rights Organization in Afrin (Syria), the Kurdish Civil Society Organization in Europe, the Research and Protection of Women’s Rights in Syria Centre, the Rights Defence Initiative, the Hevi Kurdish Association (Belgium) and the Violations Documentation Centre in northern Syria.