Eight women’s movements and organisations in North and East Syria, initiated by regional women’s umbrella organisation Kongra Star, have sent an open letter to the United Nations and various European bodies, calling for immediate action to bring a halt to Turkey’s ongoing attacks against the region, citing violations of international law.
Since 4 October 2023, Turkey has been launching repeated attacks against North and East Syria and its diverse population, including Kurds, Arabs, Armenians, Circassians, Turkmens and Syriacs. Turkey justified its aggression by linking North and East Syria to an action carried out by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Ankara on 1 October, claiming that the attackers came from there.
The signatories include Kongra Star, North and East Syria Women’s Council, Armenian Women’s Union, Women’s Rights Protection Research Centre, Syrian Women’s Council, Syrian Syriac Women’s Union, Rojava Yezidi Women’s Union, and Zenubia Women’s Union. The letter calls on international institutions to take responsibility, particularly addressing women in significant political positions, urging them to contribute effectively to the establishment of a society based on women’s freedom.
The letter also emphasises that Turkey has committed numerous war crimes against the population of North and East Syria since it made a declaration on 4 October saying that after the Ankara bombing Turkish actions against Iraq and Syria were justified. The war crimes, the letter says, include intentional attacks on civilians, residential areas and vital infrastructure using air strikes, drone attacks and heavy weapons—actions that are clear violations of international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions and the Rome Statute.
In addition to the current attacks, the letter points out that Turkey has not guaranteed the protection of the civilian population in the regions of Afrin (Efrîn) and Ras al-Ayn (Serê Kaniyê), which it has occupied in violation of international law. Since 2018, more than 250 women have been abducted in the Turkish controlled region of Afrin.
The letter concludes by urging the international community, including UN member states and institutions, to take responsibility for protecting people from war and crimes against humanity. It calls for the establishment of a no-fly zone over North and East Syria and holds Turkey accountable for human rights violations and war crimes.