In a press release dated 17 May 2022, the Brussels-based Kurdish National Congress (KNK) published a letter to the UN Secretary-General. The senders call on the UN not to recognise the current attacks on Kurds and Yesids in northern Iraq and northern Syria as self-defence in the sense of Article 51 of the UN Charter. Europablog publishes the text of the letter here.

To the UN Secretary-General,

To UN Women,

Turkey’s aggression against Kurds reached a new stage in 2017 when it started its airstrikes against North East Syria, the Yazidi homeland Sinjar, and the Camp Makhmour in North Iraq, where more than 11,000 Kurdish refugees live.

Since then, Turkey has occupied the mainly Kurdish populated cities of Afrin (March 2018) and Serêkaniyê/Ra’s al-‘Ain (October 2019). Turkish armed drones permanently fly over North East Syria, Sinjar, and Makhmour, creating an atmosphere of fear and deep insecurity. Civilian infrastructure, cars, and houses are attacked without warning. People flee their land because they fear further Turkish attacks and occupation.

Turkey justifies its extrajudicial killings, drone attacks and military occupation operations as ‘self-defense’ in terms of Article 51 of the UN Charter. The Turkish state claims that its national security has been, and is, under direct threat from North East Syria, Sinjar and Makhmour. Ankara is moreover legitimising the current occupation of Northern Syrian territory on the border and further plans to occupy the border region in Northern Iraq thus ‘ensuring the border security of Turkey’. It instrumentalises the armed conflict with the PKK for further military occupation and political intervention in Northern Iraq, which further destabilises the situation there and deepens insecurity.

Suborganisations of the UN themselves regularly produce reports on the security situation in Syria as well as in Iraq. Neither North East Syria nor the Yazidi people of Sinjar nor the Makhmour Refugee Camp pose a security threat to Turkey. On the contrary, the Turkish military commits human rights violations, extrajudicial killings based on drone technology, and airstrikes against civilian and military targets in North East Syria, Sinjar, and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq/ Northern Iraq with impunity. All this is done in the name of UN Charter.

We the undersigned do not accept a UN-backing of Turkish aggression against Kurdish people in North East Syria and Northern Iraq. We reject Turkey’s claim of self-defence and underline that the Turkish state is the attacker. We call on the UN to condemn Turkish aggression against the Kurds and mobilise its mechanisms to stop Turkey’s cross-border attacks on North East Syria and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq/ Northern Iraq.

16 May 2022

  1. Kongra Star (Star Congress), confederation of women’s organisations in Rojava, North East Syria
  2. Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, AANES, Women’s Coordination, North East Syria
  3. Benedetta Argentieri, journalist and filmmaker, Italy
  4. Susanne Bader, European Coordinator of World Women’s Conference of Grassroots Women, Germany
  5. Clare Baker, International Officer of UNITE the union, UK
  6. Zahraa Banaho, human rights activist, West Sahara
  7. Trude Bennett, public health organizer, USA
  8. Janet Biehl, independent author, artist, translator, editor, USA
  9. Vicky Blake, UCU President, UK
  10. Baroness Christine Blower, House of Lords, UK
  11. Center for Research and Protection of Women’s Rights, North East Syria
  12. Debbie Bookchin, journalist and author, USA
  13. Debbie Brennan, Radical Women Australia
  14. Democratic Syria Council (MSD), women’s office, North East Syria
  15. Democratic Way Party, Women’s Branch, Morocco
  16. Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory, University of California, USA
  17. Orsola Casagrande, journalist, Basque Country
  18. Vandana Chaudry, Associate Professor, City University of New York, USA
  19. Louise Christian, lawyer, Honouary Vice-Chair of Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, UK
  20. Nora Cortinas, co-founder of Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, Argentina
  21. Molly Crabapple, artist and author, USA
  22. Angela Davis, author and Distinguished Professor Emerita, University of California, USA
  23. Mary Davis FRSA, Visiting Professor of Labour History at Royal Holloway University of London, UK
  24. Francesca Degiuli, Associate Professor, Fairleigh Dickinson University, USA
  25. Barbara Ehrenreich, writer and organiser, USA
  26. Silvia Federici, author and Professor Emerita of Social Science, Hofstra University, USA
  27. Lindsey German, Convenor Stop the War Coalition, UK
  28. Helen Gilbert, Radical Women U.S., USA
  29. Dr Sarah Glynn, writer, France
  30. Ozlem Goner, Associate Professor, College of Staten Island and Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA
  31. Saloua Guiga, FemWise-Africa Tunisia section, Tunisia
  32. Rahila Gupta, writer and journalist, UK
  33. Dr Hiba Haddadin, General Director of the Foundation for Gender Studies and Consultations, Jordan
  34. Jean Halley, Professor, City University of New York, USA
  35. Dr Basma Hamdi, Secretary General of the International Federation of African Women, Tunisia
  36. Dr Choman Hardi, Director of Center for Gender and Development Studies at American University of Iraq, Sulaimani, KRG
  37. Ava Homa, writer, journalist and activist, Canada/USA
  38. Dr Amber Huff, Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, UK
  39. Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, House of Lords, UK
  40. Hosu Kim, Associate Professor, City University of New York, USA
  41. Neemat Koko, Director of the Center for the Gender Studies, Sudan
  42. Claudia Korol, journalist and member of Feministas del Abya Yala, Argentina
  43. Andrea Koskondi, General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU) Executive Committee Member, UK
  44. Şeyda Kurt, author, Germany
  45. Dr Carol Mann, Director of Women in War, France
  46. Joya Misra, Professor, University of Massachusetts, USA
  47. Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, Green Party Member of the House of Lords, UK
  48. Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM), Women’s Office, North East Syria
  49. North East Syria Women’s Council, North East Syria
  50. Kazhal Nouri, author and organizer, Netherlands
  51. Shamiran Odisho, Secretary of the Iraqi Women’s Association, Iraq
  52. Margaret Owen, O.B.E., President Widows for Peace through Democracy, UK
  53. Julia Pascal, playwright, director, journalist, UK
  54. Maxine Peake, actress and writer, UK
  55. Rosalind Petchesky, Distinguished Professor Emerita of Political Science, Hunter College & the Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA
  56. Louise Regan, National Officer, Membership and Equality, National Education Union, UK
  57. Khadija Riyadi, activist, winner of the United Nations Human Rights Prize, Morocco
  58. Tiba Saad Abdelkarim, feminist movement Intadifi, Iraq
  59. Rita Segato, feminist academic and Professor Emerita at the University of Brasilia, Argentina
  60. Dr Maha Al Sekban, President of the Women Human Rights Center, Iraq
  61. Marina Sitrin, lawyer, author, and Associate Professor of Sociology, State University of New York, USA
  62. Sabah Shuaib, coordinator of the Peace Circles Network in the Libyan East, Libya
  63. Prof. Radha D’Souza, Westminster University, UK
  64. Gloria Steinem, writer and organizer, USA
  65. Dr Greta Sykes, writer and artist, UK
  66. Syria Future Party Women’s Branch, North East Syria
  67. Syria Women’s Council, Syria
  68. Atika Al Taiif, Democratic Way Party, Morocco
  69. Shavanah Taj, General Secretary Wales TUC, UK
  70. Meredith Tax, writer and organizer, USA
  71. Saadia Toor, Associate Professor, City University of New York, USA
  72. Professor Kariane Westrheim, Chair of EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC), Norway
  73. Debra Winger, actress and producer, USA
  74. Jan Woolfe, writer, Member of Theatre Committee – Writers Guild, UK
  75. Zenoobya Women’s Gathering, North East Syria

Featured image: Yezidi YBS Fighter by Kurdishstruggle CC BY 2.0 via FlickR

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