Demonstration for women held prisoner by militias in Afrin

In occupied Afrin, women are held prisoner and tortured by Turkish-backed jihadists. Women expelled from Afrin have today demonstrated in front of the UNHCR headquarters in Qamishlo and demanded immediate action.

In northern Syria, a storm of indignation is rising over the torture of women held captive in Afrin. A number of Kurdish women, many of them Yazidis, were abducted after the invasion of the city by the Turkish army in spring 2018, and many are still in the prisons of the militias commanded by Turkey, being tortured and sexually abused. Videos that have appeared on online networks in recent days show, among other things, the evacuation of abducted and imprisoned women prisoners found in an internment camp of the pro-Turkish militia Furqat al-Hamza.

For this reason, protest actions have again taken place in numerous cities in northern Syria. The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM) and various women's organizations in Syria see the UN, Russia, the USA and the international coalition as responsible and demand intervention by the international community. Today, women displaced from Afrin staged a demonstration in front of the UNHCR headquarters in Qamishlo and submitted a letter with their demands to UN Secretary General António Guterres and Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet about the events in Afrin.

On behalf of the women from Afrin, Mîdiya Omer said the following during the demo in front of the UNHCR office: "In images circulated by jihadists, it can be seen that dozens of Kurdish women are being held and tortured at a military base. Every day we hear about murders, kidnappings and looting in Afrin. These inhuman crimes are only possible because of the silence of the international community and human rights organisations. This silence is a disgrace."

The women of Afrin demand that the release of the imprisoned women must be arranged immediately. The crimes committed by the occupying forces in Afrin must be investigated by an international committee, independent journalists must be given access to Afrin, said Mîdiya Omer. The main demand remains the end of the occupation of Afrin and the possibility of return for the displaced population.