Statement on Turkey's military intervention in Northern Syria

Human Rights Foundation of Turkey

The Turkish military has been running an operation called 'Olive Branch' in Syria since 20th January 2018. Reports from the region show the human cost of the ongoing operation, including hundreds of dead as well as injured; and show how it has fuelled conflict in the region.

Meanwhile, reports from inside Turkey cover stories of increasing oppression of the dissident voices opposed to war. These include hundreds of people detained or arrested due to their social media posts criticising the government and its military intervention, as well as the arrests and detainment of the prominent figures, such as the Turkish Medical Association council members who opposed the military operation declaring “war is a matter of public health”.

War Resisters' International stands in solidarity with activists in Turkey supporting peace and opposing war in Syria, Turkey and elsewhere. Below is a statement by the Human Rights Association and Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, which WRI's Turkey Working Group endorses, on the ongoing military operation in Northern Syria.

War Kills! No to War! We Want Peace!

The statements of the Turkish political authority regarding military intervention into Afrin in Syrian lands turned into a hot war on 20 January 2018. The air operation to Afrin was launched subsequent to the statements of the President of the Republic and then of General Staff. Additionally, it is understood from the images of the press that the ground assault was also launched together with the participation of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) consisted of nondescript paramilitary groups which were transported into Syrian lands through Turkey.

In our previous statements we warned the political authority and announced our attitude towards not entering into such a hot war.

Although there is an attempt to gloss over some clear facts of war, we would like to share the basic, ordinary truth once again:

War kills, mutilates, causes immigration, affects especially children, women, LGBTI+s, is the source of grave human rights violations, particularly torture; leads to deep traumas in societies’ emotional worlds to be handed over new generations; war is ecological destruction, war wipes out economic sources.

Specifically we would like to share with the public that there are issues in the statement made by the General Staff on 20 January 2018, which do not satisfy the democratic public opinion and are contrary to the law and legitimacy.

First of all, in order for Turkey to carry out military intervention in Syrian and Iraqi lands, the need for an UNSC decision is known by anyone. The Article 91 of the Constitution requires this. The authorisation for use of force issued by the Government is not sufficient for this action. In the statement of the General Staff, they addressed to the UNSC decisions with regard to counter terrorism. However, these decisions are not regarded with the organisations declared by the UNSC as terrorist organisations. As known by the General Staff, the so-called Daesh is included in the justification for the operation. The whole world knows that there is no Daesh in Afrin. Under this circumstances, performance of military aggression into lands of another country by justifying the organisations which are not addressed in the UNSC decisions is not valid before the public opinion and UN. Moreover, the threats and attacks from Syria’s Afrin to Turkey must be concretely put forward. Such an attack (other than harassment fires at the border) has not been declared to the public. Therefore, the basis for the Article 51 of the UN Charter is not formed.

It is also remarkable that the justification for an aggression meaning declaration of war was announced by the General Staff. The Parliament and Government are actually deactivated.

It is indicated in the statement by the General Staff that maximum care will be given for preventing civilian casualties. However, as a result of the aggression performed, the news and images indicating tens of civilian injuries and deaths in the several media outlets raises deep concerns. Turkey is a party to the Geneva Conventions and should be aware of its responsibility of actions. We would like to share once again our concern that the possibilities in Afrin where hundreds of thousands of people live may give rise to humanitarian catastrophe.

As indicated above, we would like to state that the threat required for Turkey to attack Afrin region is not concretely available. The impression is taken that Turkey started a warmongering action which can lead to grave sufferings as such in order for the political authority in Turkey to continue its oppressive and authoritarian character and State of Emergency. Assessing as a threat the government established by the communities being relatives and cognates of the Kurdish and Alewite people living in Turkey together with other peoples is contrary to democracy and human rights. This situation may give rise to profound polarisation between the peoples who want to live together with peace in Turkey, and endanger Turkey’s domestic peace. We invite the political authority to back down from this lunatic warmongering actions. We call on the political authority once again:

Back down from the policies based on war, conflicts inside and outside country. There is an opportunity to live together with all the peoples and belief groups within the scope of the democratic rules as long as the will for solution of these problems is demonstrated in peaceful and democratic ways. Just like numerous examples in the world, Turkey needs genuine conflict resolution for the solution to the Kurdish Question.

Turning the process of 15 July 2016 coup attempt, which was successfully suppressed, into a counter-coup and ruling the country through State of Emergency as of 20 July 2016, the political authority confronted the country with a fait accompli and dragged the country into a hot war now by justifying their actions considering the government of Syrian Cantons. Unless the political authority backs down from these policies, it is apparent that Turkey will be governed in accordance with state of war. Under circumstances as such, there will be nothing to say regarding human rights and democracy.

We call on the public opinion, especially human rights movements and institutions in Turkey and World to end this war before it spreads and to take initiative and take the action regarding solution to the problems via dialogue and negotiation.

We Defend Peace Against War!
We Purposely Say Peace!




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