A group of European Parliamentarians condemn Turkey’s ongoing military operations in Syria and human rights abuses carried out in the region by Turkish-backed forces. The MEPs called on the European Union and member states to take a unified stance against these violations of international law.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from various political groups have issued a joint condemnation directed towards Turkey’s ongoing military campaign in Syrian territories and the grave human rights violations committed by Turkish-backed militias in north-west Syria.The MEPs highlighted atrocities endured by the Kurdish population in the Afrin region since Turkey’s so-called ‘Olive Branch’ military operation, which was launched in January 2018 and lasted over two months. The military offensive, carried out alongside Turkish-allied armed militias of the Syrian National Army (SNA), displaced more than 300,000 civilians, predominantly Kurds.

“Since then, the population in north-west Syria, particularly the Kurdish citizens, has endured widespread and systematic violations, including, inter alia, forced disappearances, forced displacement, arbitrary arrests, torture, sexual violence, and destruction or seizure of property,” the MEPs jointly stated.

The European Union and its member states must denounce Turkey’s actions and utilise all available diplomatic, political, and legal means to pressure the Turkish government into ceasing the human rights violations in Afrin and other territories in Syria under Turkish control, the MEPs said. Emphasising Turkey’s commitment to a multilateral foreign policy as a NATO member, they stressed the importance of safeguarding human rights.

Signatories to the statement include Katrin Langensiepen (Greens/EFA), Nikos Papandreou (S&D), Dietmar Köster (S&D), Malin Björk (The Left), Emmanouil Fragkos (ECR), Tineke Strik (Greens/EFA), Jan-Christoph Oetjen (Renew), Özlem Demirel (The Left), Malte Galée (Greens/EFA).

The MEPs further recalled that the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and Syrians for Truth and Justice (STJ), along with six survivors, filed a criminal complaint with the German Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office in January, urging for a comprehensive investigation into the perpetrators.

While previous investigations in Europe have focused on crimes committed by the Assad regime and extremist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS, the suffering of the Kurdish civilian population in north-west Syria has often been overlooked.

The MEPs urged the German Federal Prosecutor in Karlsruhe to initiate a thorough investigation into these violations and called on other EU member states to join in ensuring that all actors involved in the Syrian conflict are held to account.