Peace in Kurdistan patron Margaret Owen OBE has written an open letter to US President Barack Obama, urging him to make an urgent investigation into the brutal massacre and kidnapping of hundreds of Kurdish men, women and children at the hands of US- and Turkey-backed Al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria.
In the letter she reminds President Obama that Western Kurdistan had, until recent provocations, remained peaceful under the leadership of the PYD and had become a safe haven for many Syrian’s fleeing violence in the worn-torn country. Turkish anxieties over the new project of democratic autonomy in Western Kurdistan should not justify the international community’s indifference to the massacre of innocent Kurdish civilians.
The letter has also been supported by several prominent politicians, academics and human rights defenders. You can read it in full below and attached.
Margaret Owen OBE
36 Faroe Road, London, W14 0EP
Telephone: 44 (0) 207 603 9733
August 21st 2013
URGENT PLEA TO PRESIDENT OBAMA
Dear President Obama,
As lawyers and as women human rights defenders working internationally to protect all people from violations of international law, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing in civil war and sectarian violence, we implore you to use all available means, and harness all the resources of the UN and the international community to stop the massacres of innocent Kurdish men, women, and children in Syria.
And to ensure that there is an urgent investigation of the recent murders and kidnappings, on Monday, the 5th of August, of over 350 women, children and elderly people in the Aleppo villages of Tel-Abeyd, Serekaniye, Tel- Aran, and Tel- Hasel.
Western Kurdistan, under the democratic leadership of the PYD has been a haven for those fleeing the violence of militias, such as Al Nusra, linked to Al Qaida in other parts of war torn Syria. The Kurds of Syria have been the one voice promoting the equal rights of all religious and ethnic minorities in a democratic and just new post-Assad Syria.
It is the duty of the UN, the US, and the EU to support their peaceful and democratic initiatives, protect the Kurdish communities from these terrible atrocities and ensure that the perpetrators of these crimes are identified, arrested, and prosecuted for war crimes.
It is also essential that the true role of Turkey in arming those al Qaida militias, such as Al Nusra is investigated.
Although the Turkish authorities are now in peace talks with the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, and also engaged in discourse with the PYD leader Salah Muslim, it is clear that the AKP government fears that the developing democratic autonomy of the Syrian Kurds could have implications for the their own Kurdish population against whom they have been waging a cultural and physical genocide for so many decades. Therefore it is vital that the investigations into the recent massacres reach into the source of the arms obtained by the murder squads, that appear to have been conveyed across the Turkish border into Syria.
Kurdish women and children are being used as human shields; stripped, raped, tortured, kidnapped and killed.
We the undersigned plead for you, President Obama, elected on your commitment to uphold the rights and freedoms of all people, irrespective of race, religion or gender, to take urgent action now and lead an investigation into the terrible events of the last weeks.
Margaret Owen O.B.E. Barrister. Member of the UK Bar Human Rights Committee, and Patron of Peace in Kurdistan.
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC
Jean Lambert MEP
Jill Evans MEP
Caroline Lucas MP
June Jacobs, Vice Chair NAWO [National Alliance of Women’s Organisations] UK,
Past President, ICJW [International Council of Jewish Women]
Miriam James, archivist
Shatha Besarani, women’s rights activist and management committee member of the Iraqi Women’s League
Ahlam Akram, Basira
Mary Davis, Visiting Professor of Labour History at Royal Holloway, University of London
Kariane Westrheim, University of Bergen, Chair of EUTCC
Maggie Bowden, General Secretary, Liberation
Kawa Besarani, human rights activist
Lesley Abdela, Senior Partner, Eyecatcher/Shevolution
Jillian Gordon, barrister at law, J.P.
Martha Jean Baker, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, lawyer
Rona Epstein, researcher in human rights law
For more information please see Peace in Kurdistan Campaign’s emergency statement.