Syriac Women’s Union holds first meeting in two months, denounces crimes being committed against women in Afrin

HASAKAH and ZALIN (QAMISHLI), Syria – After more than two-months without meetings due to the precautionary measures in place to combat the novel coronavirus COVID-19, the Syriac Women’s Union (SWU) in North and East Syria gathered for the first time at the headquarters of Beth Nahrin Academy for Young Women in Hasakah city on Sunday.

During the meeting, SWU official Siham Quryo and members of the SWU discussed the necessity of establishing educational activities for the Union’s members and the wider public in addition to several matters related to the station of the Union.

Quryo also met with teachers of the Ishtar Kindergartens at Beth Nahrain Academy for Young Women headquarters where she discussed the status of the 2020 academic year within the two kindergartens. The necessity of a summer semester was stressed by the teachers of both kindergartens to help make up for the time lost as a result of the coronavirus preventive measures.

Additionally, the Syriac Women’s Union participated in a joint press statement issued by several women’s organizations that demanded the United Nations and international human rights organizations to form a fact finding committee in order to hold the perpetrators of violence against women in Afrin accountable.

During a recent spat of in-fighting amongst the Turkish-backed factions occupying Afrin, dozens of women, many of them naked, were freed from a detention center run by one of the groups out of their headquarters.

The statement was read out in Syriac, Kurdish, and Arabic. The Syriac language statement was read out by Syriac Women’ s Union official in Zalin (Qamishli) Sabah Shabo.

The statement read:

“Since the beginning of the Turkish occupation and its mercenaries for the city of Afrin, its violations and practices – which fall under the category of war crimes in light of a general international silence – are still ongoing, despite the resistance made by the people of Afrin in the face of forced displacement and the systematic demographic change that the Turkish occupier and its mercenaries aim at.

The people of Afrin are exposed on a daily basis to the most brutal inhuman violations and systematic violence, in which women had severely suffered as a result of the continued indiscriminate shelling of al-Shahba areas, kidnapping, rape, forced marriage of minor girls, and the killing and torture of women in detention centers inside the city of Afrin and its occupied villages to completely empty the region of its population.”

The statement went on to say that the crimes against women in Afrin should be considered war crimes and called on the international community and human rights organizations to investigate the violations and hold the perpetrators accountable.