11/10/2021

USCIRF Chair calls on U.S. to pressure Turkey to stop air strikes on North and East Syria

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On the two-year anniversary of the Turkish invasion of North and East Syria, Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Nadine Maenza stated that, having learned of the invasion during USCIRF’s monthly meeting, she had no idea that it would have such an impact on her life.

Maezna added that the commissioners, with the support of professional staff, agreed to issue a statement calling on the U.S. to demand Turkey to stop its air strikes on the region which have caused both military and civilian casualties. They also revealed the religious freedom they witnessed in North and East Syria in their 2019 annual report.

USCIRF called on the U.S. to demand that Turkey end its partnership with extremist militias that have wreaked havoc elsewhere in northern Syria.

“I met many people who made enormous sacrifices to build the Democratic Autonomous Administration government that gives everyone a seat at the table regardless of religion, race, or gender,” stated Maenza, describing herself as lucky to have visited North and East Syria three times in the past year.

She added that Turkey and its extremist militias have caused appalling conditions of religious freedom in the areas it occupied.

“The United Nations and other independent groups have documented the terrible crimes committed against the Yezidis, Christians, Kurds, and other religious and ethnic minorities,” said Maenza, calling on the U.S. and the international community to condemn these crimes and push Turkey to withdraw.