ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - Ilham Ahmed, co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Council, on Sunday criticized the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to reject complains submitted by civilians of Afrin about multiple events that took place during the Turkish occupation there.
The ECtHR, an international court set up in 1959 to rule on individual or state applications alleging human rights abuses, refused to file a claim on the grounds that domestic remedies had not been exhausted, reported Deutsche Welle.
A number of civilians from Afrin have filed a lawsuit to ECtHR for the alleged destruction of their houses during Turkey's “Olive Branch” operation, launched on January 20, 2018.
By mid-March, Turkish troops and Syrian rebels had taken full control of the Afrin region. Since then, the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) has said it would continue its resistance by targeting rebel forces backed by Turkey in Afrin.
The plaintiffs argued that their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) had been violated during the campaign.
The EctHT, which began examining the petitions in September, rejected the entire case by finding it "unacceptable," given the body's internal procedures.
“The EU court refuse[d] the complaints of people from Afrin about the violations of [the] Turkish state because they first didn’t complain through Turkish courts,” Ilham Ahmed wrote on her official Twitter account. “Is Afrin part of Turkey to follow its court? And Turkey itself is the perpetrator of human rights violations. So which justice will be implemented by Turkish courts and which justice does EU follow?”
The Region reported that Turkish courts — the system the EHCR suggests Afrin residents "exhaust" before submitting applications — have prosecuted hundreds of Turkish citizens that spoke out against the Turkish invasion in Afrin.
Within the first month of the operation alone, at least 449 individuals were detained on "terrorist propaganda" charges for anti-war posts on social media.
Turkey claimed its operation was carried out on the “basis of international law,” and “self-defense.”
However, a UN report released in July said that “civilians now living in areas under the control of Turkish forces and affiliated armed groups continue to face hardships, which in some instances may amount to violations of international humanitarian law and violations or abuses of international human rights law.”
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said in a statement, “As a matter of priority, OHCHR urges the Republic of Turkey to ensure that all armed groups over which it exercises control in Afrin and other areas of Syria strictly adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law.”
According to a report by Amnesty International, Turkish forces occupying the Kurdish city of Afrin are giving allied Syrian armed groups free rein to commit serious human rights abuses against civilians.
“Research released today reveals that residents in Afrin are enduring a wide range of violations, mostly at the hands of Syrian armed groups that have been equipped and armed by Turkey,” Amnesty said in August.
Moreover, another UN report concluded in September that Turkish air force may have failed to take all feasible precautions prior to launching certain attacks in Afrin, leading to the death of civilians.
Editing by John J. Catherine