Apparent censorship of parliamentary inquiries from MPs concerned by reports of kidnappings and sexual violence in Turkish-controlled Syria suggests that the government is actively hindering attempts to investigate these atrocities in the wake of a groundbreaking UN report.

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Since taking control of the Syrian Kurdish region of Afrin in 2018, the Government of Turkey has only responded to one parliamentary inquiry on the status of women and girls abducted by Syrian National Army (SNA) factions, official records show.

Four other inquiries — all of which were submitted after a September 2020 United Nations report documented arbitrary detentions, torture, and widespread sexual and gender-based violence in Turkish-controlled Afrin — have not only not been answered, but are not included in the Turkish Parliament’s online database of written questions and research proposals at all.

Turkey allows members of its parliament…


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This is a translation of an article published in Kurdish by JIN News on December 23, 2020. Find the original article here.

(JINNEWS/Sorgul Şêxo—Qamishlo)

Armanc Mohammed, head of the Women’s Economy of North and East Syria, evaluated their work during the past year and discussed the projects that had been implemented and the economic level that women had reached in North and East Syria. Armanc said that women had begun a revolution in the economic field and given color to the year 2020 with their efforts.

The Women’s Economy of North and East Syria develops projects and cooperatives so that…


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Women work at a bakery in Raqqa (ANHA).

This is a translation of an article published in Kurdish by Hawar News Agency on October 1, 2020. Find the original article here.

Early last year, the Raqqa Women’s Committee put forward plans and projects for the future. In two years, these have been realized. The Committee has thus provided jobs for nearly 5,000 women in Raqqa and its surrounding villages.

At the start of this year, the Women’s Committee implemented several plans that were previously approved. In this way, the committee hopes to reduce unemployment among the women of Raqqa and give them opportunities to work.

So far, the…


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While the applicability of the Kurdish movement’s feminist principles to non-Kurdish communities in Syria has been debated by analysts and observers, few serious attempts to understand how women from these communities view these principles in practice have been made.

The case of Manbij, liberated from ISIS by the SDF in August 2016, shows how women in a multi-ethnic Syrian city used AANES frameworks to build institutions, take on leadership roles, and organize in their communities to change discriminatory attitudes.

The success of women’s political and military structures in Manbij over time suggests that the AANES system can be a true…


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A still from a video of women held in a newly discovered detention site in Afrin.

On May 29th, video footage revealed the presence of several women in a secret prison operated by the Hamza Division, a Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) militia.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the women were initially found naked. The site was discovered after clashes erupted between SNA groups after a dispute over payment in a shop.

It is clear that these women, and others known to be in similar situations across Turkish-occupied Syria, have suffered inhumane and degrading treatment— and are at further risk as long as they remain in detention.

Reports of kidnappings, torture, and sexual…


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Members of a women’s commune elect their commune’s administration in Efrîn Canton (ANHA).

Before the Turkish occupation, Efrîn was a center of the ‘women’s revolution’ that North and East Syria has become famous for. Women’s institutions based on direct democracy and aimed at addressing gender inequality and other social challenges were active, and laws and policies mandating political equality had been put into practice.

Efrîn Canton saw minimal conflict in the six years between the withdrawal of Syrian government forces and the beginning of the Turkish invasion. It had also been a center of Kurdish movement organizing in Syria decades before the conflict began. …


North and East Syria faces serious challenges in the fight against COVID-19. 600,000 IDPs and refugees live in camps across the region, their situation already precarious without a pandemic. Ongoing attacks by Turkish forces, Turkey-backed militias, and ISIS complicate the security situation and threaten essential civilian infrastructure like water lines.

According to the Rojava Information Center, the region has only one ventilator per 100,000 people, and can handle a maximum of 460 cases before its health system is overrun. While the WHO has supplied test kits to the Syrian government, none of the kits have been given to authorities in…


Preconceived ideas about women, conflict, and mass atrocities have obscured the role ISIS women played in maintaining a social system based on slavery and genocide. Historical precedent shows that this view is dangerous— but not inevitable.

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Women leaving Baghouz, Syria after its liberation (Photo: YPG Press Office).

When the Syrian Democratic Forces forces liberated the final stronghold of ISIS in Baghouz, eastern Syria, the world celebrated the territorial defeat of a group that had once held an area the size of the United Kingdom under brutal fundamentalist rule. Though well worth such celebration, the operation — a final campaign in a conflict that had been ongoing since 2014 — had been delayed several times, and had taken months longer than expected. Fighting paused on multiple occasions as large groups of civilians, former fighters, and their families fled and surrendered. …


A six-month-long embargo is the latest threat that the 13,000 residents of Maxmur Camp— Kurdish refugees from Turkey— have faced in their efforts to defend themselves and rebuild stable lives.

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Maxmur Camp (ANF).

In the mid-1990s, thousands of Kurdish refugees from Turkey fled a scorched-earth state “counter-terrorism” campaign that displaced up to one million civilians and flattened as many as 4,000 villages. Once they reached Iraq’s Kurdish region, the refugees organized not only emergency accommodations, but also autonomous political, economic, and self-defense structures. In 1998, Maxmur Camp was established in its current location. Since then, it has maintained its democratic self-administration against steep odds— and faced threats from local and international powers because of it.

Rather than provide meaningful relief, the international community has chosen to target and isolate Maxmur— simply because of…


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Nine Syrian Kurdish civilians illegally detained in Hatay, Turkey.

On September 18th, 2018, the Hatay Public Prosecutor’s Office announced the arrest of nine Syrian Kurds, identified as M.C., A.M., C. M., F.K., H.K., İ.M., M.M.K., İ.M., and R.M., in Rajo district in Afrin. They were taken into custody allegedly in connection with the deaths of two Turkish soldiers, Oguz Kagan Usta and Mehmet Muratdag, who were killed in combat in Afrin on January 23rd, 2018.

The statement said that the accused were taken from Syria to Turkey immediately after their arrest on September 14th, 2018, and were charged with several offenses under domestic Turkish law — including “membership in…

Meghan Bodette

News and analysis on Northeast Syria.

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