Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women


Dear Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka,

As Kurdish women’s organisations from all four parts of Kurdistan and the Diaspora, we are writing to you concerning serious and systematic war crimes faced by women in autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) also known as Rojava and more specifically in Afrin.


Afrin was invaded and occupied by the Turkish state on March 18, 2018. Prior to the illegal Turkish occupation, Afrin was part of the AANES and was an area where relative stability, economic prosperity and gender equality prevailed. Before the occupation, 92 percent of the population of Afrin consisted of Kurds. After the Turkish invasion, approximately 300,000 people from Afrin were subjected to forced migration and had to live in Shahba as internally displaced persons under very harsh conditions. Unfortunately, despite this reality, the UN has still not yet defined this occupation by the Turkish state, which ignores the international legal norms, as an ‘occupation’. This unacceptable situation clearly legitimises the colonisation of Afrin by the Turkish state. This silent complicity has directly led to the Turkish state escalating its occupation now to the level of ethnic cleansing. In Afrin, the Turkish state applies colonial, racist and deeply repressive laws.


Some of the war and humanitarian crimes committed by the Turkish state in Afrin so far:

  • Systematic changing the demographic of Afrin by placing Uyghur, Arab and Turkmen jihadist militant groups and their families in Afrin, supported and controlled by the Turkish state.
  • Violating the rights of the Christian, Alawite and Yazidi faiths.
  • The looting of civilian homes and workplaces in evacuated areas.
  • The illegal sale of olives and olive oil grown and produced in Afrin on the market in Turkey.
  • Pillaging of natural underground and surface resources.
  • Providing compulsory Turkish education to Kurdish children.
  • Systematic assimilation policy for Turkification.
  • Destruction of or illegal sales of historical artefacts.
  • Kidnapping to Turkey of the very few remaining Kurds in Afrin and the surrounding Kurdish villages.
  • Systematically physical and psychological torture of Kurds.
  • Banning of the Kurdish language, imposing Turkish as the language of education and daily life.


Dear Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka,

While the Turkish state is implementing genocidal policies against the Kurdish people, it exhaustively uses feminicide as a means of war against Kurdish women both because of their ethnic identity and women’s identity. However, gender-based violence against women – especially rape – during war was declared as a war crime by the UN.


ISIS gangs supported by the Turkish state implemented similar methods against Yazidi women in Shengal in 2014. The Turkish state tries to legitimise these crimes by exploiting Islam. However, this has nothing to do with Islam, but with the fact that the Turkish President Erdogan and the male-dominated Turkish state culture abuse Islam for their own purposes.


Just between March 2018 and November 2019, 1,200 Kurds were the victim of violence carried out by the invaders, 40 women were killed, 60 women were raped, 100 women were subjected to physical torture and over 1,000 women were abducted.

Crimes committed by the Turkish state against Kurdish women in Afrin include:

  • The sale of abducted Kurdish women in Turkey.
  • The rape of women by Turkish soldiers and gangs.
  • Child marriage and forced marriages.
  • Child abuse.


On 28 May 2020, due to the clashes between the armed groups affiliated with the Turkish state, the al-Hamza Division jihadist group published a video on social media about the release of 11 abducted Kurdish women. Currently, there is no information regarding the fate of 10 of those women. These women have been subjected to severe torture and rape before. This situation led to indignation among Kurdish women and the Kurdish people.


As Kurdish women, we consider these attacks as an attack on each and every one of us. Unless the expansionist policy of the Turkish state led by Erdogan is stopped and this invasion continues not to be defined as an occupation by the UN, the Turkish state which introduced neo-Ottomanism the Middle East will continue to be a threat to the lives of all Middle Eastern women. Wherever it invades and intervenes, it sells women, rapes and harasses them with help of mercenary gangs and its army.


For this reason, the United Nations should not be content with just criticising the Turkish state, it should punish it harshly with sanctions for its direct crimes. All the practices of the Turkish state and its armed proxy organisations against women in Afrin fall under the title of war crimes.


All UN standards of law are being trampled on. The UN’s continued inaction brings into question the organisation’s dedication to its founding principles, to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to the Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, and to the Geneva Convention are brought into question.


We expect you, referring to your authority within the framework of the UN’s women’s treaties to stop the war crimes such as occupation, exploitation and rape by the Turkish state and start sanctions against Turkey for these systematic crimes by putting UN mechanisms into practice.



Kind regards,

Leyla Birlik

Spokeswoman of the Women’s Commission of the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK)


Supported by:

  1. Union of Kurdish Women (PUK Women’s Union), Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI)
  2. Women’s Organisation of Gorran – The Change Movement, KRI
  3. Women’s Organisation of the Kurdistan Toilers’ Party, KRI
  4. Kurdistan Women’s League of the Kurdistan Communist Party, KRI
  5. Organisation for Development of Women’s Right of the Kurdistan Socialist Party,KRI
  6. Women of the Union of Former Parliamentarians, Erbil, KRI
  7. RJAK – Organisation of Free Women in Kurdistan, KRI
  8. ASUDA – Empowering Women to Lead, Sulaymaniyah, KRI
  9. REPAK – Kurdish Women’s Relations Office, KRI
  10. EMMA – Organisation against Discrimination of Women, Erbil, KRI
  11. RASAN – Organisation for Defending Women and LGBTQI Rights in Iraq, Sulaymaniyah, KRI
  12. DABIN – Women’s Organisation for Democratic Development and Human Rights, KRI
  13. Mrovdostan Women’s Organisation for Humanitarian Aid, Sulaymaniyah, KRI
  14. EZMUN – Women’s Association for the Development of the Society, KRI
  15. Kurdistan Women’s Doctors Organisation, KRI
  16. Women’s Section of CHAPK – Organisation of Human Development, Sulaymaniyah, KRI
  17. Women of ZARYAB Organisation for Cultural and Intellectual Services, Erbil, KRI 
  18. AZADBUN – Organisation of Liberating Kurdish Women, Sulaymaniyah, KRI
  19. SAZAN – Organisation for Human and Women’s Rights, KRI
  20. Xusonî Zeyton Êzîdî Women’s Organisation, KRI
  21. Women’s Organisation for Peace, KRI
  22. Semen Gul – Organisation of Women, KRI
  23. SAYE – Association of Women, Sulaymaniyah, KRI
  24. Women’s Section of Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan
  25. KJAR – Free Women Society of Eastern Kurdistan, East Kurdistan (Iran)
  26. Women’s Organisation of the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM), North & East Syria
  27. Women’s Council of the Democratic Union Party (PYD)
  28. Women’s Organisation of The Kurdish Democratic Left Party, North & East Syria
  29. Organisation of Women of the Democratic Change Party, North & East Syria
  30. Organisation of Women of the Kurdistan Toiler Party, North & East Syria
  31. Women’s Organisation of the Democratic Party of the Kurds in Syria (al-Parti), North & East Syria
  32. Organisation of Women of the Democratic Peace Party of Kurdistan, North & East Syria
  33. Women’s Organisation of the Free Patriotic Union Party, North & East Syria
  34. Women’s Organisation of the Future Movement, North & East Syria
  35. Women’s Organisation of the Future Party of Syria, North & East Syria
  36. Women’s Organisation of the Kurdistan Modern Democratic Party, North & East Syria
  37. Women’s Organisation of the Democratic Agreement Party of Kurds in Syria, North & East Syria
  38. WJAR – Foundation of Free Women in Syria, North & East Syria
  39. SAWÎŞKA – Associations on Empowering Women in Syria, North & East Syria
  40. Network for Kurdish Women Peace Leaders, North & East Syria
  41. TJK-E – Movement of Kurdish Women in Europe
  42. Kurdish Women’s Cultural Centre, Colorado, USA
  43. SARA – Free Women Collective Toronto, Canada
  44. International Kurdish Women’s Movement, Moscow, Russia
  45. Movement of Free Kurdish Women, Armenia
  46. Kurdish Women’s Union, Melbourne, Australia
  47. Kurdish Women’s Committee of Democratic Center, Sydney, Australia
  48. Women’s Board of Kurdistan Islamic Society (CIK)
  49. YJAD – Union of Democratic Alawi Women, Germany
  50. Women’s Section of Confederation of Democratic Alawites, Germany
  51. Umbrella Organisation of the Councils of Êzidî Women, Germany
  52. Umbrella Organisation of Êzidî Women’s Organisations, Germany
  53. Umbrella Organisation of Êzidî Women’s Associations, Germany
  54. BINEVŞ – Council of Êzidî Women in Berlin, Germany
  55. ZEYNEP – Council of Êzidî Women in Achim, Germany
  56. XANÊ DEMIR – Commune of Ezîdî Women in Bielefeld, Germany
  57. AVESTA – Commune of Ezîdî Women in Saarbrücken, Germans
  58. Organisation Mala/House of Êzidî Women, Germany
  59. NEWROZ – Women’s Organisation of the Feyli Kurds, KRI
  60. DAR- Women’s Organisation of the Kurdish Zoroastrians, KRI
  61. MÎTRA – Women’s Organisation of the Yarsan Kurds
  62. AZHAR- Women’s Section for Development of the Zoroastrian Kurds
  63. Organisation House of Hawraman/Horaman Women, KRI/East Kurdistan (Iran)
  64. Organisation of New Life for Woman Victims of the Anfal genocide
  65. RONAK, Organisation of Kurdish Women in Sweden
  66. SARA, Organisation of Kurdish Women, Sweden
  67. SMARA Council of Kurdish Women in Stockholm, Sweden
  68. WARŞÎN, Association of Kurdish Women, Sweden
  69. SEMA Kurdish Women’s Commune, Gothenburg (Göteborg), Sweden
  70. Kurdish Women’s Initiative Uppsala, Sweden
  71. Kurdish Women’s Initiative Borlänge, Sweden
  72. Kurdish Women’s Initiative Örebore, Sweden
  73. Kurdish Women’s Initiative Helsenborge, Sweden
  74. Kurdish Women’s Initiative Söderhamn, Sweden
  75. Kurdish Women Organisation, Sweden
  76. Kurdish Women’s Initiative Oslo, Norway
  77. Kurdish Women’s Initiative Helsinki, Finland
  78. SÊVÊ – Council of Kurdish Women Copenhagen, Denmark
  79. RONAHÎ – Women’s Council in The Hague, Netherland
  80. FATOŞ SAĞLAMGÖZ – Women’s Council in Arnhem, Netherlands
  81. JIN – Commune of Women in Rotterdam, Netherlands
  82. ROJBÎN – Commune of Women in Amsterdam/Zaandam, Netherlands
  83. YJK – Union of Kurdish Women’s Organisations in Germany
  84. CENÎ – Kurdish Women’s Bureau for Peace, Germany
  85. AZADBUN – Organisation of Liberating Kurdish Women, KRI
  86. KONGRA STAR Representation in the KRI
  87. RONAHÎ – Council of Women in Mannheim, Germany
  88. NÛJÎN – Council of Women in Hanau, Germany
  89. VÎYAN – Council of Women Mainz, Germany
  90. BERÇEM – Council of Women in Giessen, Germany
  91. AMARA – Council of Women in Frankfurt, Germany
  92. PAKÎZE NAYIR – Council of Women in Siegen, Germany
  93. SARA – Council of Women in Offenbach, Germany
  94. DENIZ FIRAT – Council of Women in Aachen, Germany
  95. EKIN VAN – Council of Women in Troisdorf, Germany
  96. DEST-DAN – Council of Women in Berlin, Germany
  97. SÊVÊ – Council of Women in Bremen, Germany
  98. RÛKEN – Council of Women in Bensheim, Germany
  99. JÎYANA JIN – Council of Women in Kiel, Germany
  100. NÛCAN – Council of Women in Leverkusen, Germany
  101. VÎYAN – Council of Women in Cologne, Germany
  102. ROZERÎN – Council of Women in Dortmund, Germany
  103. VÎYAN – Council of Women in Wuppertal, Germany
  104. UTA – Council of Women in Dresden, Germany
  105. ASYA YÛKSEL – Council of Women in Duisburg, Germany
  106. BERÎWAN ŞENGAL – Council of Women in Essen, Germany
  107. FÎDAN – Council of Women in Hagen, Germany
  108. ROJBÎN – Council of Women in Hamburg, Germany
  109. LIM ARÎN – Council of Women in Esslingen, Germany
  110. NÛDA – Council of Women in Freiburg, Germany
  111. LEGERÎN – Council of Women in Tübingen, Germany
  112. ARÎN MÎRKAN – Council of Women in Walsrode, Germany
  113. GULAN GULO – Council of Women in Lehrte, Germany
  114. BERÇEM CÎLO – Council of Women in Salzgitter, Germany
  115. ŞÎLAN – Council of Women in Münster, Germany
  116. HELÎN BAGOK – Council of Women in Limburg, Germany
  117. ARJÎN – Commune of Women in Meschede, Germany
  118. SARA – Commune of Women in Munich, Germany
  119. TÎJDA EKICI – Commune of Women in Grevenbroich, Germany
  120. TÎJDA – Commune of Women in Bingen, Germany
  121. MERYEM – Commune of Women in Hildesheim, Germany
  122. BARÎN KOBANÊ – Commune of Women in Nienburg, Germany
  123. MARYA MAZDA – Commune of Women in Gelsenkirchen, Germany
  124. SARA – Commune of Women in Trier, Germany
  125. NALÎN MÛŞ – Women’s Initiative in Düsseldorf, Germany
  126. EKÎN VAN – Women’s Initiative in Krefeld, Germany
  127. ŞERWÎN – Women’s Initiative in Recklingenhausen, Germany
  128. TJK-F – Kurdish Women’s Movement in France
  129. ARÎN MÎRKAN – Centre of Kurdish Women’s in Marseille, France
  130. ZÎN – Association of Women in Rennes, France
  131. ZÎN – Organisation of Kurdish Women in Villeneuve, France
  132. ZÎN – Association of Kurdish Women in Drancy, France
  133. ZÎN – Association of Women in Villiers le Bel, France
  134. ÇÎÇEK BOTAN – Women’s Association in Evry, France



A copy of this letter will also be sent to the following institutions:

–          Dr. Michelle Bachelet Jeria

High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) of the United Nations

  • UN Women Liaison Office in Geneva
  • UN Women National Committe Germany
  • UN Women Liaison Office in Japan
  • UN Women Liaison Office in Washington, D.C.
  • UN Women Liaison Office to the African Union
  • UN Women Liaison Office to the European Union
  • UN Women Liaison Office for the GCC
  • Arab States Regional Office
  • Egypt Country Office
  • Maghreb Multi-Country Office
  • UN Women China
  • UN Women India Multi Country Office
  • UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific


c/o: Kurdistan National Congress

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