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Home arrow newsitems arrow PACE Bureau to Turkey: STOP Military Invasion in Syrian Kurdish area,Respect Human Rights+Seek Peace

PACE Bureau to Turkey: STOP Military Invasion in Syrian Kurdish area,Respect Human Rights+Seek Peace

Written by ACM
Wednesday, 24 January 2018

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*Strasbourg/Council of Europe/Angelo Marcopolo/- In 4 Points read by an official with a Mandate by CoE's Parliamentary Assembly's (PACE) Bureau, the PanEuropean Organisation's Top Political Body asked Turkey to Stop its Mlitary Invasion of Syria's Kurdish Region, (while also appealing to the UN SC to Back Further this Call), and called Turkey to Respect Human Rights, as well as to Seek Peace.

 

 
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At least PACE's 4 Biggest Political Groups (those of ChristianDemocrats/EPP, Liberals, Socialists, and EuroLeft), supported such a move, which, (as PACE's Presidency confirmed Twice), might, eventually, be followed, from Friday, also by a formal Report and Resolution, due to be Debated in Public and Voted by the Plenary Later-on.


Ankara's Military Intervention was qualified, by "very" or "Deeply Concerned" Speakers on behalf of PACE's Bureau and the main Groups, as "Shocking", "Alarming", "Worrying" and "Extremely Serious", with "Severe Consequences", (particularly "for the Civilian Population").
The "Turkish Authorities" were accused to "put Extra Fuel on the Fire", their Claims to have "No Proof", and the Turkish "Army (to) Enter Syria in order to Stay there", provoking "Instability" and "further Undermining Security", also by further "Upseting the Kurdish Communities in Turkey" : - "The Longer the Interventon in Syria Lasts, and the More Violence is used, the More Internal Tensions in Turkey will Grow and lead to new Explosions of Violence", warned Tiny Cox, from the Netherlands, speaking in behalf of PACE's Bureau.


- Already, "there are Many Victims" even "among ... Non-Combatants", i.e."Innocent Victims", as "Shells Rain down on Residential Areas", Denounced Romanian MEP Stroe, on behalf of the ChristianDemocrat/EPP Group. "The Number of Civilian Victims of Bombardments is Mounting, Day by Day". And "Thousands of Civilians are reported to be Fleeing the Province", added Armenian MEP Marukyan, on behalf of the Liberal Party.


- Significally, The  endangered Civilians are "the same People who Fled the Barbary of ISIL (and) now Fear for their Lives again" : Almost 800.000 Civilians, (among them Many Yazidi and Christian Refugees". "They Now Fear the Jihadist Groups operating in the Shadows of the Turkish offensive", Stroe denounced. "The Region was one of the Few Parts  of Syria that was relatively Stable and UnTouched by the .. Conflict". But "it Now faces the full-scale Consequences of the Turkish Offensive", Marukyan observed. A formerly "Peaceful, Olive-Producing, Kurdish Majority Town of Afrin has been Turned into a Theater of War", added Kurkcu, on behalf of the EuroLeft Group of MEPs.


- "Our Most Important Concern is the Safety of  Innocent Civilians", and "All Parties involved" ("in particular those who Initiated that Armed Conflict") "Bear the Responsibility for Protecting Civilians", while "a New Wave of Refugees" profiles at the Horizon, since "Turkey Risks Esclating Syria's Humanitarian Crisis, and Civilians are in Danger", by "the Consequences of the Turkish Assault" : Already "the UN estimate that 5.000 People have been Displaced by Clashes" "in NW Syria", and, "Furthermore, an estimated  323.000 Civilians are at Great Risk", Warned Ms Mikko, from Estonia, on behalf of the Socialist Group. "Thousands of Civilians are reported to be Fleing the province". There is an "Emergency situation and Civlian Casualties as a result of Attacks on (formerly) Peaceful Towns and Cities", Marukyan pointed out. "According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, .. many Civilians, including Children and the Elderly, have Lost their Lives in Air Raids and Artillery Shelling, while Thousands have Fled their Homes", Kurkcu noted.

+ Moreover, "this (Turkish Military) Operation has Opened up an Unecessary New Front", "and could Divert the Coalition-Backed Syrian Kurdish Combattants from the Main and Essential Objective ; The Fight against ISIL and Other Terrorist Groups", she pointed out.

++ Meanwhile, the Turkish Government "says that those Who want to use the Fundamental Rights of Freedom to Gather and Freedom of Expression, to Oppose this Military Intervention, will <<Pay a High Price>> (sic !)", Cox Warned. "Many Tens of People who have Called on the Government to Stop the War, have been Arrested", observed Kurckcu. Already, "Turkey has Detained ... 150 People for  Writing Social Media Posts about its Military Campaign, against the Kurdish Militia in Syria, since the Operation Began : Detainees include Politicians, Journalists and Activists !", Mikko Denounced. "It could lead to a Further Limitation of Fundamental Freedoms, such as the Right to Free Expression and Demonstration", which "are already Severely Strained, under the Continued *<<State of Emergency>>- "This Military Operation mustNot be carried out at the Expense of the Fundamental Rights of People in Turkey, and of Civilians in Syria", she refused.

 

+++Ankara aims also to Impose a "30 kms - Deep Zone, inside Syria", together with a Proxy 25.000 "pro-Turkish" Armed Groups, who have "Joined the Invasion", several MEPs  denounced.,                                                                                                                                                                         

++++ On the Contrary, "the (mainly Kurdis) YPG" emerged "from the Struggle for Survival, by the Peoples of Northern Syria, Facing Horrendous ISIL Massacres", reminded Kurkcu. "Following the Legendary Defence of the People of Kobani, in 2014, (NDLR : Supported by CoE's Assembly : See ...), it has become a Symbol of Hope, not only for its own People, but for the whole World, in Defence of Human Dignity against ISIL across the Globe". "In 2016, COE's Assembly awarded a Yazidi Woman, Nadia Murad, the "Vaklav Havel" Prize, for the Courage she displayed during Years of Captivity at the Hands of ISIL, as a Sex Slave". While "Thousands of Other Yazidi Women were Rescued from Slavery by the Kurdish Womens' Defence Units - the YPI- between 2014 and 2017, when ISIL was finally Defeated. These Women were role Models for Young women across the Globe. ... They were the Cover Stars of Mainstream Magazines accross the World", he highlighted, Showing relevant Photos. "Now Ankara is Targeting these Women, ... Because they are part of Autonomous Administrations that Rule Themselves, in their Native Tongue, accross Northern Syria. .. What a Crime ! Throughout Human History, for a People to Arise from Nothing, to Represent Hope for Humanity, could be seen as ...Virtuous", he observed.

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+++++ "To this Day, Turkey has Not come under a Single Military Attack ...from the Inhabitants of Afrin", "Nor has the town Ever Hosted a single ISIL Unit", reminded Kurkcu. So that, "Lacking of Any Moral or Military Justification, the Afrin Incursion comes at a Time when Voters' support for Turkey's Ruling Party, Ahead of the 2019 General Election if Plummering. The only Plausible, yet Unacceptable Reason for the Incursion is a possible Leverage for fanning Nationalism in Turkey, and Crushing the Opposition, (by) using the War as Pretext", he accused.


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=> In Consequence, "We (CoE) Need not only to express our Thoughts, but to Act !", Mikko stressed, on behalf of the Socialist Group. "The Most Important thing is to Protect Civilians, and to Respect International Law". And "we .. Urge ... Turkish MEPs to do their outmost to Seek Peace and Stability, through Diplomatic and Political Channels, at Home and Abroad", she added- "We .. Call on Turkey to Cease its Military Operations and Refrain from further Escalation of Attacks", stressed Marukyan, on behalf of the Liberal Group of MEPs. "USA, France, and Other International Actors have already ... Called for a Halt to Military Actions". The "Liberal" Group of MEPs "Calls on the International Community to Intervene, and Stop the further increase in Violence and Mass Human Rights' Violations in Syria", he concluded. - "The (CoE's) Assembly" should "Call on Turkey to raise the Right to Live in Peace at the Top of the Agenda, and Release all those Detained in Prison for Defending Peace", Kurkcu urged, on behalf of the EuroLeft Group. "Our Most Important Concern is the Safety of Innocent Civilians", and, "in Conclusion, we (COE Assembly) Urge (the PanEuropean Organisation's 47) Member States to identify a Peaceful Solution", stressed Stroe, on behalf of the ChristianDemocrat/EPP Group of MEPs.


>>> - "We should Act Now", urged from the outset, the "First Speaker, Chosen by (PACE's) Bureau", as the Assembly's Presidency underlined, Senator Cox from the Netherlands:  He made "4 Proposals :"


(1)  "First, to Call on the Turkish Authorities to Immediately STOP their Military Intervention in Syria, to Respect the UN Charter, and to Look for Political Ways to Solve Political Problems, including Security needs".


(2) + "Call on CoE's (47) Member States to use their Influence in the UN Security Council, (including those which are Permanent Members of the UN SC), to have asap. a UN SC Resolution demanding the End of Hostilities, and the Immediate WithDrawal of the Turkish Army from Syrian soil".


(3) ++ "Call on the CoE to Use All its Possibilities (the Committee of Ministers, the Assembly, the Secretary General, and the Human Rights Commissioner) to Convince ... Turkey (a Member State) that this Unilateral Military Intervention Violates the UN Charter, and the Values and Principles of our Organisation" (CoE).


(4) +++ "Call on the Turkish Authorities and the Turkish-Kurdish Community, to ReStart the Peace process, that was Jeopardized in 2015, but which is, according to (PACE) Resolution number 1925 of 2013, "the Obvious Way Forward, in Ending Violence, and Creating a Peaceful Environment for the Solution of the Kurdish Question".


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Followed ... no less than Seven (7) mainly Turkish Establishment's, (with 2 Azeri, obviously Traped by Baku-Ceyhan Pipeline...), simple Speakers, (compared with only 4 Europeans : from France, Germany, Ireland and Belgium, all Opposed to the pro-Government Turks), who, inter alia, attempted to Explain everything by "... the Film "Post" or "Pentagon Papers" (sic !), revealed that "Turkish (Military) Forces are also currently in Syria's Idlib province", (i.e. even more at the South of Afrin province, discussed here), Boasted that "Turkey has decided to ... CLEAN the Territory" (sic !), etc.


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Concluding, CoE Assembly's vice-President, MEP Ana Mendes from Portugal (of the Socialist Group), observed that "the matter May be Referred by the (PACE's) Bureau to a Committee for a Report", (possibly at the Next Bureau's Meeting, on Friday early Morning).


Such an eventual move would, most probably, imply also the existence of a Written Draft Text, (in the form of a Motion for Resolution, signed by several MEPs).

 

(../..)


***

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People in Europe and the World expect from CoE to make a succes of its "Monitoring" for Human Rights and Democracy, despite difficulties, said Finland's President Tarja Halonen to "EuroFora" at a crucial moment for the mecanism built 15 years ago by the paneuropean organization which celebrates its 60th Anniversary in 2009.

Halonen, known as "Mother" of CoE's "Monitoring" mecanism, a long-time MEP and former Foreign Minister before becoming Finland's President, holds a long experience in the mattter, after also serving twice as CoE and EU Chairwoman in the past. That's why she is well placed to judge how CoE's "monitoring" should deal today with some crucial issues of importance both to CoE and to the EU.

The move came just a Month before a crucial, last visit to Turkey, scheduled for June, by the President of CoE''s "Monitoring" Committee, Ukranian MEP Serge Holovaty, to finalize his Report on Ankara, the CoE Member State with the longest Monitoring procedure. From its results depends its overall credibility.

This is a Test-case, because, in fact, it's in order to avoid Sanctions threatened against Turkey by a CoE's Assembly's April 1995 Resolution for grave Human Rights violations, Democracy gaps, the continuing Military Occupation in Cyprus, the unresolved Kurdish problem, Aegean differend with Greece, etc., that MEPs decided to create, for the 1st time on April 1996, a "Monitoring" proces, allegedly destinated to check, without excluding Countries who did not fulfill all CoE's standards.

In the Past, the obliged withdrawal of Greece's Military regime and of its "Civil" cover-up out of the CoE had helped bring back Democracy in 1974. But, on the contrary, since April 1996, the idea was to "monitor" Human Rights' respect while keeping most concerned Countries inside the CoE. After Turkey's oldest example, this was extended also to several former "Eastern" European Countries, even if CoE's Assembly has imposed to some of them (fex. Ukraine, Russia, etc., after Belarus, Serbia, etc) various "Sanctions", that Ankara always avoided. Curiously more succesful even than .. USA itself, (a CoE "Observer" since 1995), which has been at least threatened with sanctions some years ago..

EU-effects of CoE's Monitoring process became obvious between 2001-2008, since the "closure" of this procedure, when CoE felt that a Country had met most of its Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law obligations, (i.e. the "Copenhagen Criteria" for the EU), helped trigger Negotiations with the EU for "Accession" or other closer relations : This occured already before the 2004 and 2007 EU Enlargements to former "Eastern" European Countries, as well as for the commencement of "accession" negotiations with Croatia, and of "open-ended" negotiations with Turkey in 2005.

    But a stricking new development are Holovaty's recent findings that on core Human Rights issues as Torture and Freedom of Expression, Turkey, even "5 Years after" CoE closed its "Monitoring", back in 2004, inciting EU to start accession Negotiations in 2005, still presents grave problems.

    His findings are of crucial importance after a 2008 CoE Resolution called, "if need be", to "seriously consider the possibility of Re-Opening the Monitoring procedure for Turkey" : A move which might affect Ankara's controversial EU bid, since EU Accession Negotiations are based on the Hypothesis that the Candidate fullfils the "Copenhagen Criteria" (See above)..
-------------------------
    Holovaty expressed his will to check  "Matters still Outstanding" and  those that he "didn't have an opportunity to discuss" at an earlier visit this year, "in order to discuss the more complex issues in greater depth", at his forthcoming New Visit to Ankara, before the December 2009 EU Summit.  This is all based on the 2004 CoE Resolution which stresses that, CoE "will continue.. post-monitoring Dialogue with the Turkish authorities,...in addition to a 12-points list,..and on any Other Matter that might arise in connection with Turkey’s Obligations as a CoE member state".

    CoE's Resolution also asks  from Turkey "to secure the proper Implementation of Judgements, particularly in the Cyprus v. Turkey InterState case", of 2001, which concerns also the plight of many Hundreds of MISSING People. It adds Turkey's obligations to "execute" ECHR's Judgements in the Loizidou case,..and in particular adopt General Measures to avoid repetition or continuation of Violations found by the Court" to the detriment of Refugees.

    Nevertheless, Holovaty said to "EuroFora" that "MISSING" persons,"might be included" and cannot be excluded, but he has yet to examine the situation "to find out  which issues will be raised" to the Turkish Government.

    Therefore, "EuroFora" asked Halonen, as the Historic "Mother" of CoE's Monitoring mecanism, if she thought that, "whenever there are grave Human Rights Violations, as fex. "MISSING" persons, attested even by ECHR's judgements, they should be always checked by a Monitoring process. Or could they be forgotten ?"
    
     - "We (CoE) must be, at the same time, Fair, Realistic, but not in the mind that "now we have Forgotten", etc., replied to "EuroFora"'s question Halonen, speaking as a matter of general principle.

    - "When we think of those People that are suffering from the lack of Democracy, of Human Rights, and of the Rule of Law", "we should find a base on how to deal with the (Monitoring) system more rapidly"', she stressed.

    - "Sometimes it's very difficult to combine Transparency and Effectivenes together, particularly in this specific case", she went on to say. But, "I have not found a (CoE Member) Country who could be insensitive in this sens", Halonen answered concerning grave Human Rights violations attested by the ECHR.

    - "I have no ready-made answer. I have the expectations that you, in the CoE, will, step by step, find the different types of the monitoring systems."

    Also "because this is a part of the UN's Post-Conflict system, (fex. when it comes to Cyprus' MISSING persons), and it's a more Global system". So that, "If we make a succes in Europe, the others will follow", throughout the World.  "But they expect that we (Europe) are this opportunity, this Opportunity to make a Succes", Halonen concluded.

    In addition, she advised to extend CoE's Monitoring to all its 47 Member States, "because, as long as we hear that, all these monitoring systems are "OK for the neighbor, but not for me", "it's very difficult" to understand. Something which could make easier to Compare...

    Finnish MEP Jaako Laakso, former CoE Rapporteur on the Occupied Territories of Cyprus and one of the 5 Signatories of the Historic CoE's call to create the "MONITORING" mecanism since 1996, was more specific :  - "We (CoE Assembly) have to find a way for the issue of Cyprus' MISSING People to be better followed", he stressed, anouncing his intention to "speak to Mr. Holovaty" about that. "There might be also other ways", added Laakso.

    - The 2008 "Year had been a very Bad one for Turkey with regard to Human Rights in general, and Freedom of Expression in particular", denounced, meanwhile, Holovaty's preliminary Post-Monitoringh Draft Report by Holovaty, published by the CoE on April 2009.

    "Amnesty International believes that freedom of expression is not guaranteed given the various articles of the Criminal Code that restrict it. .. "For example, 1,300 Websites are said to have been closed down by the (Turkish) authorities in 2008" ! While "the new Turkish Criminal Code was used to bring a total of 1,072 proceedings between June 2005 and April 2008, and led to the conviction of 192 people", for expressing views. "Representatives of the Özgür Gündem newspaper, which specialises in Kurdish affairs, ..complained about Numerous Attacks on their Freedom of Expression ...as was everyone who advocated a settlement to the question by means other than the intervention of the army" "According to their figures, 19 Newspapers had been suspended 43 times between 4 August 2006 and 4 November 2008" !...

    Moreover, on 2008,  CoE's "Ministers adopted its 4rth Resolution on the execution of the judgments of the ECHR, ...and outstanding issues regarding 175 Judgements and decisions relating to Turkey delivered between 1996 and 2008...  concerning Deaths resulting from the excessive use of force by members of the Security forces, the failure to protect the right to life, the DIisappearance and/or death of individuals, Ill-Treatment and the Destruction of property". CoE's " Ministers urged the Turkish authorities ...to ensure that members of Security forces of all ranks can be prosecuted without administrative
authorisation" for "serious crimes". Holovaty reminded.

"Nonetheless", Holovaty heard anew of "Several cases of Violence committed last year (2008) by the (Turkish) security forces". Amnesty International speaks of Many Cases of ill-treatment and Torture in the prisons and by the police". "Including, fex."'the death of Engin Ceber, a young man of 29 who died on October 2008 as a result of the TORTURE allegedly inflicted on him by police officers, prison staff and members of the gendarmerie. He was part of a group of people arrested on September 2008 during a demonstration and Press Conference in Istanbul'. Proceedings against suspects are "on-going" in this case.

- " I therefore noted an Obvious Contradiction between the Government’s stated “zero tolerance” policy.... of Torture and other forms of ill-treatment, and the different testimonies given", denounced CoE's Rapporteur.  Turkish "authorities must make considerable efforts to guarantee that proper investigations are carried out into allegations of abuses by members of the security forces and that perpetrators are effectively punished" "In this respect, I have requested detailed Statistics on the number of Investigations, acquittals and convictions in cases involving allegations of abuse in order to show the positive impact of the measures taken to date", Holovaty said, repeating a permanently unsatisfied CoE's demand to Turkey since a Decade...

    - "The Political Crisis that shook the country in the spring of 2008 highlighted the Weaknesses of the (Turkish) Constitution", which comes from the Military regime of 1982, "and the Urgent Need of Reforms", stressed from the outset CoE's Rapporteur in 2009. In particular, "the ...Democratic functioning of state institutions, including the independence of the judicial system, are crucial", he observes.

    But, "the Electoral  system and the ways in which it is circumvented do not appear to give those elected complete Legitimacy, and tend to pervert the course of direct universal suffrage", denounces Holovaty, observing that, even 5 Years later, Turkey did not yet change the 10% nationwide Threshold for a party to take any seat, which is "far higher" than the "3%" maximum in Europe and already condemned as contrary to European Standards by the CoE.

    + Moreover, EU Parliament's 2009 Report on Turkey, drafted by Dutch MEP Ria Oomen-Ruijten and adopted in Strasbourg on March, expresses "Concern over the Failure of the (Turkish) Judiciary to prosecute cases of Torture and Ill-treatment, the Number of which is Growing". EU also "is concerned about continuing Hostility and Violence against Minorities" in Turkey. It also "calls on the Turkish Government to launch, as a matter of Priority, a Political Initiatve favouring a lasting Settlement of the Kurdish issue, (while "condemning violence.. and terrorist groups"). EU "regrets that No progress has been made on establishing full, systematic Civilian suprevisory functions over the (Turkish) Military".

    The final results of Holovaty's 2nd and last visit to Turkley will be known later this year, and, at any case, before EU's December 2009 Summit.

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