Please Confront Turkey's Authorities About Their Treatment of the Dead

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Since Turkish forces launched Operation Olive Branch last January, thousands of lives have been lost. Several international volunteers were killed in the invasion and in some cases, their bodies could not be retrieved.

While thousands have fled Afrin, many after being forced out of their homes to make space for other displaced and persecuted Syrians, others stay in Afrin, trying to move on in grim circumstances. One of many things that make their life arduous is that dead bodies are still lying around, decomposing in open fields and farmlands. This is, of course, unacceptable for sanitary reasons. Moreover, not being able to bury the deceased makes the families’ grief even more distressful and the thought of civilians, even children, encountering the decaying bodies of their loved ones is horrifying.

According to international humanitarian law (e.g. Article 15 of the 1949 Geneva Convention for the amelioration of the condition of the wounded and sick in armed forces in the field,) parties to a conflict have the duty to “search for the dead and prevent their being despoiled.” Apparently, Turkish authorities have not yet fulfilled this obligation and they have not given the Red Cross free and secure access to search the area.

The parents of Britain’s Anna Campbell and Iceland’s Haukur Hilmarsson have challenged the governments of the UK and Iceland to confront Turkish authorities on their obligations to the dead. The signatories of this petition urge the governments of all those who were killed in the Afrin invasion to pressure Turkish authorities to promptly fulfil their international obligations, and if some bodies have already been removed, to inform the appropriate governments where they are to be found.



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