Serious violations of international law in E. Ghouta


By Kerem Kinik

Humanity is witnessing a great shame in Eastern Ghouta, which is a home to over 94 percent of the civilian population who is living under siege across Syria. Around 400,000 people are deprived of the basic needs, according to the UN’s reports.


Eastern Ghouta has been under siege since April 2013, with thousands of people have lost their lives and tens of thousands others sustained injuries. The chemical attacks on Aug. 21, 2013, had caused the loss of more than 400 civilian lives.

Chemical attacks, barrels and cluster bombs, and mortars have been continuing to claim the lives of civilians for more than 5 years. In Eastern Ghouta, the supply of basic necessities cannot be ensured due to the siege, while the prices of basic necessities have gone up to 30 times higher than that in other nearby regions.

Innocent children are the first victims of this tragedy. Nutritional deficiencies in the children have increased five-fold over the past 10 months. In spite of this terrible fact, humanitarian aids and volunteers are not allowed to enter the Eastern Ghouta and help the civilian population.

Despite the United Nations Security Council’s binding resolutions 2139, 2165, 2191, 2258, 2332 and 2393, people are deprived of basic necessities. This clearly violates the “Right to life” which is protected under the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

While the basic requirements for “controlled civilian population” were supposed to be fulfilled in accordance with the rules of International Humanitarian Law, the hunger is being used as “method of battle” in Eastern Ghouta.

Denying permission to the United Nations agencies, Red Cross Red Crescent Movement and other charity organs without any “reasonable justification” is a violation of humanitarian law.

This is an open manifestation of the violation of civilian rights and a ”crime” as per the Article 8 of the International Criminal Court Regulation.

Increasing number of casualties

The continuous bombing of areas such as Haresta, Nashabia, Duma, Ayni Terma, Irbin, Zemelka, Sakba, Misraba and Beyt Nayim, where civilians are located, has increased the number of casualties of innocent civilians. Schools are also major targets of the bombings.

Only this month, the attacks claimed lives of 1,000 people, most of them were children. Besides, over 3,000 people were also injured. Assaults without discriminating military and civilian targets are also violation of the most basic humanitarian law rules, “target distinction”.

The fact that humanitarian organizations are not allowed to give medical treatment and evacuate people, despite all the effort and requests, is a clear violation of article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of Aug. 12, 1949, which says wounded, sick and shipwrecked be collected and cared for. The protected parties are left to die because they are denied medical services. This is inhuman in all dimensions.

Baby Kerim, who lost his sight and had a shattered face after being hit by the shrapnel pieces, or the death of the 9-month-old baby Huseyin are only a few examples of the shame of mankind in the face of this tragedy.

Today in Eastern Ghouta, thousands of civilians who need medical care and evacuation are left to die. Being unable to respond to the calls we have heard for many days, denying ears to the most innocent cries of the helpless sisters Nur and Ala is just one example of a historic shame of the international community.

Thus, another worrying and frightening situation is the attacks on medical facilities and healthcare personnel. This acts of assaults are a serious violation of the Article 25 and 28 of the International Humanitarian Law, which prohibits “targeting of medical units” and “attacks on medical units and personnel”. These violations fall into a very serious crime in accordance with the Article 8 of International Criminal Court Regulations.

The United Nations Security Council in its resolution no. 2286 in 2016 condemned such attacks and demanded that those responsible must be punished.

Eastern Ghouta, unfortunately, has also been a stage of chemical attacks. With those attacks, the 1925 Convention — which prohibits the use of chemical and biological weapons — and the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention were clearly violated. In response to the devastating chemical attack on civilians on Sept. 27, 2013, the Security Council decided that the Syrian government should destroy its chemical weapon stock.

Struggle to survive

Today, hundreds of thousands of civilians, who are suffering from hunger and lack of basic necessities are struggling to survive the bombs by taking shelter underground and expect humanity to save and protect them.

Warning papers were dropped from the air, asking civilians to flee Eastern Ghouta. But this is not a solution to the brutality and tragedy in the besieged region. Forcing people out of their places has never been a solution to any crisis in the world.

We remind all those who are protected by international humanitarian law, the civilians who are victims of this savagery, and the victims of war, and those who have lost the ability to fight, and we call all parties to act in the following ways:

1. All parties must respect and observe international humanitarian law, rules, and practices.

2. Conflicts must be halted for the passage of urgently needed life-saving humanitarian and medical assistance and for the provision of medical evacuations.

3. The basic needs of the civilians should be fulfilled.

4. All parties should take measures to facilitate the passage of objective, non-discriminatory humanitarian aid.

5. All parties shall respect the distinction between military and civilian targets and shall take maximum measures to avoid acts which would lead to unnecessary humanitarian sufferings.

6. Measures should be taken to protect medics, and medical facilities.

7. All measures should be taken to prevent the use of weapons which are prohibited by international humanitarian law conventions.–AA


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here