Seventyfive women’s organizations and individuals across the world have called on the United Nations Secretary-General and United Nations Women Commission to take action regarding Turkey’s cross-border operations in Sinjar, Makhmour, and Rojava.

In the open letter the women have sent, they asked the UN to mobilize its mechanisms.

Women state in the letter that “Afrin (March 2018) and Ras al-Ayn (October 2019) are ‘occupied’; Turkish armed drones permanently fly over North-East Syria, Sinjar, and Makhmour, creating an atmosphere of fear and deep insecurity; civilian infrastructure, cars, and houses are attacked without warning and people flee their land because they fear further Turkish attacks and occupation.”

The full letter reads as follows:

To the UN Secretary-General,

To UN Women,


Turkey’s aggression against Kurds reached a new stage in 2017 when it started its airstrikes against North East Syria, the Yazidi homeland Sinjar, and the Camp Makhmour in North Iraq, where more than 11,000 Kurdish refugees live. 


Since then, Turkey has occupied the mainly Kurdish populated cities of Afrin (March 2018) and Serêkaniyê/Ra’s al-‘Ain (October 2019). Turkish armed drones permanently fly over North East Syria, Sinjar, and Makhmour, creating an atmosphere of fear and deep insecurity. Civilian infrastructure, cars, and houses are attacked without warning. People flee their land because they fear further Turkish attacks and occupation. 


Turkey justifies its extrajudicial killings, drone attacks and military occupation operations as ‘self-defense’ in terms of Article 51 of the UN Charter. The Turkish state claims that its national security has been, and is, under direct threat from North East Syria, Sinjar and Makhmour. Ankara is moreover legitimising the current occupation of Northern Syrian territory on the border and further plans to occupy the border region in Northern Iraq thus ‘ensuring the border security of Turkey’. It instrumentalises the armed conflict with the PKK for further military occupation and political intervention in Northern Iraq, which further destabilises the situation there and deepens insecurity. 


Suborganisations of the UN themselves regularly produce reports on the security situation in Syria as well as in Iraq. Neither North East Syria nor the Yazidi people of Sinjar nor the Makhmour Refugee Camp pose a security threat to Turkey. On the contrary, the Turkish military commits human rights violations, extrajudicial killings based on drone technology, and airstrikes against civilian and military targets in North East Syria, Sinjar, and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq/ Northern Iraq with impunity. All this is done in the name of UN Charter. 


We the undersigned do not accept a UN-backing of Turkish aggression against Kurdish people in North East Syria and Northern Iraq. We reject Turkey’s claim of self-defence and underline that the Turkish state is the attacker. We call on the UN to condemn Turkish aggression against the Kurds and mobilise its mechanisms to stop Turkey’s cross-border attacks on North East Syria and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq/ Northern Iraq. 


16 May 2022



  1. Kongra Star (Star Congress), confederation of women’s organisations in Rojava, North East Syria


  1. Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, AANES, Women’s Coordination, North East Syria


  1. Benedetta Argentieri, journalist and filmmaker, Italy


  1. Susanne Bader, European Coordinator of World Women’s Conference of Grassroots Women, Germany


  1. Clare Baker, International Officer of UNITE the union, UK


  1. Zahraa Banaho, human rights activist, West Sahara


  1. Trude Bennett, public health organizer, USA


  1. Janet Biehl, independent author, artist, translator, editor, USA


  1. Vicky Blake, UCU President, UK


  1. Baroness Christine Blower, House of Lords, UK


  1. Center for Research and Protection of Women’s Rights, North East Syria


  1. Debbie Bookchin, journalist and author, USA


  1. Debbie Brennan, Radical Women Australia


  1. Democratic Syria Council (MSD), women’s office, North East Syria


  1. Democratic Way Party, Women’s Branch, Morocco


  1. Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory, University of California, USA


  1. Orsola Casagrande, journalist, Basque Country


  1. Vandana Chaudry, Associate Professor, City University of New York, USA


  1. Louise Christian, lawyer, Honorary Vice-Chair of Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, UK


  1. Nora Cortinas, co-founder of Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, Argentina


  1. Molly Crabapple, artist and author, USA


  1. Angela Davis, author and Distinguished Professor Emerita, University of California, USA


  1. Mary Davis FRSA, Visiting Professor of Labour History at Royal Holloway University of London, UK


  1. Francesca Degiuli, Associate Professor, Fairleigh Dickinson University, USA


  1. Barbara Ehrenreich, writer and organiser, USA


  1. Silvia Federici, author and Professor Emerita of Social Science, Hofstra University, USA


  1. Lindsey German, Convenor Stop the War Coalition, UK


  1. Helen Gilbert, Radical Women U.S., USA


  1. Dr Sarah Glynn, writer, France


  1. Ozlem Goner, Associate Professor, College of Staten Island and Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA


  1. Saloua Guiga, FemWise-Africa Tunisia section, Tunisia


  1. Rahila Gupta, writer and journalist, UK


  1. Dr Hiba Haddadin, General Director of the Foundation for Gender Studies and Consultations, Jordan


  1. Jean Halley, Professor, City University of New York, USA


  1. Dr Basma Hamdi, Secretary General of the International Federation of African Women, Tunisia


  1. Dr Choman Hardi, Director of Center for Gender and Development Studies at American University of Iraq, Sulaimani, KRG


  1. Ava Homa, writer, journalist and activist, Canada/USA


  1. Dr Amber Huff, Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, UK


  1. Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, House of Lords, UK


  1. Hosu Kim, Associate Professor, City University of New York, USA


  1. Neemat Koko, Director of the Center for the Gender Studies, Sudan


  1. Claudia Korol, journalist and member of Feministas del Abya Yala, Argentina


  1. Andrea Koskondi, General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU) Executive Committee Member, UK


  1. Şeyda Kurt, author, Germany


  1. Dr Carol Mann, Director of Women in War, France


  1. Joya Misra, Professor, University of Massachusetts, USA


  1. Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, Green Party Member of the House of Lords, UK


  1. Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM), Women’s Office, North East Syria


  1. North East Syria Women’s Council, North East Syria


  1. Kazhal Nouri, author and organizer, Netherlands


  1. Shamiran Odisho, Secretary of the Iraqi Women’s Association, Iraq


  1. Margaret Owen, O.B.E., President Widows for Peace through Democracy, UK


  1. Julia Pascal, playwright, director, journalist, UK


  1. Maxine Peake, actress and writer, UK


  1. Rosalind Petchesky, Distinguished Professor Emerita of Political Science, Hunter College & the Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA


  1. Louise Regan, National Officer, Membership and Equality, National Education Union, UK


  1. Khadija Riyadi, activist, winner of the United Nations Human Rights Prize, Morocco


  1. Tiba Saad Abdelkarim, feminist movement Intadifi, Iraq


  1. Rita Segato, feminist academic and Professor Emerita at the University of Brasilia, Argentina


  1. Dr Maha Al Sekban, President of the Women Human Rights Center, Iraq


  1. Marina Sitrin, lawyer, author, and Associate Professor of Sociology, State University of New York, USA


  1. Sabah Shuaib, coordinator of the Peace Circles Network in the Libyan East, Libya


  1. Prof. Radha D’Souza, Westminster University, UK


  1. Gloria Steinem, writer and organizer, USA


  1. Dr Greta Sykes, writer and artist, UK


  1. Syria Future Party Women’s Branch, North East Syria


  1. Syria Women’s Council, Syria


  1. Atika Al Taiif, Democratic Way Party, Morocco


  1. Shavanah Taj, General Secretary Wales TUC, UK


  1. Meredith Tax, writer and organizer, USA


  1. Saadia Toor, Associate Professor, City University of New York, USA


  1. Professor Kariane Westrheim, Chair of EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC), Norway


  1. Debra Winger, actress and producer, USA


  1. Jan Woolfe, writer, Member of Theatre Committee – Writers Guild, UK


  1. Zenoobya Women’s Gathering, North East Syria