Home Press releases & statements Syria/Hasakah: A Complaint to the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council on the Deliberate Interruptions of Water Supplies from Aluk Water Station

Syria/Hasakah: A Complaint to the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council on the Deliberate Interruptions of Water Supplies from Aluk Water Station

Signatory organizations call for an urgent UN-led investigation into the Aluk issue and demand Turkish authorities, as an occupier, to compliance with their international obligations

by bassamalahmed
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On 28 August 2020, Syrians for Truth and Justice Organization (STJ), the Kurdish Organization for Human Rights in Syria (DAD), PÊL – Civil Waves Organization, GAV for Relief and Development Organization, Ezdina, SHAR for Development Organization and ADEL Center for Human Rights, made a submission to five United Nations Special Procedures, concerning the dire human rights situation in the Northern of Syria. Specifically, the submitting organizations condemn the control and politicization of water resources by the Turkish occupation forces in Northern Syria. The submission was directed particularly to:

  1. The Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation;
  2. The Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing as a Component of the Right to an Adequate Standard of Living, and on the Right to Non-Discrimination;
  3. The Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food;
  4. The Special rapporteur on the Right of Everyone to the Enjoyment of the Highest Standard of Physical and Mental Health;
  5. The Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons,

The Turkish army, with the support of Syrian armed groups in the North have managed to seize control of the Aluk water station in October 2019 following the ‘Operation Peace Spring’. The Aluk water station is located near the village of Aluk Sharqi, 10 km east of Ras al-Ayn/ Serekaniye, in northeast Syria, with a pump capacity of approximately 175.000 m³ of drinking water per day. The station was rendered inoperable due to Turkish air and ground bombing.

After allowing the use of the water station for a brief period of time in late 2019, the Turkish forces turned off Aluk water station on 24 February 2020 and expelled workers from it without explaining the reasons. The station is a primary source of water, covering the needs of over 800,000 persons of the population in northeast Syria, especially the residents of the city of al-Hasaka, the town of Tell Tamer and their suburbs, including the IDP camps of al-Hawl, Areesha/al-Sad and Washo Kani/al-Twaina. As recent as July and August 2020, water was cut-off in Al-Hasakah city and its country side for over 22 days by the Turkish authorities and their affiliated non-state armed groups, only to be re-opened on 22 August 2020, following popular discontent and demands.

The submitting organizations remind the Turkish occupying authorities that as an occupier, Turkey is under the obligation to provide articles necessary to  support life in case the resources of the occupied territory are inadequate, and to refrain from the requisition of those articles, except for the use of the occupying forces and administration personnel, and then only if the requirements of the civilian population have been taken into account.[1] Furthermore, as an occupying power, Turkey is under an obligation to respect the provisions of the human rights treaties to which Syria is a party. Articles 11 and 12 of the Covenant on Economic, social and Cultural Rights include a right to water. Core obligations of Articles 11 and 12 will still in times of armed conflict, including the core obligation to the obligation to ensure access to the minimum essential amount of water, that is sufficient and safe for personal and domestic use.[2]

The submitting organization demand that the Turkish government neutralize the Aluk water station and spare it the political and military disputes, as well as to assign its administration to an independent specialized civilian team, and called for a UN-led investigation into the matter concerning the Aluk station, as to identify the perpetrators of this act, which constitutes a violation of the international laws and norms, which might amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

[1] International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (Fourth Geneva Convention), 12 August 1949, 75 UNTS 287, Article 55, available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b36d2.html

[2] UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), General Comment No. 15: The Right to Water (Arts. 11 and 12 of the Covenant), 20 January 2003, E/C.12/2002/11, available at:  https://www.refworld.org/docid/4538838d11.html

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