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Discussion Session

On May 14, 2024, Adalaty Centre organized a discussion session with a group of Syrian women activists in public affairs.
The session included the following topics: the concept of justice in the Syrian context and the involvement of Syrian women in creating justice strategies, in addition to the achievements, opportunities, and obstacles in this context.

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Joint Statement by Syrian and International Civil Society Organizations and Victims’ Associations in support of investigating Bashar al-Assad for chemical attacks

The text of the statement:

We are Syrian and international civil society organizations and victims' associations united in our call for justice and accountability for the survivors and victims of chemical attacks in Syria. 

 

NGOs have documented hundreds of chemical weapons attacks in Syria. The United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have conducted detailed investigations into a limited number of attacks and repeatedly identified the Syrian regime, led by Bashar al-Assad, as the perpetrator. These constitute clear violations of international law, including international humanitarian law, international criminal law, and international human rights law.

 

We commend the efforts of French judges investigating the chemical attacks on civilians in Douma and Eastern Ghouta in August 2013, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 civilians. 

The investigating judges found there is a sufficient basis to issue arrest warrants for four senior officials in Syria’s government for alleged responsibility for the attacks: Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, his brother Major General Maher al-Assad, the de facto leader of the 4th Armoured Division, as well as General Ghassan Abbas, the Director of Branch 450 of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), and General Bassam al-Hasan, the Presidential Advisor for Strategic Affairs and liaison officer between the Presidential Palace and the SSRC.

The arrest warrants for Bashar al-Assad and other officials are a significant advance in our collective efforts for accountability.

 

However, we strongly oppose the French National Anti-Terror Public Prosecutor's Office decision to challenge the validity of the arrest warrant against Bashar al-Assad. The arrest warrants for the other officials are not contested and will remain in effect. The Public Prosecutor argues that as a sitting head of state, Bashar al-Assad is immune from trial and prosecution in France. 

 

Heads of State have been understood to be immune before foreign domestic courts. Recent decades have seen an erosion of state immunities and functional immunities under international law to prevent impunity for international crimes, notably war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is now time to also challenge the personal immunity of the sitting head of state for international crimes. In the context of Syrian chemical attacks, the international community and the UN Security Council have repeatedly demanded that all perpetrators must be held accountable.

Ongoing impunity for these crimes only serves to perpetuate the cycle of violence and suffering for victims and survivors. It undermines the international rule of law. 

 

This challenge by the Prosecutor’s Office is inconsistent with France’s leadership of the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons—a coalition of over 40 states and the European Union. It also contradicts the French government’s consistent stance demanding accountability for all perpetrators of chemical attacks in Syria. Most critically, it hampers the extraordinary efforts of victims and survivors who seek justice and redress through the French legal system.

 

We urgently call upon the French government to affirm its support for the independent judicial investigation of all those suspected of criminal responsibility for these atrocities, including Bashar al-Assad. The French government must make clear that it does not recognize Bashar al-Assad’s immunity for his role in chemical weapons attacks. France’s commitment to justice and the prohibition of chemical weapons must be unwavering.

 

Only through support for the French investigation and prosecution, and a concerted international effort to enforce the French arrest warrants, can there be redress for the victims, survivors, and their families. Only through support for the French investigation can the universal commitment to prohibit the use of chemical weapons and hold perpetrators accountable be effectively enforced. 

 

We call on France to convey a resolute message to the world: the use of chemical weapons is forbidden, and all perpetrators will face justice.

 

  1. Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM)

  2. Mnemonic / Syrian Archive 

  3. Open Society Justice Initiative 

  4. Civil Rights Defenders

  5. Adalaty 

  6. Adel Centre For Human Rights 

  7. Afrin Platform 

  8. Al-Ameen for Humanitarian Support 

  9. Amal Healing and Advocacy Center 

  10. Amal Organization 

  11. Amnesty International 

  12. Association of Victims of Chemical Weapons (AVCW) 

  13. Ayn Al Madina 

  14. Caesar Families Association (CFA) 

  15. Center for Enforcement of Human Rights International 

  16. Center for Justice and Accountability 

  17. Chemical Violations Documentation Center and Research (CVDCR) 

  18. Child Guardians 

  19. DAR Association for Victims of Forced Displacement 

  20. Derina Organization 

  21. Do Not Suffocate Truth Campaign 

  22. European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights 

  23. Families for Freedom Movement (FfF) 

  24. Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights 

  25. Free Syrian Lawyers Association (FSLA) 

  26. Guernica 37 

  27. Human Rights Guardians 

  28. Humanitarian Care Charity 

  29. HuMENA for Human Rights and Civic Engagement 

  30. International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute 

  31. International Commission of Jurists 

  32. International Federation for Human Rights 

  33. Jana Watan 

  34. Justice for Peace 

  35. Lawyers and Doctors for Human Rights (LDHR) 

  36. Local Administration Councils’ Unit (LACU) 

  37. Local Development and Small-Projects Support (LDSPS) 

  38. Mahabad Organization for Human Rights "MOHR" 

  39. Mazaya Organization Women 

  40. Mizan Organisation for Legal Research and Human Rights 

  41. Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies 

  42. NAJOON Organization 

  43. Pro-justice 

  44. REDRESS 

  45. Sadad Humanitarian Organization 

  46. Sans Menottes 

  47. SEWAR Organization 

  48. Sobh Cultural Team 

  49. Synergy Association for Victims 

  50. Syria Spring Team 

  51. Syrian American Council 

  52. Syrian Center for Community Development (SCCD) 

  53. Syrian Center for Legal Studies and Research (SCLSR) 

  54. Syrian Forum 

  55. Syrian Legal Development Programme (SLDP)

  56. TASTAKEL Women’s Organization 

  57. The Syria Campaign 

  58. The White Helmets 

  59. TRIAL International 

  60. Union of Free Syrian Students 

  61. Union of Revolutionary Bureaus (URB) 

  62. Women Now for Development (WND) 

  63. Women's Organization for Transitional Justice 

  64. Women's Support and Empowerment Center in Idlib 

  65. Zoom-In Organization 

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Training workshop

Adalaty Centre held a virtual training workshop during November 2023.

 

The workshop was rich in content and was titled: ‘Individual Memory Preservation’.  

 

It included discussions and interactive sessions provided by the journalist Yasmin Merei.

Workshop Objective:

 

Workshop attendees received training on analysing individual experiences and writing them in a narrative or essay format.

 

During the workshop, the women provided rich and inspiring content from their personal experiences or from their views of the reality in Syria since the outset of the revolution in 2011.

 

For two weeks after the workshop, follow-up sessions were provided by Ms Merei to review and proofread the texts with the participants. 

 

Workshop attendees included Syrian women who are leaders and activists within civil society organisations both within Syria and the diaspora.

 

Workshop Topics:

 

  • The concept of making memory.

  • The female participants and their perception of individual experiences in the time of conflict and the importance of documenting them in writing.

  • Women's writing, its features and writing from a feminist perspective.

  • The concept of narration, and how we may apply it to individual experiences.

  • Reviewing and analysing female/feminist writing of a documentary nature for diaries and individual experiences.

  • Principles of essay writing.

  • What distinguishes an opinion article which is written in the context of advocacy.

  • Presenting and analysing articles.

  • Examples of an article in a feminism sense and in the context of advocacy.

You can read the articles produced by the women in this workshop in both Arabic

and English in the ‘Articles’ section of the website.

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Training workshop

Adalaty Centre held a virtual training workshop between 3-12 June 2023 to 11 Syrian women.

 

The workshop was rich in content and was titled: ‘Individual Memory Preservation’.  

 

It included discussions and interactive sessions provided by the journalist Yasmin Merei.

Workshop Objective:

 

Workshop attendees received training on analysing individual experiences and writing them in a narrative or essay format.

 

During the workshop, the women provided rich and inspiring content from their personal experiences or from their views of the reality in Syria since the outset of the revolution in 2011.

 

For two weeks after the workshop, follow-up sessions were provided by Ms Merei to review and proofread the texts with the participants. 

 

Workshop attendees included Syrian women who are leaders and activists within civil society organisations both within Syria and the diaspora.

 

Workshop Topics:

 

  • The concept of making memory.

  • The female participants and their perception of individual experiences in the time of conflict and the importance of documenting them in writing.

  • Women's writing, its features and writing from a feminist perspective.

  • The concept of narration, and how we may apply it to individual experiences.

  • Reviewing and analysing female/feminist writing of a documentary nature for diaries and individual experiences.

  • Principles of essay writing.

  • What distinguishes an opinion article which is written in the context of advocacy.

  • Presenting and analysing articles.

  • Examples of an article in a feminism sense and in the context of advocacy.

  • The workshop was concluded by hosting the novelist and writer: Najwa Bin SheTwan from Libya

You can read the articles produced by the women in this workshop in both Arabic

and English in the ‘Articles’ section of the website.

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