Margaret Owen OBE

36 Faroe Road, London, W14 0EP

Telephone: 44 (0) 207 603 9733 

[email protected]


August 21st 2013


Urgent Plea to President Barack Obama, by Margaret Owen


Dear President Obama,


As lawyers and as women human rights defenders working internationally to protect all people from violations of international law, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing in civil war and sectarian violence, we implore you to use all available means, and harness all the resources of the UN and the international community to stop the massacres of innocent Kurdish men, women, and children in Syria. 

And to ensure that there is an urgent investigation of the recent murders and kidnappings, on Monday, the 5th of August, of over 350 women, children and elderly people in the Aleppo villages of Tel-Abeyd, Serekaniye, Tel- Aran, and Tel- Hasel.

Western Kurdistan, under the democratic leadership of the PYD has been a haven for those fleeing the violence of militias, such as Al Nusra, linked to Al Qaida in other parts of war torn Syria. The Kurds of Syria have been the one voice promoting the equal rights of all religious and ethnic minorities in a democratic and just new post-Assad Syria. 

It is the duty of the UN, the US, and the EU to support their peaceful and democratic initiatives, protect the Kurdish communities from these terrible atrocities and ensure that the perpetrators of these crimes are identified, arrested, and prosecuted for war crimes.

It is also essential that the true role of Turkey in arming those al Qaida militias, such as Al Nusra is investigated.  

Although the Turkish authorities are now in peace talks with the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, and also engaged in discourse with the PYD leader Salah Muslim, it is clear that the AKP government fears that the developing democratic autonomy of the Syrian Kurds could have implications for the their own Kurdish population against whom they have been waging a cultural and physical genocide for so many decades. Therefore it is vital that the investigations into the recent massacres reach into the source of the arms obtained by the murder squads, that appear to have been conveyed across the Turkish border into Syria.

Kurdish women and children are being used as human shields; stripped, raped, tortured, kidnapped and killed. 

We the undersigned plead for you, President Obama, elected on your commitment to uphold the rights and freedoms of all people, irrespective of race, religion or gender, to take urgent action now and lead an investigation into the terrible events of the last weeks.

Yours sincerely,

Margaret Owen O.B.E.  Barrister.  Member of the UK Bar Human Rights Committee, and Patron of Peace in Kurdistan.


Supported by:

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC

Baroness Greengross

Jean Lambert MEP

Jill Evans MEP

Caroline Lucas MP

June Jacobs, Vice Chair NAWO [National Alliance of Women’s Organisations] UK, 

Past President, ICJW [International  Council of Jewish Women]

Miriam James, archivist 

Shatha  Besarani, women’s rights activist and management committee member of the Iraqi Women’s League 

Ahlam Akram, Basira

Mary Davis, Visiting Professor of Labour History at Royal Holloway, University of London

Kariane Westrheim, University of Bergen, Chair of EUTCC

Maggie Bowden, General Secretary, Liberation

Kawa Besarani, human rights activist

Lesley Abdela, Senior Partner, Eyecatcher/Shevolution

Jillian Gordon, barrister at law, J.P.

Martha Jean Baker, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, lawyer

Rona Epstein, researcher in human rights law


For more information please see Peace in Kurdistan Campaign’s emergency statement attached or read: