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The International Criminal Court in The Hague, the Netherlands: Prosecute  those responsible for crimes against humanity in Syria

The International Criminal Court in The Hague, the Netherlands: Prosecute those responsible for crimes against humanity in Syria

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This petition has been created by Beno K. and may not represent the views of the Avaaz community.
Beno K.
started this petition to
The International Criminal Court in The Hague, the Netherlands
Please read the complete petition below or go to our website. There we also explain some unknown aspects more in detail. You can find our site with most search engines by putting "The Syrian Petition" inside quotes.

Why this petition is so important ?

For Muslims, Christians, Jews or Humanists it is an obligation not to keep on standing at the side line when crimes are committed. Our believes and philosophies also oblige us to do whatever is in our power to prevent that crimes will happen.

As such we are obliged to react to what took place in Syria between 2011 and 2016. During that period one million people were killed in that country. At the same time was it the stage of countless crimes against the religious and humanitarian principles of our civilization.

If we fail to react, any would‐be dictator or military leader in Europe, America, Asia or Africa might be tempted to commit similar horrendous acts. This poses a major threat to peace, democracy and our future.

Particularly citizens of Western countries cannot say that the Syrian war is none of their business. Those terrible crimes were after all largely financed with European and American money.

By organizing this petition and at the same time effectively suing those responsible, we want to trigger the urgently needed society debate.

Signing this petition is thus just a first step.

But only as a movement will we be able to achieve our aims !

So please, as Muslim, Christian, Jew or Humanist : take your responsibility and participate in our movement.

That what happened in Syria may never happen again.

Thank you so much.


Below the complete petition and don't forget to visit our website !

By using the Ctrl + F keys, you can navigate through this document.


The Petition
Annex 1 One million deaths
Annex 2 Massive crimes against humanity
Annex 3 Total Warfare as principle cause of civilian casualties, refugees and crimes against humanity
Annex 4 Nazi concentration camp style crimes
Annex 5 Western leaders and the crime of omission
Annex 6 The European political facilitators
Annex 7 Non‐Political Facilitators

The Petition

In the name of humanity and civilization.

Up to one million civilian deaths due to indiscriminate bombing and systematic destruction of the medical care infrastructure, more than ten million refugees, thousands of political opponents murdered, vast city areas completely destroyed : the oppression since 2011 of the by the Arab Spring inspired Syrian democracy and human rights movement by the Assad regime turned into a genocidal carnage and a refugee crisis of epic dimensions. See also Annex 1, One million deaths.

The evidence of systematic and on a large scale committed war crimes and crimes against humanity is overwhelming. Their enormity represents a direct attack on humanity and civilization. See also Annex 2, Massive crimes against humanity.

To any decent human being, Humanist, Muslim, Christian, or Jew, keeping quiet and doing nothing, is no option, since it would make us silent complicit to those and future crimes.

"Not holding accountable those responsible (for the crimes against humanity) (...)would constitute a major menace to the future of humanity, civilization and world peace !"

Not holding accountable those responsible would after all give the message to perpetrators and facilitators that they may continue behaving in the same way. This would constitute a major menace to the future of humanity, civilization and world peace, since the same Syrian scenario might happen again anytime anywhere on the world.

"(...)we call (...)to bring to justice the perpetrators and the facilitators of those crimes."

That is why, as signatory of this petition, we call upon the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the Netherlands, to bring to justice the perpetrators and the facilitators of those crimes.

As possible main perpetrators we consider Putin, Assad and their military allies.

As military and political leaders, they are responsible for the strategy known as Total Warfare, which is the cause of 90 % of the approximately one million civilian casualties, millions of refugees, massive destruction of civilian infrastructure and crimes against humanity in Syria. See also Annex 3, Total warfare as principle cause of civilian casualties, refugees and crimes against humanity.

By military backing Assad, Putin and the other military allies of Assad equally bear responsibility for the Nazi concentration camp style extermination of thousands of political opponents committed by Assad's troops, which also represents a crime against humanity. See also Annex 4, Nazi concentration camp style crimes.

As possible perpetrators we consider those rebel groups who possibly committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, and the governments, rulers and leaders who are suspected of having financed and/or armed those groups. Especially the role that the governments of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar played in this respect, needs to be subjected to scrutiny.

As possible facilitators we do consider those politicians and businessmen who are possibly culpable of complicity to war crimes and crimes against humanity for reason of criminal omission. The crime of omission concerning war crimes and crimes against humanity being very well defined in International Humanitarian Law. See also Annex 5, The crime of Omission in International Humanitarian Law.

As possible main political facilitators we consider the political leaders of those countries of the European Union who constitute Russia's most important trading partners. They have like no other the political means to stop principal financial streams that help fuel Putin's and Assad's Total War in Syria.

They repeatedly commit grave breaches of international law by year after year largely ignoring the reports about the war crimes committed in Syria.

The measures and actions taken by those leaders in order to stop those crimes were and are not commensurate to their scale and the urgency of the situation. This makes those leaders probably guilty of complicity to those crimes for reason of criminal omission. See also Annex 6, The European political facilitators.

As possible political facilitators we consider the US political leaders.

They too repeatedly committed grave breaches of international law by year after year largely ignoring the reports about the war crimes perpetrated in Syria.

Seen the outstanding military and economic position of the United States of America in the world, the measures and actions taken by the United States of America in order to stop those crimes were and are not commensurate to their scale and the urgency of the situation . This makes those leaders probably guilty of complicity to those crimes for reason of criminal omission.

As possible non‐political facilitators we consider the business leaders of the huge energy companies that continue to cooperate with Russian partners. By doing so they help to finance Putin's military interventions and the crimes against humanity committed in their wake, which makes those leaders probably guilty of complicity to those crimes for reason of criminal omission. See also Annex 7, Non‐Political Facilitators.

"For these reasons (...) we ask (...) to investigate and eventually prosecute, among others, the following individuals (...)"

For these reasons, and without claiming to provide a complete list, we ask the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, to investigate and eventually prosecute, among others, the following individuals for their role in the crimes against humanity committed in Syria since 2011 and as described in Annexes 1, 2, 3, 4,5, 6 and 7 :

As possible main perpetrators :
Vladimir Putin (president of the Russian Federal Republic, factual leader of the military strategy of total warfare in Syria), Bashar al‐Assad (president of the Syrian Arab Republic), Xi Jinping (president of the People's Republic of China, military ally), Hassan Nasrallah (leader of Hezbollah, military ally), Ali Khamenei (supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, military ally)

As possible perpetrators :
Abu Mohammad al‐Julani (leader of Jabhat Fateh al‐Shamn former Al‐Nusra Front), Abu Bakr al‐Baghdadi (leader of Daesh also known as Isil), Tayyip Erdogan, (president of Turkey), Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (minister of foreign affairs, Turkey), Salman bin Abdulazis (King of Saudi Arabia), Prince Salman bin Sultan (Saudi Arabia), Prince Bandar bin Sultan (Saudi Arabia), Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (Emir of Qatar), Khalid bin Mohammad al‐Atiyah (Minister of State for Defence, Qatar), Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Qatar), Nouri al‐Maliki (vice‐president and former prime minister of Iraq), Fuad Masum (prime minister of Iraq)

As possible main political facilitators :

Angela Merkel (Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany), Frank‐Walter Steinmeier (Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany), François Hollande (President of France), Jean‐Marc Ayrault (Minister of Foreign Affairs of France), Theresa May (Prime Minister of the United Kingdom), Boris Johnson (Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the United Kingdom), Matteo Renzi (Prime Minister of the Italian Republic), Paolo Gentiloni Silveri, (Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy), Mark Rutte (Prime Minister of the Netherlands), Bert Koender (Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands)

As possible political facilitators :

Barack Obama (ex‐President of the United States), John Kerry (ex‐Secretary of State of the United States ), Joe Biden (ex‐Vice President of the United States and President of the Senate), Paul Ryan (ex‐Speaker of the United States House of Representatives)

As possible main non‐political facilitators :

Johannes Teysen (CEO of E.ON, Germany), Kurt Bock (CEO of BASF, Germany),Isabelle Kocher (CEO of ENGIE, France), Ben van Beurden (CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, Netherlands), Rainer Seele (CEO of OMV, Austria), Bob Dudley (CEO of BP, United Kingdom), Claudio Descalzi (CEO of Eni S.p.A, Italy), Marco Tronchetti Provera (CEO of Pirelli, Italy), Rex W. Tillerson (CEO of ExxonMobil, USA), John S. Watson (CEO of Chevron Corporation, USA), Patrick Pouyanné (CEO of Total, France)

Brussels, December 8, 2016



Annex 1

One million deaths

The figure of one million deaths is based on a scientifically developed method, that makes a distinction between direct (violent) deaths and indirect deaths.

1. The direct (violent) deaths

For the number of direct deaths, the only figures we have are those from NGO's and international organizations. As such, The Syrian Center for Policy Research (SCPR) estimated at the beginning of 2016 the direct death toll at 470,000 people. Staffan de Mistura, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, cited around the same period the figure of approximately 400,000.

December 2016, the most brutal war year so far came to an end. That is why we assume that by that time the number of direct deaths was around 500,000.

This high death toll is corroborated by historical comparison.

Between 1992 and 1995, during the 3.75 years of the civil war in Bosnia‐Herzegovina, approximately 1 % of the civilian population got killed. It is one of the best studied civil wars of recent history. Many crimes committed resemble the ones that we have been witnessing in Syria. The shelling of cities, the sieges, the mass murders against opponents,...

On the other hand you had also some distinct differences.

The Syrian war is lasting now for almost double as long, knows a large scale use of air bombardments, the use of chemical weapons, a larger scale of destruction of urban areas, a larger number of people submitted to sieges... All this is an indication that the Syrian war knows a higher intensity and that the percentage civilian casualties might be higher than one percent .

A fact that is supported by another finding.

In the Bosnian war the number of killed non‐civilians was almost double the one of civilians. In the Syrian war the available body counts tell us a different story, the civilian population suffering double the losses of the non‐civilian. A pattern that rather corresponds to the Russian‐Chechen wars (Dec 94 ‐ Aug 96 and Sept 99 ‐ May 2000 and its never investigated or prosecuted crimes against humanity.

Within 2 years and 6 months the Russian army killed between 5 and 10 % of the civilian population. A circumstance attributed to the reckless air bombardments and shelling of densely populated urban areas.

Taking the length of the Syrian conflict (6 years) into consideration, and the fact that the Syrian war knows extensive use of air bombardments, the figure of 500,000 violent deaths, which represents approximately 2.5 % of the civilian population, has thus a high degree of probability, but might even be an underestimation.

2. The indirect deaths

Epidemiologists, demographers, statisticians and human rights organizations have been working together in recent decades to establish scientific methods to estimate the indirect impact of wars on the population.

Not only was this necessary out of moral considerations : from that point of view is the distinction between a violent and non‐violent death irrelevant. All that matters is that a number of people died who would otherwise still be alive if armed violence had not ravaged their communities.

But it was also necessary in order to better organize relief efforts and assess whether and to what extent international humanitarian law had been violated.

When a population is intentionally cut of from supply of medication, clean drinking water, food, heating, when hospitals, medical infrastructure are intentionally destroyed...though the people who died as a consequence from hardships and war related sicknesses did not die a violent dead, their deaths were brought by intentionally, which constitutes a war crime.

The studies that have been made from recent conflicts show that far more people die from indirect consequences than from direct violence. In general the ratio is situated between 3 and 15 indirect deaths for every direct death.

In the Iraq 2003‐2007 war this ratio was much lower : 1.7 indirect deaths for every direct death.

Variation in the ratio of indirect to direct deaths depends on the pre‐conflict level of development of the country, the duration of the fighting, the intensity of combat, access to basic care and services, and humanitarian relief efforts.

We assumed in our calculation a ratio of 1 indirect death for every direct death, which would get us to a figure of 500,000 indirect deaths.

This is a very prudent estimate when we compare the brutality of the Syrian war with its numerous sieges that locked up hundreds of thousands of people, the systematic destruction of hospitals, medical infrastructure, drink water stations, etc...to the Iraq war.

Note : this part was largely written based on articles from https://www.genevadeclaration.org

3. Conclusion

One million deaths as a consequence of the Syrian war is thus absolutely a figure with a high probability value, but doesn't even represent the worst case scenario : the actual number of victims could even be higher.


Annex 2

Massive crimes against humanity

In Syria, since the Assad regime started suppressing the Arab Spring inspired democracy movement, crimes against humanity are committed on a systematic manner and on a scale never seen in the Eurasian region since the invasion of Russia by Adolf Hitler.

The moment Putin took factual leadership of Assad's military campaign in September 2015, the scale and intensity of those crimes only worsened.

Assad, Putin and their military allies are held accountable for 90 % of the crimes against humanity committed in Syria.

As a result of those crimes, according to French medics up to 1 million people perished and 10 million people were turned into refugees, causing Europe's biggest humanitarian disaster and refugee crisis since World War 2.

Documented crimes against humanity, committed by Putin's and Assad's troops and their military allies in the wake of the total war strategy (see Annex 3), without pretending to list all of them, are :

* famine as weapon of war : whole cities and regions are under siege, deprived from food, drinking water and medical aid. Hundreds of thousands of people are under threat of death by starvation.

* systematic hampering of humanitarian aid convoys so that food, water or medical aid does not reach in time or does not reach at all those in need

* systematic bombing of places where people get food : market places, bakeries

* systematic bombing of hospitals in East‐Aleppo and elsewhere

* systematic bombing of water stations and electric stations

* bombing of schools

* bombing of aid convoys and facilities

* the use of indiscriminate weapons that terrorize the civilian population and cause widespread destruction : bunker buster bombs, barrel bombs, cluster munition, thermite bombs, napalm, chemical weapons...

* double‐tap attacks : after bombing a certain area, bombing a second time the relief workers


Documented crimes against humanity in the wake of the extermination of the Syrian political opposition :


* the Nazi concentration camp style murdering of thousands of opposition members (see Annex 4)



Annex 3

Total Warfare as principle cause of civilian casualties, refugees and crimes against humanity


The tactics applied by Putin, Assad and their allies in Syria is called total war. Total war, because one doesn't only aim the military adversary, but also the civilian population living in the areas controlled by this adversary. In the 21st century it was first applied by Putin and the Russian military in Grozny, Chechnya.

It's main objective is the collapse of civil society hoping it might force the military adversary to retreat or surrender.

In order to achieve this goal the perpetrators systematically, repeatedly and recklessly attack and/or destroy schools, hospitals, water facilities, electricity plants, render food provision and relieve efforts impossible or disturb them in a way that it increases significantly the risks of dying and suffering of rescuers and the civilian population.

Total Warfare includes also the large scale use of indiscriminate weapons and 24/7 bombing, which are meant to induce maximum destruction and terror.

The total war unleashed by Putin and Assad in Syria is the principle cause of the hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties, the millions of refugees and the massive destructions that were inflicted upon Syrian cities and villages.

Because it mainly targets the civilian population and infrastructure, Total Warfare as a military strategy is a crime against humanity on its own and the principle cause of crimes against humanity.


Annex 4

Nazi concentration camp style crimes


One of the main causes of death in the Nazi concentration camps was malnutrition and maltreatment.

In 2014, documents were smuggled out of Syria, proving that the Assad regime had turned prisons into actual concentration camps, killing opponents on an almost industrial scale in similar conditions.

The documents were named after the code name of the Syrian defector of the Assad regime who smuggled them out : the Caesar‐files. They contain pictures of at least 6786 victims who died in a 2 years time span between 2011 and 2013.

For a more detailed discussion, please read the report of Human Rights Watch, If the Dead Could Speak, Mass Deaths and Torture in Syria's Detention Facilities, here : https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/syria1215_4upload.pdf

Amnesty International published a report on August 18, 2016 documenting the killing of more than 17000 political prisoners. Please read the report of Amnesty International, Torture, Disease and death in Syria's Prisons, here : https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde24/4508/2016/en/


Annex 5

The crime of omission in International Humanitarian Law

The first who mentioned the possibility of complicity for reason of criminal omission to the crimes against humanity committed in Syria, was the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, in 2014.

The crime of omission means in International Humanitarian Law pretty much the same as in ordinary criminal law : the failure to act knowing that this failure will cause the crime to happen. Those found guilty for this reason might be sentenced to imprisonment or other punishments.

Five conditions have to be fulfilled in order to be recognized as Crime of Omission. As probably first, we publish in how far they apply to the behavior of Western leaders during the Syrian civil war.

1. The accused must have had a legal duty to act : check !

The Geneva Conventions, signed and ratified by most Western countries, require that States do all in their power to make stop genocidal massacres, mass torture and killing of prisoners, systematic bombing of schools, bakeries, hospitals, use of indiscriminate weapons against the civilian population, like barrel bombs, chemical weapons.....

The failure of international organizations like the United Nations or the European Union to act, does not exempt the individual countries from these obligations.

2. The accused must have had the ability to act : check !

States have several peaceful tools at their disposal to fulfill the duty "to do all in their power": (i) diplomatic protest, (ii) imposing sanctions (iii) in case of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions : vest universal jurisdiction in their courts...

The Western leaders had absolutely the ability to use those tools.

3. The accused must have had an elevated degree of concrete influence : check !

International observers agree that Assad's war machine was essentially kept afloat by Putin's financial and military support. Knowing that Europe alone finances through its oil and gas trade with Russia, 35 % of the Russian federal budget, it is not exaggerated to postulate that Assad's war machine was essentially fueled with European money.

This gives Europe definitely an elevated degree of concrete influence.

The economic ties between the US and Russia are dwarfed by the European ones, so US' possibilities to exercise pressure by means of economic sanctions were much lesser. From the other side, through its outstanding diplomatic and economic position as a world power, the US has other peaceful means to exercise pressure.

4. The accused failed to act, (...)with awareness (...) that the consequences would occur : check !

The US and Europe repeatedly breached international law by year after year largely ignoring the reports about the war crimes committed in Syria.

They did not order their courts to investigate and they only imposed sanctions on the weakest party to the conflict, the Assad regime, and spared completely those arming, financing and participating in those crimes : Russia and Iran.

Western leaders did this in full "awareness" of the consequences. Since the conflict is lasting for six years, they were fully aware that the lack of timely and appropriate pressure would lead to the continuation of the atrocities.

5. The failure to act resulted in the commission of the crime : check !

This became all too obvious from September 2015 onwards, when Putin decided to engage his army more. It heralded an unprecedented intensity in air bombardments and crimes against humanity committed in their wake, culminating in the as yet worst period of the Syrian war, the assault on East‐Aleppo end November/beginning December 2016.

Our conclusion :

Western leaders committed repeatedly breaches of International Humanitarian Law by not undertaking whatever is in their power to let the crimes in Syria stop. This renders them to our humble opinion possibly guilty of complicity for reason of criminal omission. Reason why we ask the Court to investigate the part the cited politicians and businessmen played and to eventually prosecute them.

On our web page you will find a more detailed discussion of this subject.


Annex 6

The
possible European political facilitators

The incredible scale of crimes against humanity committed in Syria is well documented and known by all political responsible actors in Europe.

It is also known that these cruelties could not have been committed without the massive military and financial support of Putin.

That Putin himself could not have engaged in two wars (Ukraine and Syria) without the enormous financial contribution from Europe, is lesser known.

Europe finances through its gas and oil trade with Russia 35 % of the Russian Federal Budget, and through this finances indirectly Assad and Putin's Total War strategy. It is this strategy that, measured by the number of victims, is held responsible for 90% of the crimes committed during the Syrian war.

But Europe refuses obstinately and pitilessly to take any measure to exercise appropriate economic pressure on Putin, and thus indirectly on Assad.

Instead Europe and its leaders repeatedly chose to breach international law. Year after year the reports about the war crimes committed in Syria were largely ignored.

This became again very clear on the European Foreign Affairs Council meeting of October 17, 2016.

Contrary to public declarations and neglecting completely Putin's role in the increase of documented war crimes and crimes against humanity in previous months, not one European country asked officially to take sanctions against Russia.

Some argue that Europe depends for its gas and oil supply on Russia, and for this reason cannot act.

This is however a very poor argument. There is enough oil and gas supply on world markets. If at all, an import stop for Russian oil and gas would have only triggered minor short term shortages.

Our conclusion is strait forward :

In the light of the genocidal scale of the crimes against humanity committed in Syria, the measures taken by the European Union and/or the governments of its member states, were not commensurate to their scale and the urgency of the situation.

The failure of the European Union to react does not exempt the individual governments from their responsibilities. That is why we call upon the International Criminal Court to investigate the role the cited European political leaders played and eventually prosecute them. This for two reasons. On the one hand for their possible breaches of international law and on the other hand for their possible complicity to the crimes committed in Syria for reason of criminal omission.


Annex 7

Possible Non‐Political Facilitators

We know since the Nuremberg trials, that business leaders too have moral obligations.

Those we name in the petition represent Europe's and America's biggest energy companies and at the same time Russia's most important energy partners.

These companies are so huge that they dwarf many countries in their economic importance. To give you an idea : the American energy giant Exxonmobil had in 2010 a revenue of almost 370 billion dollars. Syria had at the same time only a revenue of 60 billion dollars for the whole country. And here we only talk about Exxonmobil. But almost every Western country has one or more companies like Exxonmobil.

Since these multinationals are as huge as countries, often considered as systemic, too big to fail, their directors have easy access to their political leaders. Their influence and lobbying power can hardly be overestimated.

We know for sure that they lobbied apart and in group in order to secure their economic interests in Russia.

We also know for sure that the Obama administration pressured Congress not to issue too strict sanctions against Russia. European governments acted pretty much in the same way. Given the genocidal scale of the crimes committed in Syria, a highly immoral behavior.

As leaders of companies as huge as countries, it is impossible that the cited businessmen were not aware that their trade with Russia facilitates Putin's role in the large scale crimes against humanity committed in Syria and elsewhere.

As human beings with moral conscience these business leaders could and should have stopped trade with Russia themselves.

For this reason we call upon the International Criminal Court to also investigate and eventually prosecute the cited business leaders for their possible complicity to the crimes against humanity committed in Syria for reason of criminal omission.