April 5, 2024

End impunity for chemical attacks

This message is from Amir, a White Helmets volunteer who survived the chemical attack in Douma in 2018, saved lives and helped document the evidence. Add your name to Amir’s call for a new international tribunal to hold the perpetrators of chemical attacks accountable by clicking here.

Seven years ago today, Assad’s regime killed 91 people, including 32 children, in an illegal chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun in northwest Syria. Almost exactly a year later, on 7th April 2018, I was in Douma when it too was attacked by the regime’s chemical weapons. I will never forget that day. As the head of the White Helmets in nearby Eastern Ghouta, I rushed to rescue the injured. Among the dead was my brother who I helped to bury alongside other victims in mass graves.

There wasn’t even time to grieve for him as we worked around the clock to save lives and document the atrocity. We collected samples and photographed entire families killed in the attack. This was incredibly dangerous work as we had to pass through regime and Russian checkpoints to recover evidence for international investigations.

Despite all our efforts, no one has been held accountable for these crimes. At least 336 chemical attacks have taken place in Syria since 2011, with the Assad regime responsible for about 98% of them and the rest by ISIS, according to The Global Public Policy Institute.

Now Syrian survivors, first responders and civil society leaders are calling on states to act collectively to create a new international tribunal to prosecute perpetrators of chemical attacks – to overcome Russia and China’s repeated vetoing of existing routes to justice through the UN.

That’s where you come in. I’m asking you and people around the world to sign the petition to demand your government takes moral leadership and joins others to establish a tribunal to stop chemical attacks happening again:

The regime’s crimes go beyond the use of chemical weapons. Intense bombing of chemical attack sites endangered rescue teams and destroyed evidence, and the families of victims have been arrested and tortured in detention centres. After attacks the regime spread disinformation to distort the truth and deny witness testimonies.

Failing to hold the regime to account encourages it to commit new crimes to cover up its chemical attacks and killing, and impunity encourages other criminal regimes to imitate them.

Together, we can make a new tribunal happen. Just last year, Syrian civil society groups, backed by people around the world, convinced the UN General Assembly to vote to establish an independent, international institution to clarify the fate and whereabouts of tens of thousands of missing and forcibly disappeared people in Syria.

Our call for a tribunal is the result of years of work by Syrian lawyers and civil society groups and your solidarity inspires us to continue seeking justice. Now help us send the message to governments that we need them to take actual steps towards accountability – based on all the international investigative reports proving the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons, and all the evidence my colleagues and I preserved.

Securing a route to justice would be a victory for the victims and the souls of those who have been killed. It would also send an important signal to Syrians that people haven’t forgotten us and it would demonstrate that breaking international laws against using chemical weapons will not go unpunished. Join me and demand that world leaders establish the Exceptional Tribunal for Chemical Attacks to hold all criminals responsible for these attacks to account:

Thank you,

P.S. After you’ve signed, please forward this email to friends and family to ask them to take action too, so that together we can put even more pressure on states after another year of impunity for the Khan Sheikhoun and Douma attacks.