التقرير الاسبوعي ـ عفرين تحت الاحتلال ـ181 خاص
مترجم إلى اللغة الانكليزية
Afrin under occupation (181) special
Four years of aggression and occupation…violations, war crimes, crimes against humanity and a comprehensive demographic change
The observer of the situation in the Kurdish-Syrian region of Afrin for four years is well aware of the goals that Turkey sought from its aggression on it on January 20, 2018, using various types of ground and air weapons, and the recruitment of about 20,000 mercenaries from the militias associated with the Syrian-Brotherhood opposition coalition, and consequently, it has been effectively occupied since March 18, 2018., under blatant arguments and fatwas, in order to strike at the presence and role of the Kurds in Syria and cut the way for them to reach their legitimate national rights and ignite strife between them and the Arabs and other Syrian components.
Afrin has turned into an unsafe area, due to chaos, lawlessness, drug industry and trade, public corruption, violations, crimes, and the systematic demographic change that affected the Kurds – its original inhabitants; After it was relatively safe and stable during six years under the previous Autonomous Administration, as it was also witnessing a natural development in various fields.
War crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed against people, trees and stones in the region, which are considered grave violations of international humanitarian law, while the international community is silent about them.
Among them we mention the following:
– Intentional killings, massacres and attacks against civilians:
Mass massacres were committed such as in (Rubaria, Maabatli, Kobleh, Basuta, Hekejeh, Afrin Hospital, Barbaneh, Jenderes, Feriryeh, Mahmudiya neighborhood, Yalanquz…) and convoys of civilians were targeted during the attack on Afrin, as the number of victims of the invasion reached to approximately /300/ civilian martyrs, including dozens of children and women, and more than /1,000/ civilians wounded, not to mention the martyrs and wounded of the People’s Protection Units (YPG-YPJ), Asayish forces, and volunteers who rose up to defend the area.
While about /200/ civilians were martyred victims – whom we were able to document- due to armed robberies, torture, car explosions, mines and physical liquidation during kidnappings, executions and others since March 18, 2018 until today, as well as cases of forced deaths due to persecution and abuse or because of the difficult living conditions imposed by the occupation in its various manifestations.
– Slavery and the impoverishment of civilians:
The occupation authorities have deliberately and are still causing general paralysis in all aspects of life, closing the doors of work to the people of Afrin, in addition to confiscating and looting their property, money and resources, and robbing their seasons “olive, grain, fruit, sumac, grape leaves…” and squandering their animal wealth, (Livestock and poultry) equivalent to /20/ million dollars in the first year, not to mention the losses of other types of animals (horses, mules, donkeys, honey apiaries), in addition to stopping the work of poultry farms, or the destruction of some of them permanently, due to bombing and thefts; The losses of the olive seasons in (2018, 2019, 2020, 2021) – the main source of livelihood – amounted to approximately $250 million, in addition to imposing ransoms and various continuous financial fines on them, as well as employing and harnessing some of them without paying them wages.
And as an indication of the destruction of the economic structure in Afrin, only 50 out of 850 sewing workshops that fed the Syrian markets and some neighboring countries remained after the occupation and operated at their minimum production levels, as losses in the industrial and economic field in general are large, and the percentage of Unemployment is high and poverty is widespread.
– Population deportation and demographic change:
The forced displacement by hostilities during the war of more than 250 thousand indigenous people, and the prevention of the return of about 200 thousand of them from the areas of displacement and inside Syria, due to the closure of the occupation authorities Afrin crossings, and the prevention of displaced people from returning to it, so they remained displaced in the areas of displacement (the towns of al-Nubul and al-Zahra and the villages and towns of al-Shahba – north of Aleppo…), including those who fled to Aleppo and the areas of Kobani and al-Jazeera, at the time, the Syrian authorities have also closed all transport corridors to them and they remain closed.
Nearly 500,000 people from the families of the mercenary gunmen in Turkey, the families of those who came from Ghouta of Damascus, the countryside of Homs, Hama, Idlib, Aleppo and others, were resettled in Afrin and its environs, and they were housed in houses, shops, and properties of the indigenous people, as well as in random camps, and exemplary settlement villages were built for them, two of them were already opened “Basma, Kuwait al-Rahma” near the villages of “Shadereh-Shirawa, Khalta-Mount Lilon”; This constituted a major change for the demographic structure in the region, where the Kurdish presence decreased to less than 25% of the current residents in the region, while their percentage before the invasion was more than 95%.
Dozens of individuals and families returned during the year 2021 AD to their homes, and they were subjected to material extortion, the imposition of financial ransoms, investigations and imprisonment for some of them, and some of them were unable to recover their property; The demographic change also included several other domains, in addition to the daily pressures exerted against the remaining Kurds in the region, in order to push them to leave their land and property and to achieve continuous forced migration; Whereas this change amounts to ethnic cleansing of a distinct ethnicity.
– Torture, inhuman or degrading treatment:
The remaining residents of Afrin are subjected to daily insults, blackmail and provocation, kidnappings and large-scale arbitrary arrests, as most of the kidnapped and detainees were subjected to torture, which is a routine practice, including women, minors and the elderly, and some of them were threatened with slaughter, according to published videos; The fate of about /500- an estimated number/ of them is still unknown, and the families of most of the released ones have paid fines or financial ransoms that sometimes amounted to /20/ thousand dollars.
This, and during the second half of the year 2020 AD to the end of 2021, the occupation authorities released detainees who were forcibly hidden between (2 – 3,5) years, after their health conditions deteriorated, which confirms the existence of secret prisons, the most famous of which is the notorious Al-Ra’i prison, the prison whose file has not yet been closed, and in which about 15 citizens died without handing over the bodies of most of them to their families or informing them of their deaths, as they were buried in a secret place; There is a fear for the lives of some of them because of the diseases they suffer from or from the execution of the death sentence against them. Also, most of those released do not dare to talk about the secret prisons and the conditions they went through.
– Cultural and national persecution:
What Turkish officials, soldiers, militia leaders and members have repeatedly stated about the infidelity of the Kurds and accusing them of separatism and terrorism, and the issuance of fatwas by the sheikhs and legislators of the “revolution and jihad” to loot their property and damage them, mainly reflect racist and chauvinistic hostility towards them, as oppression and persecution are systematically affecting them, at a time It favors the recruiters over them, and even pushes them to attack the Kurds and their property.
Not to mention fighting the Kurdish culture and language, changing the landmarks and names of villages, towns, and public squares, seeking to dismantle the social fabric, preventing the Kurds from celebrating their national day Nowruz, and attacking their symbols, such as the destruction of the Kawa statue and the removal of the Nowruz roundabout monument and changing it to the “Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi” roundabout, in addition to forcing the people of Afrin and its recruiters to issue personal identification cards granted by the occupation authorities in Turkish and Arabic, in order to melt everyone into a new societal crucible and a “new Ottoman” identity.
– Religious persecution:
The Yazidis were subjected to numerous violations, from displacement, killing, torture, looting, preventing them from practicing their religious rituals and celebrating their annual holidays, as well as forcing some of them to pray in mosques, and mosques were built in some of their villages to defy them, and their shrines and cemeteries were tampered with and many of them were vandalized; The only Christian church was robbed, looted, and closed down, and despite the small number of Christians, none of them dared to speak of their religion; Worse than that, some mosques were bombed during the aggression, and the belongings of some of them were stolen, including carpets, copper pots, electrical and audio equipment; As Afrin is known for its open social character and renounces fanaticism in religious beliefs, the invaders continue to bring religious and social extremist practices and work to impose them on the indigenous population of all religious affiliations, especially there is an active religious movement in the region according to the Ottoman-Brotherhood style and under the direct supervision of the Turkish “Diyanet Endowment”.
The manifestations of celebration and rejoicing during the Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha holidays are also absent from the people of Afrin in general, amid feelings of sadness and separation and an atmosphere of persecution and tyranny.
-Turkification, religious extremism, and neo-Ottoman ideas:
The Turkish government continues the policy of Turkification and the dissemination of religious extremism and neo-Ottoman ideas in Afrin, among young people and children in particular, through media campaigns and under many names (charities, cultural and religious societies, universities, institutes and private schools, Turkish cultural centers, Imam al-Khatib schools, youth activities, revival Turkish events with the massive raising of the Turkish flag and imitation of the insignia of gray wolves, training courses…) and adopting ideological curricula and imposing the teaching of the Turkish language, in addition to fighting the culture and heritage of the region through many changes and violations, under the direction and supervision of Turkish intelligence. Likewise, attempts continue to change the identity and culture of the region, sabotage and steal its cultural property and erase its history, such as transforming the Roman pyramidal shrine of the “Nabi Hori” and the mosque next to it into a Turkish-Ottoman landmark; Which constitutes a grave breach of the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, May 14, 1954.
-Extensive property destruction and seizure:
Since the first day of the aggression, residential houses and public and private properties have been destroyed, and the invaders have resorted to looting houses and confiscating property and money.
The 18th day of March 2018 was called “Locust Day”, when the city of Afrin was subjected to widespread thefts of shops, warehouses, homes, and machinery in full view of the world, where looting, robbery and armed robbery continue to date, and on a large scale.
Most of the olive presses, pyrene and soap factories, clothing workshops, shops and warehouses in the industrial zone were robbed or their owners paid large sums of money to the militias in order to protect their facilities or recover their stolen goods, they also pay monthly royalties.
The seizure of shops, homes, real estate and agricultural lands continues, especially those belonging to the absentees and some of those present as well, and through many tricks and methods; Which in total exceeds half of the property of the people of Afrin.
The militants and those who have been resettled there also refrain from evacuating houses and shops belonging to the people of Afrin, despite their repeated demands and filing numerous complaints, in addition to the expulsion of some Kurdish families from their houses or the houses of their relatives in order to accommodate the recruiters instead.
– Olive oil theft:
The Turkish Agricultural Credit Cooperatives, which was granted exceptional powers, issued a list of low prices for the purchase of olive oil from the Afrin region during the past four seasons, which is sold abroad at exorbitant prices, to generate huge profits for Turkey and its collaborators, and to finance the mercenary terrorist militias, as there is a Turkish commercial center (Headquartered at the “Rafa`atiya” olive press – Jenderes) seized the purchase of quantities amounting to about 80% of the total oil production, and they were transported by trucks through the new “Hammam” crossing to Hatay – Turkey without passing through the free zone in the city of “Kara Khan”, that is, without entering into the “import” process, even though it comes from another country, so that the olive oil is processed and sold abroad under the title “Made in Turkey”, especially since representatives of cooperatives went to America to promote the olive oil.
-Prisoners, unlawful confinement and enforced disappearance:
The Turkish army has not disclosed the number of its prisoners and their fate, and the militias have private prisons, and about /500- an estimated number/ of detainees are still forcibly hidden and their fate is unknown, and the testimonies of some of those released indicate that about 1/500/ people were detained in the Al-Ra’i prison under torture, and in harsh conditions, most of them were released; Some are still in the hands of armed gangs as kidnappers, whose release is contingent upon the payment of large financial ransoms by their relatives, or their lives have been eliminated.
During the second half of the year 2020 AD until the end of 2021, the occupation authorities released forcibly disappeared detainees between /2-3.6/ years, which confirms the existence of secret prisons, especially that video published on 5/28/2020 AD during the launch of the “Jaysh al-Islam” militias an attack on the headquarters of the “Al-Hamzat Division” (formerly the Asayish building) in Horsh Mahmudiya – Afrin, and /11/ women appeared in it, who had been absent for two years.
-Random and arbitrary arrests:
In addition to kidnapping, detention and waves of arrest, there are raids and random arrests, on charges of the relationship with the previous Autonomous Administration, which has been absent for nearly four years, whether military, civilian, voluntary service, night watch and others, where Turkish intelligence leads the campaign through its local tools (police, Courts, militias, client networks…); This is sometimes accompanied by direct beatings in front of the eyes of the people, torture in interrogation centers, confiscation of mobile phones, searches of homes and tampering with their furniture, with insults and sometimes theft of money.
Various financial fines, and in some cases more severe penalties, as the Turkish judiciary sentenced some civilian detainees to life imprisonment and to imprisonment for different periods of time to dozens of others, some of whom were transferred from Afrin. ; In this regard, the Turkish government is committing a flagrant violation of Article 70 of the Fourth Geneva Convention 1949, which does not allow “the occupying power to arrest, prosecute, or convict protected persons because of acts they committed or opinions they expressed before the occupation….”
Random and arbitrary arrests on a large scale are premeditated and designed, not only against those close to the previous administration, but also against most of the Kurds – the original inhabitants of the region, and the primary purpose of them is not only to generate financial revenues, but also to insult and intimidate the indigenous population and push them to leave their homes and properties, and establish a base Security statements about them for the benefit of Turkish intelligence, especially since most of the perpetrators of violations and crimes are not easily held accountable and escape punishment, at a time when the law (and the judiciary that was established in Afrin) has become a tool to abuse the detainees and the indigenous population, and not to redress them, redress grievances, hold criminals accountable and arrest thieves ; Which confirms with conclusive evidence that it is a systematic hostile policy directed against the Kurds under direct Turkish supervision.
-Rejection of citizens’ complaints:
Most of those who have been subjected to violations and crimes do not dare to reveal them, for fear of harsher penalties, as fair investigations and trials are not conducted about crimes and violations against civilians, and the occupation authorities do not seriously consider citizens’ complaints, and do not give convincing answers to them, and do not disclose the fate of the forcibly disappeared detainees, and some established courts are only to look into the fabricated charges against the detainees and fine them, as most of the people of Afrin are not able to file complaints or lawsuits against those who have committed crimes against them, and may even be punished again, and some are prevented from appointing lawyers, so you see them reluctance to make statements or talk about violations and crimes that affect them, and some of them are even forced to give testimonies against the reality.
The Committee for the Restitution of Rights, formed in September 2020, came from among the militia leaders to beautify the occupation and cover up those major crimes, under the pressure of thousands of published reports on violations and crimes committed.
– Severe damage to the environment and vegetation:
Before the invasion, the Turkish authorities had bulldozed vast agricultural and forest areas, at a depth of 200-500 meters and along the border strip with a length of /150/km, when building a concrete barrier wall, and its military mechanisms during the aggression uprooted thousands of olive trees in Several locations, such as “ Bilal mountain, Jerqa, Darwish village, Jia village” – Rajo district and the villages of “Hammam, Marwaniyah Fawqani and Tahtani, Anqaleh, Ashkan Gharbi” – Jenderes district, and the villages of “Qarmitlaq, Jaqali” – Shiye/Sheikh Al-Hadid district, and between my villages Kafar Janneh and Matina – the district of Sharran, and in Sherawa mountain, with the intention of establishing military bases; The fires and extensive unjust cutting – the region has never seen anything like it before – affected all natural and artificial forests and rare and perennial trees, as well as the unjust cutting of hundreds of thousands of fruit trees (olive and others) and thousands of them completely, by militias and recruiters, for the purpose of wood and coal industry and trade, as these infringements amount to environmental extermination; According to agricultural experts, the total area of forests (natural /18500/ha + artificial/21000/ha = 39500 hectares) and the rate of deterioration in them between burning and cutting over four years is close to 50% of it.
In addition to the overgrazing of livestock herds between olive fields and agricultural lands, causing extensive damage, without their owners daring to prevent it.
One of the pillars of the hostile policy pursued by the Turkish occupation and its mercenaries is to strike the relationship of the Kurdish person in Afrin with his natural environment and property, thus destabilizing and weakening the roots of society.
-Targeting civilian sites, facilities and housing:
The Turkish army did not hesitate to target infrastructure, sites and civilian facilities, such as hospitals, medical centers, facilities for poultry and livestock, schools, mosques, religious shrines, administrative buildings, bakeries, drinking water and irrigation stations, Maydanki Dam facilities and olive presses during the aggression, as well as the landline telephone and public electricity utilities, and many facilities and infrastructure are still out of service, in place of some of them, facilities belonging to Turkish institutions were built, and houses were targeted in district centers and affiliated villages, and some of them were burned, during the military invasion.
-Capturing some villages:
The Turkish army and the militias loyal to it and affiliated with the Syrian-Brotherhood coalition deliberately took over some villages and prevented their residents from returning to them, such as (“Qastal Jindo, Pavilon, Sinka, Ba`arafa” – Shara / Sharran), (Jilbereh, Kobleh, Dermishmash, Zerikat, Baseleh, Khalta” – Rubaria), (“Jia, Darwish” – Raju), (“Shekhors, Quta” – Bulbul, Telfeh – Jenderes…), as they took these villages as military headquarters or as housing for the militants.
-Women’s oppression, rape and forced marriage:
Originally, these Salafi-jihadi militias oppress women within their societies without hesitation, from polygamy, the imposition of the veil, the spread of prostitution, and others, and they are the ones who persist in persecuting Kurdish women in Afrin according to the same mentality; Despite the reluctance of most of those affected by violations and crimes to expose them or file complaints and lawsuits against their perpetrators, there are numerous reports of various forms of sexual harassment, forced marriage or exploitation of minors, as well as cases of kidnapping, rape and premeditated murder. Due to the lack of safety, a large percentage of girls refrain from attending middle and secondary schools for fear of being subjected to violations, especially those who live in villages.
-Destruction of tombs and archaeological sites and theft of antiquities:
The Turkish aggression targeted many archaeological sites with heavy bombardment, such as (Ain Dara archaeological site, Nabi Hori, Taqlaqa, Mar Maron…) and caused severe damage to them, which led to the disappearance of those historical monuments.
and the occupation authorities condone the theft of antiquities. , as well as searching for them, and even supervising and participating in most of them, such as what happened in digging up and excavation of sites and hills (Houri, Ain Dara, Brad and Mar Maron, Burj Abdalo, Qibar, Jenderes, Gamrukeh, Semalka, Zerafkeh, Ketekh, Dorumyeh, Dudera, Maydanki, Marwaniya Tahtani, Jernaz, Bazaryeh, Khirabeh Alo, Koura, Belko…) and many Islamic and Yazidi shrines, so that no archaeological site remained – despite its large number – in Afrin, and it was not subjected to exhumation, theft and vandalism with various simple and heavy tools.
On the other hand, it targeted the tombs of the martyrs in (Kafar Sufra, Matinah, Kafar Shileh) and the graves of religious and cultural figures such as the cemetery of Dr. Nuri Dersemi, and cemeteries and tombstones – with written in Kurdish on it – were also vandalized.
-Spreading chaos and disorder:
Ankara government did not resort to extending security and safety in Afrin region, it also did not exercise its responsibilities in securing order, public safety and protecting civilians, as it formed local councils that were nothing but tools to implement its policies.
Rather, it freed the terrorist militias to commit the most heinous crimes and violations, which in turn often fought among themselves against the backdrop of heinous disputes, internal liquidations, and disputes over thefts and scope of influence.
Terrorist bombings also occurred among civilians, resulting in martyrs and wounded, as there were many explosions with explosive devices, especially targeting some militia leaders and members.
On the other hand, as a result of the exchange of bombing by the Turkish forces and their militias with the areas under the control of the Syrian army, the city of Afrin was subjected to missile attacks, which led to material damage and casualties.
-Poor infrastructure and poor services:
Theft and deliberate sabotage of basic infrastructure, such as networks, stations, centers of electricity, communications, drinking water, schools, institutes, universities, agricultural irrigation networks and channels, electric power generation groups, and municipalities, some of which were occupied as military headquarters, have become at their lowest or non-existent levels, and the services provided are still low and even destroyed.
The high prices and the shortage of fuel burdened the people; In addition to neutralizing the services of most Syrian government institutions.
-Use of prohibited weapons:
There were reports from the Autonomous Administration that the Turkish army used cluster bombs, as well as chlorine gas, in the village of “Arandeh” – Shiye / Sheikh Al-Hadid, during the military invasion.
– Mutilation of corpses
During the war, the jihadist militants published videos showing their reprehensible assault on the bodies of Kurdish fighters’ martyrs, as their crime against the body of the martyr “Barin Kobani” was the most revealing of the extent of the hidden hatred in their souls, in addition, the militias did not allow the people to bury the bodies of the martyrs of Kurdish fighters after the end of the war, as they remained in the open and exposed for months.
-Forcibly Displaced from Afrin:
The displaced people residing in the areas of al-Shahba, the cities of Nubl, al-Zahra, Tel Rifaat, Der Jamal, and some villages and towns of Lilon mountain- north of Aleppo, which are under the control of the Syrian army and under Russian influence, are living a miserable life, as their number is about 75,000 people, of whom /9/ thousand live in Five camps, besieged on all four sides – a large prison – and prevented from movement by the Syrian government forces, opposition militias and the Turkish army, and they are not covered by the United Nations humanitarian relief programs, and they suffer from low job opportunities and services such as electricity, drinking water, health, education and others, and their main demand is Go home.
On the other hand, cases of Turkish forces and associated militias bombing villages and towns north of Aleppo, to which the people of Afrin were displaced, have been repeated, causing material damage and martyrs and wounded victims, such as what happened in the Tel Rifaat massacre on 12/2/2019.
-Building an insulating wall:
The Turkish army built cement walls around its headquarters and bases in the center of Afrin city and its environs, which are served by all requirements, it also built walls of concrete blocks two meters high near the villages of Kimareh, Jelbereh and Maryamin – southeast of Afrin, in a suspicious move and in preparation for the construction of a wall that isolates the area from the north of Aleppo governorate; Afrin is still separated from the city of Aleppo, and there is not even a humanitarian crossing between them.
During the war on Afrin, Turkey did not abide by Security Council Armistice Resolution No. /2401/, dated February 24, 2018, and does not abide by the contents of Security Council Resolution 2254 (2015), in terms of “taking appropriate steps to protect civilians and create conditions conducive to the safe and voluntary return of refugees.” and the internally displaced to their areas of origin and the rehabilitation of the affected areas, in accordance with international law,” despite its full effective control over the area militarily, administratively and sovereignly.
The region is occupied, and Turkey must assume its responsibilities and duties, as well as abide by international humanitarian law.
Afrin is under a total siege and media blackout imposed by the Turkish occupation authorities and its mercenaries, and suffers from painful details in the daily life of its indigenous people.
It is closed to media visits and delegations of human rights and civil organizations concerned with human rights, and parliamentary delegations, except for individual cases consistent with the Turkish narrator.
The call of the people of Afrin, wherever they are, is to end the Turkish occupation, expel the terrorist militias from their area, and return all the displaced to their homes, according to item 1 of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1514 of December 14, 1960, which states:
“Subjection of peoples to alien enslavement, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of basic human rights, contravenes the Charter of the United Nations, and impedes the cause of world peace and cooperation.”
The Kurds continue their just struggle by all legitimate means and means to defend their cause and to expose Turkey’s hostile policies and expose the violations and daily crimes committed.
They also appeal to all concerned at the Kurdish, national, Syrian and international levels, to work to break the silence regarding the bad conditions prevailing in Afrin, and to urge the Ankara government to put an end to violations and crimes, end its occupation of the region and return it to Syrian sovereignty and management of its people.
Media Office – Afrin
The Kurdish Democratic Unity Party in Syria (Yekiti)
-The first day of the aggression on Afrin.
Translated by Europe’s Organization of Democratic Unity Kurdish Party in