One year since occupation… Turkish violations reflect Afrin’s serious situation
On 18 March 2018, Turkey and its mercenaries occupied the city of Afrin after the use of warplanes and the complicity of some countries with them. The Turkish attacks were met with resistance by the people of Afrin for 58 days in a resistance called “Resistance of the Age.”
Since the first day of the Turkish occupation to Afrin canton, and violations against civilians, especially the Kurds did not stop.
Displacement and demographic change
In the wake of the Turkish aggression on Afrin, hundreds of thousands of native Afrin residents were forced out of their homes, fearing massacres during the Resistance of the Age.
According to statistics revealed by media outlets, including the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 350 thousand civilians left on 18 March from Afrin. So far, the families are coming out of Afrin under the pressure of the Turkish occupation, in order to settle the families of al-Ghouta, Daraa and Idlib in Afrin and change its demography.
According to what is being circulated, the percentage of Kurds in Afrin now does not exceed 20% in the largest demographic change in Syria since the beginning of the crisis in 2011, based on a consensus between Turkey, Russia and Iran.
As the Turkish occupation has been seeking for a year, it has changed the identity of Afrin and its landmarks, colored it with Turkish identity by changing the name of streets, squares, public facilities and hospitals, and raising Turkish flag over schools and public facilities.
The Turkish occupation changed the names of the main squares in the city center of Afrin, such as the Newroz roundabout to Saladin, the National roundabout to the roundabout of March 18, and Kawa Haddad to the Olive Branch roundabout.
Changing names of the strategic places from Kurdish to Ottoman, as well as placing the Turkish flag and pictures of Erdogan everywhere and on the entrances of each village and each side and the city, as well as teaching the Turkish language in schools and raising the Turkish flag over schools.
In addition, the name of Afrin Hospital was written in Turkish, after it was written in Kurdish and Arabic, not to mention changing the tariff regulations for shops and streets and writing them in Turkish only.
At the same time, the Turkish occupation of the holy places and the destruction of religious shrines of the Yezidis, which are numbered 22 in the Yezidi villages.
Kidnapping and killing
Perhaps most of the practices carried out by the Turkish occupation and its mercenaries against the Afrin residents who remain in Afrin are the increase in kidnappings and killings, most of which were in order to request the ransom.
In this regard, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights published several reports that revealed the kidnapping of 2,600 civilians during the year, and revealed that the fate of 1,000 civilians is unknown.
According to statistics documented by the Syrian Jurists’ Platform to Defend Afrin, there have been nearly 3,000 kidnappings since the occupation of Turkey by Afrin, not to mention the fact that the occupation mercenaries repeatedly kidnapped civilians more than once for ransom.
On the situation of women in Afrin, according to a member of the Syrian Jurists’ Platform to Defend Afrin Avin Haj Hamo, they documented and sent files to human rights organizations abroad about the abduction of 50 women and the rape of 55 others, not to mention the attacks on women on a daily basis in public. The latest incident is the killing of a woman by one of the occupation’s mercenaries after harassing her in Azadi Square in the center of Afrin.
As documented by some media reports, the Turkish occupation has killed 84 civilians from Afrin since its occupation, and hundreds of cases have yet to be documented.
Theft, looting and export of goods to Turkey
Afrin since the very first day of occupation witnessed the largest theft and looting in the Syrian crisis, and this was shown in the pictures and reports, where all shops were stolen in Afrin.
Furniture, agricultural machinery, generators, bicycles and olive oil were sold in the markets of the cities of Jarablus, al-Bab and Azaz, which is also occupied by Turkey.
As the mercenaries took over the homes of Afrin residents who were forced to go out to al-Shahba canton, in addition to taking the houses of the remaining Kurds in Afrin and forcing them out of them.
The mercenaries of the Turkish occupation seized the olive crop and exported it to Turkey, where the number of olive trees in Afrin is 18 million trees, with an annual production of 270,000 tons of olives. The Turkish occupation took over the olive season this year.
According to sources, the mercenaries forced the people to harvest their season and seized it and extracted oil from it and exported it to Turkey.
Not to mention the deliberate Turkish occupation uprooting the olive and forest trees and the burning of wheat yield belonging to the people in the border villages in the canton.
According to newspapers and international news agencies, the Turkish occupation uses a number of intermediary companies to export the oil seized in Afrin to Spain.
While international media, including Swiss, said that the Turkish occupation earned 130 million dollars of Afrin’s olive oil.
The antiquities of Afrin in the museums of Turkey
After the destruction of most of the archaeological sites listed on the list of UNESCO during the attacks on Afrin, such as “the archaeological Temple of Andara, the Prophet of Hori, the Roman Amphitheater, Deir Mishmish, Tomb of Marmaron,” and many other archaeological sites, the Turkish mercenaries sought refuge through brokers to explore archaeological sites and to take out old antiques and sell them to traders abroad, or export them to Turkey.
As confirmed by the joint head of the Committee of Antiquities in Afrin Asmahan Ahmed, there are about 75 archaeological hills in Afrin, and that the Turkish occupation and its mercenaries have dug most of the hills and dug in search of antiquities.
The Director of Antiquities and Museums of the Syrian regime, Mahmoud Mohamed Ali, told some media that the Turkish occupation and mercenaries in cooperation with Turkish soldiers and businessmen and under the supervision of the Turkish intelligence, prospecting and the smuggling of at least 16 thousand artifacts from Syria and especially from Afrin,
The occupier began to follow the policies of “Divide, Rule” in Afrin through the application of the “Mukhtar” system, which is based on the planting of client figures in each village, whose task is to monitor the residents and report them to Turkish intelligence.
While the Wrath of Olive Operations Room noted in several reports the liquidation of the clients of the local councils in Afrin, after ascertaining that they participated in the killing of the people of Afrin, with total of 220 operations.
Warnings of violations
Many activities and protests to condemn the Turkish occupation were organized, the demonstrators called for the withdrawal of Turkey from Syrian territory and the cessation of the countries complicit with Turkey in support of Turkey in its occupation of Syria and expose its illegal violations.
The Rojava Center for Strategic Studies organized a forum on December 2, 2018 entitled “Ethnic Cleansing and Demographic Change in Afrin”, which lasted for three days, revealing Turkey’s violations in Afrin of ethnic cleansing, forced displacement, kidnapping, murder, theft of monuments and demographic change.
The International Independent Investigation Commission on Syria revealed the extent of suffering of civilians in Afrin referring to kidnappings and looting carried out by the Turkish occupation mercenaries in Afrin and the absence of security and stability.
90% of violations in secret
Although some of the violations of the Turkish occupation in Afrin have been revealed, there are many violations at home that are difficult for human rights committees to know, access or investigate the facts.
Member of the Syrian Jurists’ Platform to Defend Afrin Avin Haj Hamo, confirmed that 90% of the facts are hidden in Afrin and called on the international community to “establish an independent committee to enter Afrin and investigate the facts.”