Since Turkey’s occupation began on 18 March 2018, Afrin’s nature, historical structure, religous sanctuaries and demography have been systematically damaged.
According to a recent report by ANHA, many crimes, such as forcible displacement, murder, threat, blackmail, kidnapping, looting and cutting olive trees, increased in frequency in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
İbrahim Şexo, Afrin Human Rights Organisation spokesperson, commented on what has happened in Afrin this year. “There was not even a single day when Turkey and its gangs did not commit crimes. They forced the last people in Afrin to migrate by pressuring them”.
805 people kidnapped
Drawing attention to the outcomes of crimes committed in Afrin, Şexo said that 805 people, including 74 women, were kidnapped in 2020 and their fates were still unknown. Şexo also said that 54 people were murdered as a result of torture in Turkish-controlled prisons.
On the subject of the seizure of properties in Afrin, Şexo said, “According to the information that our organisation obtained, 60 olive trees were cut down in Afrin Canton during 2020. Mercenaries seized 15% of the crops grown by villagers. The Turkish state, which formed a network of merchants, sells the olive oil at very low prices. Merchants went to America to sell the looted olive oil”.
“Afrin’s history and nature was damaged”, said Şexo. “According to the organisation’s data, 42 historical places were devoured. Turkish intelligence continues to destroy the culture of people in the region. Tens of historical artifacts were stolen from Nebi Huri Castle. Those stolen artifacts were taken to Turkey. Over 300 thousand people in Afrin were forcibly migrated. They were replaced by mercenaries’ families brought from different places in Syria. They sought to change 80% of the population”.
Şexo said the Turkish state deliberately placed Turkmen families in certain Afrin districts which were close to the Turkish border. Şexo also said that 54 schools were turned into intellgence centers by mercenaries and 20 other schools became unusable due to attacks.
Turkization and assimilation
Şexo went on to explain that education in the Kurdish language was banned. Şexo said that Turkish identity cards were given to people instead of Syrian cards and that using Turkish lira during was compulsory. “They changed the Kurdish names of some villages. They changed Kotana village to ‘Seljuk Oba’, Qestel Miqdad to ‘Zafir Oba’, Kurzele to ‘Cafer Oba’. The name of the Freedom Square located in the city centre was changed to ‘Tayyip Erdoğan Square’, Kawa crossway to ‘Olive Branch Crossroad’ and Newroz Crossroad to ‘Selahaddin Crossroad’.
‘They stole the organs of dead people’
Şexo accused the Turkish state of taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic. “Mercenaries’ health staff deliberately murdered people with poison injections and sold their organs. Some people’s bodies, who were murdered at the border, were also used in trade. These crimes, which were recorded by Human Rights organisations, are just a small part of the crimes that have taken place in Afrin. That is maybe 30% of the committed crimes”.