The human remains of People’s Defence Units (YPG) and Women’s Defence Units (YPJ) members who lost their lives during Turkey’s assault in Afrin, ongoing since 20 January 2018, were exhumed from the Avesta Cemetery in Afrin, North East Syria.
Turkey’s Anadolu Agency on 14 July presented news of the Avesta Cemetery as though it were a ‘mass grave,’ also claiming that the bodies in the cemetery belonged to people killed by the YPG and YPJ.
Aldar Xelil, a member the Co-Presidential Board of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), shared his comments in an interview with ANHA regarding Turkey’s exhumations in the Avesta cemetery in Afrin.
Xelil argued that Turkey carries on a tradition inherited from the Ottomans that is based on ‘genocidal policies.’ “During the late Ottoman period and in the early days of the Republic of Turkey, a genocide was perpetrated against the Armenians and also other peoples. The Turkish state has been built on these foundations.”
“Just like in the Zilan massacre, all such massacres are alive in the memories of the people. They have not given any right to life to any diversity.”
According to Xelil, Turkey seeks to destroy diversity in northeastern Syria. “They do not only take possession of lands, but also assimilate the peoples of the region. They do not let any other culture and history other than their own exist. When the Treaty of Lausanne was signed, they intended to invade Aleppo, Mosul, Kirkuk and northeastern Syria all together.”
Xelil shared his view that Turkey carries out a special policy on Afrin, because it encountered a vigorous resistance from this Syrian Kurdish town, the people of which never showed the slightest sign of surrender.
“People of Afrin made a strong resistance, the people have never accepted the invasion. They brutally attack the graves of the martrys. They do not even accept these graves on those lands. They attempt to destroy anything and everything that evokes the resistance, that builds a memory, that symbolises the free will of society.”
Xelil shared his evaluation on the timing of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to northern Cyprus and Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu’s visit to Afrin, saying that both visits give a single message to the world.
Turkey says, “Just like how I entered and stayed in Cyprus, that is how I entered and how I will stay in Afrin,” he observed.
Xelil appealed to international human rights defenders to form an independent commission to conduct an inquiry into the cemeteries in Afrin where human remains have been exhumed by Turkey. “Human rights defenders, specialists should go there and conduct an inquiry. How can you exhume the body of a person from their grave like that? Such an act is a crime against humanity.”
“We demand that independent commissions should conduct an inquiry into how the people of Afrin, the children of Afrin, had been slaughtered brutally by the Turkish state.”
Turkish officials claim that its attack on multiple fronts, also resulting in Turkey’s invasion of Afrin, targets the YPG forces which it accuses of belonging to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is deemed ‘outlawed’ by Turkey.
Before Turkey and affiliated armed groups took control, Afrin was home to about a million civilians. As a result, the Syrian Kurdish town has so far witnessed hundreds of victims and wounded, mostly due to Turkey’s deployment of advanced weapons and its rush to militarily advance in strategic locations.