On 14 July Turkey’s Anadolu Agency broadcast news claiming that the Avesta Cemetery in Afrin was a “mass grave”. Bodies of civilians as well as fighters from the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) and the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), all of whom died in Turkey’s offensive, had been buried here, but Anadolu Agency additionally claimed that the bodies were those of people killed by the YPG and YPJ.
The same story was published in both pro-state media like the Sabah, and most “opposition” media, all under similar headlines.
Parents of Kurdish fighters killed in clashes with Turkish forces moving in to occupy Afrin in 2018 reacted to the story, and related how they had been witness to the destruction of burial grounds by Turkish forces.
Şemsêxan Gulo, the mother of martyred Nûredîn, stated that she had witnessed how the martyrs’ Şehîd Sadiq Cemetery had been destroyed when she went to visit her son’s grave a few days before the total occupation of Afrin. “All the graves in the cemetery had been destroyed” she said. “This is yet another demonstration of the barbarity the Turkish state has persisted in throughout history.”
Asked about the accusations against the YPG and the claims about the discovery of a “mass grave” in Afrin, she rejected the claims and said, “These accusations against the YPG are completely unfounded. How can they massacre their own fighters and their own people?”
Mihyedîn Hesen, the father of martyr Can Welat, said he’d been present at the burials in the area near the hospital in Afrin. “The occupying Turkish army had surrounded the city, and we’d been visiting Afrin to support people living there. That was when the bombing started. Many fighters and civilians were killed. That area near the hospital was the only place we could only bury them because of the siege.”
Reminded of the “mass grave” story on the Turkish media, Hesen said the occupying Turkish state would resort to any means to incriminate the YPG-YPJ forces. “The corpses shown in the Turkish media are wrapped in shrouds. If this was a mass grave as claimed by the Turkish state, how come they have been wrapped in shrouds?”
Şeha Osman, the mother of martyr Rêwan, criticised the silence of the international organisations in the face of the crimes perpetrated by the Turkish occupiers. She also emphasised that the crimes committed in Afrin were nothing new, and that this was simply a resumption of crimes committed against the Armenians and the Alawis.
Mihemed Cemil, a member of the Girkê Legê Martyrs’ Family Council, said that the graves of the martyrs had been violated by the Turkish state before the eyes of the whole world. “International organizations must react to the violation of the graves” he said.