This year in Afrin, 487 people including 22 girls and 50 women have been abducted, and 43 people including 15 girls and 12 women have been murdered, according to the Human Rights Organisation of Afrin (Efrîn), Syria.
Turkey took control of Afrin after the Turkish armed forces, along with various local armed groups including former members of ISIS, al-Nusra and al-Qaeda, launched so-called Operation Olive Branch against the town. Since then, more than 8,000 people, mostly women, children and the elderly, have been abducted.
Since Turkey seized control of Afrin reports have been coming from the region revealing various ongoing rights violations.
Yeni Ozgur Politika reports that there are prisoners being held in al-Rai, A’zaz, Bab, Jarablus and Idlib prisons on trial for crimes they did not commit.
The fate of more than 1,000 people remains unknown in the town and the Human Rights Organisation of Afrin, announced that around 70 women had been raped in prisons run by military police. There have also been separate reports of psychological and physical violence against women in these prisons.
Ibrahim Şêxo, spokesman for the Human Rights Organisation of Afrin, said, “This year, gangs affiliated to Turkey commandeered and sold 250 homes. People whose homes were confiscated then had to pay rent. Gangs seized 10 houses in the village of Tirindê in Afrin and arbitrarily sold and rented the houses. The people can’t do anything.”
Şêxo also said that the calls and propaganda of the Syrian Kurdish National Council and the Association of Independent Kurds for people to return to Afrin only served to legitimise the crimes of Turkey and the gangs:
“The people who returned after these calls were kidnapped and a ransom of between $5,000 and $10,000 was demanded of their families for their release.”
He recalled 15 incidences of Kurds being abducted and released in exchange for ransom.
One example he gave was that of a Kurdish man, Mihemed Weqfi Murad, who returned from the Shahba refugee camp to Afrin.
“Ten days ago, a local man by the name of Mihemed Weqfi Murad moved [back] from Shahba to his village Kefer Sefrê in the Cindirês district of Afrin. But when he reached the village, he was kidnapped by gangs. The gangs demanded a ransom of $100,000 for the release of Mihemed Weqfi Murad. As a result Mihemed Weqfi Murad lost both his home and the money.”
Ibrahim Şêxo criticised the international community for remaining silent in the face of crimes committed by Turkey and its affiliated gangs over the last three years.
“The Governor of Hatay [a Turkish province on the Syrian border] governs Afrin as if he is governing a region of Turkey. They encourage murders to keep people from returning home. They are changing the demographic structure of the town. But Turkey’s agents and gangs claim otherwise and hide these realities from public.”