The Human Rights Organization-Afrin and Syrians for Truth and Justice (STJ) on Wednesday published a joint report on the military operations launched by the Turkish army into Afrin, which was previously controlled by the Kurdish forces.
The institutions took the testimonies of 40 victims who had been arrested by Syrian armed opposition groups and Turkish forces who committed human rights abuses including arbitrary arrest, torture, and ill-treatment.
Witnesses who shared their traumatic experiences of torture and ill-treatment during their visits to detention centres described arbitrary arrests, cruel torture, and acts of sexual violence.
The arrest cases documented were of 25 young males and 15 young women, including a baby girl, as well as elderly men and women. Six of those arrested were Arabs, the remainder being Kurds, among them Yazidis.
“After their release, most of the victims fled Afrin towards IDP [internally displaced persons] camps and safe areas in Aleppo for fear of being rearrested, as has happened to survivors who remained in Afrin,” the report noted.
The report illustrates many examples, among them one of a surviving woman who recounted that she was kidnapped by three gunmen and taken to the Office of the Turkish Governor in Afrin where she was held for about an hour.
Both rights organisations heard from witnesses that Turkish-backed armed groups converted people’s homes into detention centres.
It was noted that victims’ testimonies correspond in content to a report issued by Amnesty International in August 2018 referring to Turkey’s use of schools for military purposes.
The report concluded that acts of torture and other inhuman treatment practiced against detainees were intended to coerce confessions from them, humiliate them and practice religious and racial discrimination against them.
Human Rights Organization-Afrin is an independent, non-governmental, non-profit Syrian human rights organization consisting of members and activists in the field of human rights.
Syrians for Truth and Justice (STJ) was conceived during the participation of its cofounder in the Middle-East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) Leaders for Democracy Fellowship program, who was driven by a will to contribute to Syria’s future.