The factions of the Operation “Olive Branch” “…are still continuing to loot and thieve the property of the citizens, and the residents confirmed that factions have imposed royalties on the owners and farmers
“As Syria becomes more safe with [Turkey’s military] operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch, our guests want to go back to their homeland…”
― Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul (Andalou Agency)
“The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing.
If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”
― Groucho Marx
“An Arab contact displaced from Douma now in northern Aleppo: “They liberated Efrin from the PKK & PYD & turned it into a world of dishonor, hashish smokers, shit eaters, robbery gangs & shabbiha… Let them return the Kurds [PYD], who are more honorable that these miscreants”
Update from the Occupied City
Turkey’s Anadolu Agency publishes a constant stream of media reports announcing the successes achieved in Turkey’s great fight against “terrorism”. From terrorists (in their thousands) “neutralized” to aid convoys, schools reopened in Northern Syria, and on and on…
However Turkey’s perception of its own presence in the once predominantly Kurdish area… (“We do not expect terrorism to turn up on our doors; we are going to the source of terrorism before it comes to us.” Recep Tayyip Erdoğan)
…is not echoed in independent reports since its capture of Afrin city on the 18 March.
Ongoing concern continues to be expressed since the destruction of Kawa the Blacksmith with the arrival in the city of the so called Free Syrian Army “gangs” (“thousands of Salafi jihadists” Dr. Thoreau Redcrow) along with Turkish tanks and military. Soon, of course, to be followed by looting, abduction of both men and women, rape and torture. Maybe ordinary daytime activities for some of the armed Islamist “freedom fighters” (sic) (“ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and Al-Nusra militants now comically rebranded by Turkey as the “Free Syrian Army” Dr. Thoreau Redcrow) but a cause for grave concern as well as outrage to human rights observers the world over…
…if not, tragically, for Turkey’s NATO allies nor the British Conservative Party Prime Minister Teresa May:
“‘It is important,’ Mrs. May said, ‘that in the defence of democracy, which has been facing extraordinary pressures from the failed coup, instability across the border from Syria and from Kurdish terrorism, that Turkey does not lose sight of the values it is seeking to defend.” (theRegion)
…who, along with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan seems inordinately concerned at the supposed Kurdish threat to world democracy.
One of the few independent sources for life in the occupied region following the Turkish invasion, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights recently published an update from the city which can only add to the concern at the fate of those who remained (“It is estimated that 150,000 people remain in Afrin district.”) as the city was occupied.
Here, in brief summary – and in the hope of drawing attention to a flagrant disregard for all human rights standards and the growing sense that Turkey and its armed paramilitaries believes it can act with impunity when and wherever it wishes – is some of the of research compiled by the Observatory. Reports of ongoing violations by Turkish forces “as a result of the lack of accountability for those members.”
This information needs to be circulated widely in order that conditions in the region do not continue to deteriorate.
As well as, maybe, hoping that President Erdoğan’s “friends” will begin to question the company they are keeping?
The Observatory reported (in the first week of June alone) and in the context of local demonstrations about the unchecked brutality and criminal practices of Turkey’s militia allies:
– Following ongoing harassment a media activist was kidnapped by the al-Hamzah Division and brought to one of the division detention centres. This resulted in a protest at Azadi Square in Afrin city on Sunday 3 June.
– Rebel and Islamic factions in the city, continue to “loot the citizens and their property and insult them…”
– The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also confirmed “an attack by members from al-Hamzah Division on one of the owners of electricity generators in the city, where they assaulted and insulted him, because the owner demanded one of the members of al-Hamzah Division pay his accumulated dues due to his electricity subscription through the owners’ generator.”
– The factions of the Operation “Olive Branch” “…are still continuing to loot and thieve the property of the citizens, and the residents confirmed that factions have imposed royalties on the owners and farmers of the agricultural lands and farms in the Afrin area, while they burn the crops of those who refuse to pay the royalties…”
– Also citizens continue to be prevented from returning to the Afrin area by the “factions and Turkish authorities”…
– Arrests against the citizens of Afrin are ongoing: “The people accused the factions working in the Afrin area of taking the arrest as a trade, by bringing the citizens to detention centers and forcing their relatives to pay a ransom in exchange for releasing them, after beating and torturing them…”
ANF confirmed these reports – “The mercenaries have already kidnapped dozens of people and they are keeping a lot of men and women whose families haven’t been able to pay the ransom, in captivity…” – as well as publishing the names of many of the people abducted.
Houses continue to be seized and come “under the control of the factions and the Turkish forces”… an aspect of alleged plans for demographic change which appears now to be happening:
“Kurdish groups have accused Turkey’s government of carrying out a campaign to create a demographic change aimed at dislodging native Kurdish civilians from their lands and replacing them with Sunni Arabs from Turkish-based refugees camps.” (AINA)
Residents also continue to be interrogated about their association with the Democratic Union Party and the Kurdish Forces…
In other reports
At the end of May a Kurdish physician, Dr. Lazgin Ahmed Sali, a heart expert “who refused to flee Afrin after the incursion by Turkish forces and their Syrian proxies earlier this year has reportedly been captured by rebels.” He was taken by the Ahrar al-Sharqiye brigade in the town of Jandaris. Sali’s family was also evicted and their properties confiscated…
Hawar News Agency (ANHA), reported “that Turkish forces and allied mercenaries have demolished with bulldozers the houses of people in Semala village 40 km north of Afrin on Sunday.”
In the same report: “Turkish forces have cut down the olive trees and grape vines in Meydanke village. The invaders, on the other hand, raided houses in Mabeta district and abducted a group of youth who were then tortured under captivity.”
Forests, Olive groves and other agricultural areas are also vandalized (when, apparently not appropriated for their produce). “…seven hectares of agricultural land have been burned down by militiamen in the village of Qibar and in the village of Dar Girê” and in “the village of Birc Weqas in the district of Sherawa, the occupation forces on Thursday also set fire to many olive trees and cereal fields in Birc Weqas and Berade… Similar incidents are also reported from the village of Rota in the district of Mabeta.”
Firat News (ANF) also reported that in addition to “raping, harassing, abducting, robbing, torturing and killing the people who refuse the invasion” an ongoing abuse of the Yazidi population by Turkish Forces was also continuing:
“Turkish soldiers are forcing long dresses and headscarves on women in the city, and the Êzidîs are forced to pray like Muslims, as their places of worship were exploded. The Êzidîs of Afrin have been forced out of their lands by the Turkish state’s barbaric attacks, and are protesting the Turkish state and their allied gangs’ inhuman attacks.”
Firat News (ANF) also interviewed a 70 years old who managed to return from Shehba to Afrin and described what he had witnessed there on his return: “I went to my village to see what happened to my house. I saw that they had taken everything in my house, like what was done to all other houses around. They left nothing inside. Turkish gangs seize the fields and olive trees of those who had to leave Afrin. Now is wheat harvest season. They are harvesting all the wheat and taking all the belongings of the people away. They told us that we were draft-dodgers. I am 70 years old. How can I ever be a draft-dodger?”
Finally, in the first week in June: “The invading Turkish forces and allied mercenaries have blown up the Ezidis’ Union Centre in Afrin on Tuesday.” the Ezidis’ Union Centre “was the place where books on the Ezidi faith from Shengal, Syria and the Middle East had been gathered.”
For those who have fled the situation also remains grim
“…While hundreds of thousands of citizens who are located in the northern countryside of Aleppo, are still suffering from the deteriorating human and living situations, in conjunction with the bad weather, where the humanitarian organizations are still turning their backs to the calls for help and the cries of children, women and elderly people, amid the International Community’s ignoring of this tragedy of hundreds of thousands of people who have been displaced from their villages, towns and houses.” (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights)
The International Community continues to ignore to this tragedy. Yes.
Instead of insisting that Turkey adheres to agreed standards of behavior and insisting on human rights monitors to oversee allegations of ethnic cleansing and abuse of Kurds and other minorities.
Don’t say you have not been told.
Video Footage of ‘Free Syrian Army’ from Afrin:
“Peace & Security” (Recep Tayyip Erdoğan)