Human rights organization reveals violations in Syria’s Afrin

ALEPPO, Syria (North Press) – A human rights organization in the northern countryside of Aleppo revealed, on Sunday, the outcome of the violations that the residents of Afrin have suffered during 2020.

The Human Rights Organization – Afrin, which is active in the northern countryside of Aleppo, released a statement that it read in the Sardam camp for Afrin IDPs, which dealt with statistics of violations, killings, kidnappings, logging, and seizure of homes in Afrin.

In the statement, the organization stated that the Turkish-backed armed opposition groups are continuing the process of demographic change in Afrin, where more than 400,000 settlers have settled from different regions in Syria in the villages and suburbs.

The statment added that the percentage of Kurds now in Afrin does not exceed 23 percent.

The statement added that killings, kidnappings and the demands for ransom increased during the past year, that violations against the civilians are increasing, and the fate of more than half of the kidnapped has remained unknown for three years.

Thousands of trees were cut down to trade their firewood, and more than a third of the area designated for agriculture, estimated at more than 11,000 hectares, was burned since the Turkish control of Afrin, according to the statement.

The statistics of the Human Rights Organization during 2020 came as follows: 58 cases of murder, including nine women, were documented, 987 people were kidnapped, including 92 women, 26 people were released, including ten women, and more than 35 archaeological sites were destroyed and stolen.

The opposition groups and settlers logged more than 72,000 trees for trafficking, and uprooted thousands of trees as a result of the construction of a road between Jenderes district and Afrin and the Turkish state of Hatay, according to the statement.

The organization also said that 250 homes of indigenous people were seized, and that 39 explosions took place in light of the insecurity, killing and wounding more than 170 people.

Ibrahim Sheikho, spokesman for the Human Rights Organization – Afrin, told North Press that the violations that are taking place in Afrin amount to war crimes according to the Hague Law of 1897.

He added that the International Criminal Court must prosecute and hold the perpetrators of these crimes accountable.

The Turkish forces and its affiliated armed opposition groups took control of the Afrin region after a military operation in early 2018.

Reporting by Dijla Khalil