Alwaght- Recently Syrian and international rights groups have reported about appalling crimes against humanity in Syria's Afrin three years after Turkey occupied the region.
In January 2018, Turkey, in cooperation with some militant groups, launched an operation in Afrin, one of the three cantons controlled by the Syrian Kurds. After 58 days, the town fell on March 18.
Since the initial days of occupation, reports kept emanating from the town about crimes against humanity. However, the crimes by the Turkish forces and the Ankara-sponsored militants in Afrin have elevated to new heights, according to reports.
Sex slaves transferred from Afrin to Libya
Trafficking of sex slaves was one of these crimes against humanity. In late December, Adana representative in the Turkish parliament from People’s Democratic Party (HDP) Tulay Hatımoğulları Oruç accused his country’s officials of having hands in the kidnapping and transferring Kurdish women as sex slaves to militants fighting on Libyan fronts under Ankara backing.
The parliament member in a written appeal to the parliament speaker asked him to press for an immediate explanation of foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. Hatımoğulları in her request in addition to the media reports referred to “witnesses” who she said Syrian Kurdish women were transferred to Turkey after kidnapping through Al-Hamam and Al-Khalil villages in Syria. Relying on reports by the Izadis center in Germany about transferring the kidnapped women to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Pakistan, Libya, and even Yemen, the lawmaker asked the foreign minister to tell if Turkey investigated the allegations neutrally.
Although so far no confirmed information has been published on the case, reflections and consequences should be expected not far in the future as an official politician has raised the issue. In 2014, the enslavement of Izadi women in the Sinjar town of Iraq by the ISIS terrorists received massive focus from the international community. Having in mind that a majority of the takfiri groups in Afrin are close in terms of mindset and ideology to ISIS, such incidents are never impossible and unthinkable.
Turkey’s human organs trade
Another dimension of crimes in Afrin under the Turkish occupation is the trade of human organs by Turkey and its loyalist militants. Since the very beginning of the Turkish campaign, reports held that people with light injuries and illness went to hospitals of the Kurdish town but their bodies were delivered to their families with their internal organs removed.
Multiple reports emerged about crimes against local people and the environment when Afrin was captured by the Turkish troops and their allied militants in 2018 spring. Ibrahim Ibrahim, a journalist from Afrin, in an article published by Ahval news outlet wrote that over the past three years there have been several reports of kidnapping the body organs of Afrin people especially after blasts left casualties. He reported about six cases who had superficial injuries or mild illness but after hospitalization, their bodies were handed to their families without internal organs. Ibrahim argues that both Turkish forces and their Syrian militant allies are involved in systematic human body organ trafficking activities in Syrian Kurdistan, particularly in Afrin.
According to the journalist, during the Turkish tank attacks on residential areas of Hajilar village in Jandaris district of Afrin, 8 civilians were killed and 12 others were injured. Reports claimed that the terrorists of Operation Euphrates Shield transferred the bodies to Reyhanli town of Turkey near the border with Syria. There are claims that the terrorists sell body organs of the deceased Syrian Kurds in the trafficking markets.
Human rights violations and Afrin demographic change
Crimes in Afrin are not limited to human organs and the sex slaves trade. Rights organizations report efforts by Turkey to change the town's demography, damage the nature, and systematically change identity of Afrin. London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group watching the Syrian battleground developments, said that Afrin conditions are a telltale sign that human rights are gravely violated in the town.
On Saturday, the Russian RT broadcaster reported that Afrin in 2020 witnessed 987 cases of kidnapping cases, including 92 women. 58 people were also killed in the violence. The network also told of cutting down 72,000 trees, and demolishing and looting of 50 antiquities and historical sites. The UN says 604 civilians were killed over the past years in northern Syria, 498 of whom killed by the bombardment of Turkey and the aligned militants. 696 civilians, including 303 children, were injured as a result of the raids.
The monitoring group’s report about the casualties of land mines and explosive traps planted by the Turkish forces in Afrin said that so far 207 blasts have occurred in the town. Thousands of Afrin residents were forced out of their homes amid ongoing violence and coercion backed by Turkey. From March 2018, some 300,000 people fled the town, and this number is increasing. Turkish military seized thousands of homes of the displaced Afrin residents, as dozens are arrested and sent to Turkish and armed groups-operated detention centers and headquarters.