Turkey and Rebels Must Stop Violations Against Residents in Afrin — Amnesty

Syrian rebels celebrate after advancing into the Afrin canton, March 2018

Amnesty International has called on Turkey and Syria’s rebels to halt serious human rights abuses against civilians in Afrin in the northwest of the country.

In March, a two-month Turkish-rebel offensive took over most of the Kurdish canton of Afrin, including Afrin city and all major towns. The advanced ended the hopes of some Syrian Kurdish groups for an autonomous region linking Afrin with the cantons of Kobani and Cezire in the north and northeast.

In a report published Wednesday, Amnesty said Afrin residents are enduring arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, confiscation of property, and looting. The organization claims some rebels and Turkish armed forces have taken over schools.

The report is based on interviews with 32 people, some still in Afrin and others who have fled, between May and July.
The sources cited at least 86 instances of arbitrary detention, torture, and enforced disappearance.

On 16 July, Amnesty gave the Turkish Government a summary of its preliminary findings, requesting a response. Nine days later, Ankara questioned the impartiality of the report but did not provide “a concrete response”, Amnesty says.

Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty’s Middle East Research Director, said:

All parties to Syria’s conflict, including the YPG, Turkey’s armed forces and local armed groups, should facilitate the safe and voluntary return of people to Afrin.

As the occupying power, Turkey must provide full reparation to those whose homes have been confiscated, destroyed, or looted by security forces or by their allies. It is Turkey’s duty to ensure that displaced civilians are able to return to their homes in Afrin and are afforded restitution, or where this is not possible, compensation.

The report also casts blame on the Assad regime and Kurdish militia YPG over the situation of at least 140,000 people who fled to the al-Shahba region. It says that about 300 injured and chronically ill, living in camps and houses which have been damaged and are without proper services, must wait for regime permission to be allowed access into Aleppo city for medical care. Only about 50 have been processed since mid-March.

Others are prevented by the regime from moving to areas of Syria with better living conditions.

Amnesty said the YPG have blocked roads from the al-Shahba region to Afrin, preventing displaced people from returning to their homes. Hundreds have instead gone back to the city by walking through a long and arduous mountain route.

Maalouf said:

The Syrian government and YPG are exacerbating the suffering of people who have been displaced from Afrin, by trapping them in the al-Shahba region for no apparent reason and depriving them of adequate access to education, food, and medical care. People, especially the sick and the injured, should be allowed immediate safe passage to wherever they wish to go.

Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Islamization threatening minorities in Afrin: NGO
    http://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/47bfd79b-6559-477e-8ebd-c1a8ef278fde 7/19/2018

    Islamic Sharia law was introduced in the once very liberal and open region. Thus, women no longer dare to go outside without a headscarf, and almost all the people in the streets are either men with long beards or women wearing the Islamic niqab. Due to the Islamization policy, it is no longer possible to live a Yezidi or Alevi life in Afrin. The small Christian community of approximately 1,000 people has disappeared.
    https://www.gfbv.de/en/news/northern-syria-serious-allegations-against-the-turkish-army-9279/ 7/17/2018

    Organizations that advocate for religious minorities in the Middle East have reported that Afrin’s Yezidis and Christians can no longer safely practice their religion there. Turkification and Islamization policies implemented by the occupying forces have threatened their lives, homes, and religious sites, to a degree that has forced many to leave.

    While U.S. officials have made strong statements about protecting religious minorities in the Middle East, those statements have not translated into action in Afrin, or in other areas of Northern Syria threatened by Turkey.
    http://theregion.org/article/13943-does-west-even-care-for-religious-minorities-afrin-representatives-from-northern-syria-ask-d-c 7/25/2018

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