The Turkish occupation state launched a surprise attack on Afrin canton on the 20th of January 2018, which led to its occupation on the 18th of March of the same year, and as a result, the most horrific violations against people in general and women in particular were committed, as the occupation and its mercenaries committed against women crimes of kidnapping, violence, sexual assault and murder, while the Research and Women’s Rights Protection Center in Syria prepared a file documenting the Turkish occupation practices against women.
The file, which our agency was able to obtain, shed light on the violations of the Turkish occupation and the circumstances of the situation in the occupied territories, especially in Afrin.
In order to document what the people of Afrin, especially women suffer at the hands of the Turkish occupation and its mercenaries, the introduction to the file included the events that occurred during the past 3 years in the occupied territories, and the fierce and aggressive attacks that these areas were subjected to by the Turkish occupation and its mercenaries of the so-called “Syrian National Army,” their violation of international and humanitarian laws, such as the four Geneva Agreements, and the Convention on the Genocide Crime Prevention approved on December 09, 1948, through looting, plundering, vandalizing, demolishing houses, kidnapping, torture, inhuman treatment, arbitrary arrests and massive violations against Kurds in particular and the residents of the region in general in order to force them to emigrate and leave their homes and properties under the supervision of the occupying Turkish state.
The Center considered “all the aforementioned as clear examples of Turkey’s non-compliance with international laws, charters and norms, and this is a flagrant violation of them.”
Displacement of a million civilians, 60% of them are women
“The number of the displaced population has estimated at about one million civilians, the majority of whom are Kurdish people, and 60% of them are women since the start of the Turkish occupation and its mercenaries’ attacks on Afrin and its occupation, through the occupation of Serêkaniyê and Girê Spî until today date, in addition to the loss of thousands of their lives and the wounding of thousands, according to the center.
It also documented the displacement of more than 500 thousand of Afrin’s indigenous people and the displaced, as a result of indiscriminate bombing and excessive use of force in Afrin which sheltered hundreds of thousands of displaced people from Aleppo and other Syrian areas fleeing the war in their areas.
Simultaneously, the civilian properties were converted into war spoils for the benefit of mercenaries, the process of changing the occupied areas’ features started by renaming the regions and institutions in Turkish and Arabic, and local councils run by mercenaries were established for the Turkish state.
Humiliating and degrading practices
The file pointed out that “the Turkish state, as an occupying state, is responsible for the acts of sabotage and violations committed by the mercenaries, and for all the harm that these mercenaries cause to the citizens, the occupation and the conditions of war lead to the fragmentation of social structures which leads to the weakening of women, marginalizing their status and deepening inequality from which they already suffer, then all this is accompanied by an increase in violence against women within the community, and if they are not killed, the suffering is more severe, such as carrying out marginal, painstaking or degrading acts that are detrimental to human dignity that reach the exchange of sex for food or work for prostitution, so their emotional and physical health is affected and they are exposed to diseases.”
66 cases of killing
The Observatory documented, with evidence, the killing of 66 women in the districts and villages of Afrin at the hands of the Turkish occupation and its mercenaries through torture, indiscriminate shelling, shooting, suffocation and beating to death, and the kidnapping of more than 149 women by the Turkish occupation and its mercenaries, while the number of injuries reached 178 cases of injury and assault, from the beginning of the occupation of Afrin in 2018 to the end of 2020.
As for the unidentified killings, about which the center was unable to complete information, they included a case that occurred on January 28, 2018, in which an anonymous woman lost her life as a result of the Turkish bombarding of Janders district of Afrin, and she was 55 years old.
On November 19, 2019, an unidentified young woman was lost in the city of Afrin, where her body was found thrown at the spring of Sheikh Abdel Rahman village of Janders district of Afrin.
Cases of kidnapping and torture
According to the center, since the occupation of Afrin in 2018 until now, more than 1,564 civilians have been subjected to violence by the Turkish state and its mercenaries, and more than 149 cases of kidnapping of women have been documented, the fate of some is still unknown.
The center documented the following cases of women whose fate is still unknown, and they are:
Guleh Suleiman from Basuta village was kidnapped by the so-called Euphrates Shield Forces at the beginning of 2018.
Haifa al-Jassem from the Arab component was kidnapped on the accusation that she was a former employee of the Autonomous Administration, as she worked as a nurse in Avrin Hospital.
Khadija Mostafa Berko, 23 years old, was kidnapped by the Turkish gendarmerie. Amina Hussein in the sixth decade was kidnapped by Faylaq al-Sham. Ayat Ahmed Rashid and Safaa Ibrahim al-Shaar.
On May 11, 2018, Khadija was kidnapped by the Turkish intelligence at her home in Ashrafieh neighborhood in Afrin and taken to an unknown destination.
On May 19, 2018, Hasna al-Eid from the Arab component was kidnapped by the mercenaries of the Turkish occupation from Janders district and taken to an unknown destination.
Lonjin Mohamed Khalil and her sister Rojin Mohamed Khalil were kidnapped by the mercenaries of the Turkish occupation. They are from Dumliya village of Rajo district in Afrin canton, on the accusation that their brother is a member of the Syrian Democratic Forces.
On August 15, 2018, Khadija Meskil, 50 years old, Jinan Tanah, 26 years old, Media Tanah, 20 years old, Jihan Tanah, 17 years old from Heikja village were kidnapped by Nur ed-Din al-Zinki faction of the Turkish occupation.
The politician Khaleda Suleiman, the Member of the Kurdish Progressive Democratic Party was kidnapped in the village of Berka in Mabata district by the political security of the Turkish occupation and taken to an unknown destination, and it was the second time that the politician Khaleda Suleiman was kidnapped.
Sarah Abdullah Mohamed Ali, 16, was kidnapped by the military police of the Turkish occupation from Ma’raska village of Afrin.
On October 05, 2019, the armed factions affiliated with the Turkish occupation kidnapped a number of women from Deir Swan village of Shera district of Afrin, and they are Wedad Hannan Waqqas, Amira Shehima, Mawlida Abdel Rahman Khalil.
On November 14, 2019, a group of women were kidnapped by the Turkish occupation army and its mercenaries, and they are: Khadija Qarah Ali, Amina Qarah Ali, Fadila Mohamed, Fadila Sido, Heyat Qarah Ali.
On February 07, 2020, Arin Deleh Hassen, 21 years old, from Kimar village of Sherawa district was kidnapped by al-Hamza faction, namely by a group of the military commander called “Abo Shaher” in the prison of al-Hamza Division, and now she is in the Military Police custody.
On May 12, 2020, one of the mercenaries of Faylaq al-Sham kidnapped Hevin Hassen Debso, who is 17 years old, from Jalameh village in Janders district, in order to forcibly marry her.
Valentina Arslan Mostafa, 22, was kidnapped by the Syrian mercenaries of the Turkish occupation from Darwish village of Shera district in Afrin. Valentina’s family said that after a year passed, she spoke to them and told them that she was in Kafr Nbul town of Idlib governorate, then her news was cut off, and her fate is still unknown until now.
On May 29, 2020, violent clashes erupted between the mercenaries of al-Hamzat and Ahrar al-Sham in Afrin, and as a result, a number of women, among them Kurdish women who had been kidnapped for a long time, were found naked and shackled in al-Hamzat prison, and the video circulated on social media shows that eleven women and a one-year-old child are in secret detention, some of the women were kidnapped in early 2018 after the Turkish invasion.
While the number of injuries documented by the center reached 178 as a result of the indiscriminate shelling of Afrin and its villages, among them Zeinab Abdo Mesto, in the seventh decade, suffered a fracture in the right foot as well as bruises in the back as a result of her attempt to prevent mercenaries of the Turkish occupation from stealing her home in Afrin on June 08, 2018.
Pressures on women in the occupied territories
In this regard, Attia Youssef spoke to our administrative agency at the Center for Research and Women’s Rights Protection in Syria, and said: “In addition to the pressures that women who are defending their rights are subjected to by the Turkish Justice and Development Party in Turkey and Bakur Kurdistan, the Turkish occupation’s pressures continue on women in the occupied areas in Syria.”
Attia Youssef indicated that their center has documented many cases committed by the Turkish occupation and its mercenaries against women in Afrin, noting that they could not document all the violations committed there because many women refrained from speaking about the rape they were subjected to.
At the end of her speech, the Administrator at the Center for Research and Protection of Women’s Rights in Syria, Attia Youssef, stated that the file had been sent to all concerned parties regarding women’s rights and human rights, and she demanded an international prosecution of violations and war crimes committed by Turkey in north-east Syria.