Atrocities in occupied lands and the UN report

Bedran Çiya stated that many war crimes and violations committed by the Turkish state-backed gangs were not reflected in the UN report and said independent investigation committees need to go to the occupied areas and investigate war crimes immediately.

A year has passed since the Turkish state's Serêkaniyê and Girê Spî occupations. A terrible crime scene appears on the stage. While the crimes committed are documented in the UN report on Syria, it is stated that actual situation is much more severe.

The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council, in which war crimes in Afrin, Serekaniye and Girê Spî were addressed, concluded its 45th session with a series of resolution drafts.

Human rights violations and war crimes in Syria were also evaluated in the session that started on September 14. The report of the UN International Independent Syria Research Commission covering the period January-June 2020 was also presented in the meeting. Although the Turkish state is not directly held responsible, the report also includes important examples of war crimes in the areas occupied by Turkey-led gangs. The Syria report was reminded in the draft resolutions, and it was pointed out that war crimes may have been committed in Syria. It was emphasized that the International Criminal Court could play a role.


Despite all the obstacles imposed by the Turkish state, the crimes documented by the Afrin Human Rights Organization and the Cizîrê Human Rights Association, reveal that the UN report is very inadequate. The prevalence of the crimes in the reports discloses that these crimes are coordinated by the Turkish state.

We have compiled some war crimes in the autonomous administration areas occupied by the Turkish state and its partner ISIS, Al Nusra and the "National Army" gangs. We also asked Bedran Çiya Kurd, the deputy chairman of the Democratic Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, about the related parts of the UN report on the occupied areas and its deficiencies.


Autonomous government officials say that 300 thousand people from Serêkaniyê and Girê Spî were forced to migrate because of the invasion of Turkey and Cizîrê Human Rights Association submitted to international organizations applications and documents of 162 thousand people who were forced forcibly displaced.

15 villages belonging to Yazidî Kurds have been evacuated in Serêkaniyê and its surroundings. It is documented that at least 65 houses and all properties belonging to Yazidis were seized, 80 houses were demolished in the villages of Davudiye and Xirbet Cemo and military headquarters were built in their places.

It is documented by the Kurdish press that there are many ISIS members among the "National Army" gangs that participated in the invasion operations against Serêkaniyê and Girê Spî. Cizîrê Human Rights Association states that 400 Iraqi ISIS members were brought to Serêkaniyê and Girê Spî as fighters, and 1400 Syrian gangs and their families moved from Idlib.


The Cizirê Human Rights Association documented that the Turkish state killed 340 people in autonomous administration areas along the border during the Serêkaniyê and Girê Spî invasion operations that started on October 9, and in the post-invasion attacks on the autonomous administration areas in Girê Spî and Serêkaniyê.

The report of the association states that 187 people killed were civilians. In the report, it is further said that 7 people were executed after they were taken prisoner by the invaders, and 2 of them were raped. Since the invasion, a total of 945 people have been injured, 339 of them have been documented as civilians. After the occupation by Turkey 25 people lost their lives and 43 injured in the explosions that occurred in both Serêkaniyê and Girê Spî.

The Turkish state used white phosphorus, which is considered as chemical weapon, against SDF and civilians in Serekaniye on October 19, 2019. Cizire Human Rights Association documented that 33 people were burned in this chemical attack, 23 of them were civilians and 10 of them were SDF fighters. The association stated that 6 people were burned beyond recognition and there was no document or information whatsoever about them.

It was also remarked that since October 9, at least 85 people have been kidnapped, tortured and asked for ransom to be released in Girê Spî and Serêkaniyê. 78 people were arrested for working in the autonomous government institutions and sent to Turkey for trial although contrary to international laws.

9-year-old Renas Muhamed Isharha and 3-year-old Mahir Subhi Ancur from Serêkaniyê were sent to hospitals in Turkey after they got sick. Both children were murdered in Turkey and their organs were stolen.


In the report of the Afrin Human Rights Organization covering the period from January 20, 2018 to September 30, 2020, it is stated that at least 581 civilians were killed -498 by bombardments and 80 by torture- by the Turkish state and its gangs during this period. 68 of the victims were children. Moreover, more than 696 people, 330 of whom were children, were injured in the bombings of the invaders.

The Afrin Human Rights Organization documents that 6885 civilians were kidnapped by gangs under the control of the Turkish state from the beginning of the occupation operation until the end of September. The fate of 3900 of the kidnapped female and male civilians is not known. The situation of 11 civilians from the Omerê Shaxi village in Rajo district can be given as an example. Of these civilians who were sentenced to life imprisonment by so-called terror courts established by the invaders in Afrin on December 17, 2019, nine were sent to Turkey and the fate of two others is unclear.


The majority of the Kurdish population, which constitutes almost 90 percent of Afrin, had to migrate as a result of the complete occupation of the city on March 18, 2018. Despite the occupation, most of the 100-150 thousand Kurds who remained in Afrin later left the city due to the systematic pressure and torture. It is known that the Kurdish population in the city is below 18 percent of the general population at the moment.

Today, only 5-7 thousand of 25 thousand Yazidis live in 22 villages and city center in Afrin. More than 10 faith sanctuaries belonging to the Yazidis were completely plundered. The Afrin Yazidi Center, located in the city center and hit during the occupation operation, was completely destroyed by the invaders in June 2018. Today, the Yazidis in the city are kidnapped, tortured, massacred and forced to convert to Islam.

The majority of Alevis, whose number is around 15 thousand and who live in Mabata district center, left the city following the occupation. The number of Alevis staying in the city today is not known clearly, and is stated to be very few. Like the Yazidis, Alevis are also forced to convert to Islam. The houses of Alevis and Yazidis were forcibly seized and converted into Quran courses and religious centers where Salafist gangs give education.

There are currently 2-3 Christian families left in Afrin, where around 1000 Kurdish Christians and Armenian Christians ued to live. The only church in Afrin was looted by gangs after the occupation. Today, it is shared between Sultan Murat and Jaysh al-Sharqiya group. The few Christian families staying in the city are forced to live according to Islam. Rıdvan Muhammed Muhammed, one of the Kurdish Christians in Afrin, was arrested by the Faylaq al-Sham gangs on July 31, 2020, when he demanded the burial of his wife, Cennet Mohammed, according to the Christian belief, and is still under arrest today.

The Arabs, who are locals of the city, are exposed to the practices of the gangs such as abduction, ransom, seizure of properties and vehicles, and massacre.

Towns people are forced to migrate from their homes because

Arab and Turkmen gangs brought from Ghouta, Hama, Homs, Turkey, Iraq, Idlib etc. have been settled in the houses of local people who were forcibly displaced during the invasion of their land. In some places, the residents still living in their homes were forcibly evicted. In Shiye district, Kurds were forced to rent their own houses.


The murder of Hevrin Xelef, General Secretary of the Syrian Future Party, by the Ahrar al-Sharqiya gangs during the Girê Spî invasion operation is not erased from memory.

In Afrin, Sêrekaniye and Girê Spî, women cannot go out without a man and without a veil. Many women prefer to stay in their homes due to the harassment and kidnapping of the gangs.

In all areas of occupation, especially in Afrin, girls under the age of 18 are forced to marry gangs and to become their second, third or fourth spouse. Polygamy, which was prohibited during the autonomous administration period, is encouraged or imposed on the society by the invaders.

Syrian Women's Rights Research and Advocacy Center reports that at least 85 women were killed, 175 wounded and 123 kidnapped by Turkey and gangs during the occupation operations against the three cities.

The Afrin Human Rights Organization has documented that 68 women have been murdered in the city, 65 women have been raped and 5 women who were raped have committed suicide since January 20.


Stating that the report published by the United Nations (UN) is important, Bedran Çiya noted that for the first time, important points about the areas occupied by the Turkish State and its gang groups are pointed out in a report.

Bedran Çiya remarked that many war crimes and violations committed by the Turkish state-backed gangs were not reflected in the report. Stating that there are no monitoring institutions, media organizations that can detect violations of rights and war crimes committed in the occupied areas, and there are no people who can follow these crimes and report them to the public, Çiya Kurd said independent investigation committees need to go to the occupied areas immediately and investigate war crimes.

Bedran Çiya Kurd emphasized that the crimes committed are far above those reflected in the report and continued, “Therefore, all violations in these regions should be urgently investigated and reported to the public. Those responsible for violations must be tried and called to account. After the detection of war crimes, we want those who committed these crimes to be brought to account”.


Çiya Kurd pointed out that: “The Turkish state is responsible for all violations and war crimes committed in Afrin, Serêkaniyê and Girê Spî, which are under occupation. The Turkish State attacked and occupied these regions with its partners (ISIS, Jabhat Al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda).

Thousands of people brought from regions such as Idlib and Ghouta have been settled in Afrin. The people of Afrin were displaced from their own lands. Their properties were seized, hundreds of people who wanted to protect their land were massacred. War crimes in Afrin have not happened anywhere else in Syria. What happened there is because of Turkey. These war crimes are perpetrated by the Turkish authorities, but mostly by gang groups that are ideologically loyal to the Turkish state. Sultan Murad and other groups have great grudge and hatred towards the Kurdish people. There are many ISIS gangs among these groups.

When we examine the reports, it is seen that there are fewer war crimes in Serêkaniyê and Girê Spî. The reason for this is not that what happened in Afrin was not intented in these regions. When the occupation operation started, the Kurds, aware of the Turkish state and its gangs' hatred of Kurds, left their cities. Very few Kurds remained in these two cities after the occupation. That is why if fewer people were killed, kidnapped and tortured by the invaders. Kurds living in Turkish occupied areas are faced with the massacre and genocide."


Reminding that the Turkish state made an agreement with Russia and the US to stop their attacks following the invasion of Serêkaniyê and Girê Spî, Çiya Kurd said, “However, the Turkish State has never been loyal to the agreements and continued its attacks. Civilians are constantly being massacred on the border, lands are set on fire, villages targeted with artillery fire."

Çiya Kurd added that "Turkey is organizing attacks with drones anywhere in the Autonomous Administration territories. Three women politicians were massacred in Kobanê, there were attacks in Qamishlo and Shehba. All these incidents, murder of civilians and politicians in our lands also constitute war crimes”.