TEV-DEM’s Xelil: Afrin will be returned to its own people- PART I

TEV-DEM Executive Council Member Aldar Xelil said: “The Turkish state’s forces took over Afrin’s lands, but they can never take the will of the people or the resistance. We believe Afrin will be saved.”

Democratic Society Movement (TEV-DEM) Executive Council Member Aldar Xelil spoke to the ANF about the invasion of Afrin, threat of ISIS, attempts for a solution, ideas for a buffer zone and the Northern and Eastern Syrian Federation project.

The first part of the interview is as follows:


A year after Afrin’s invasion, walls were put up around the city. What is happening inside the walls, and how is the struggle against the invasion inside?

Afrin was invaded 15 months ago. There was a historic resistance (against the invasion) and 1.500 people were martyred. Even more were injured. Our people were in resistance. The Turkish state’s forces took over Afrin’s lands, but they can never take the will of the people or the resistance. We believe Afrin will be saved. All our efforts, all our plans are towards that end. But there is the fact that, the Turkish state is implementing the same policies of occupation and colonization and their efforts to destroy the Kurdish existence, culture, language and history that they implemented in Northern Kurdistan for years, now in Afrin. The most visible part of it is the demographic shift they are creating in front of the world to see. They displaced the local people of Afrin, they threatened them, and now the ones who still remain are detained, abducted and tortured. They are settling people from other places, gang members’ families, those who have been trained against their families, democracy and the will of the people. They are completely transforming Afrin’s national, religious and cultural identity.

On top of the crime of occupation, they are committing crimes against humanity. For that, since the invasion attacks began, we have been involved in various methods of resistance. There was a military resistance for the first two months, then our people in Shehba started protesting. They resist under harsh conditions. We as a movement continue with the political, diplomatic, economic and organizational efforts. There are efforts to free Afrin as part of the Resistance of the Age (the resistance against the invasion of Afrin).

With this, we salute the Afrin Liberation Forces who carry out actions every day in Afrin and who suffer martyrs. I give them my respect. I believe that Afrin will be free, with this ongoing resistance and support from the people. All our diplomatic meetings and efforts are geared towards liberating Afrin. We believe we will prevail. Whatever the enemy can do, Afrin will be returned to its own people.


Is ISIS still a threat?

ISIS as an idea continues to pose a threat. They have been defeated in the military sense, but they have secret groups, sleeper cells. They continue to pose a threat in Rojava and Northern and Eastern Syria as well as against the whole of humanity. The whole world is living with this threat. So, the joint struggle to date must continue for the elimination of ISIS remnants and against ISIS mindset and those who support it. That’s the only way to end ISIS. Otherwise ISIS can always regroup.


Was there a solution found for the arrested ISIS members?

Truthfully, these prisoners are a burden on the Northern and Eastern Syrian administration. There are too many of them and they pose a threat. They have a dangerous mindset. So this is on everybody's agenda. The countries they are citizens of didn’t come to get them. So the Northern and Eastern Administration made a proposal.

The international court?

We proposed to the United Nations that a court could be set up together with international powers for the trial of ISIS members. Those who supported them, people who joined them and states who backed them all need to be exposed. How did ISIS come about? How were the crimes committed? How did this outcome come about? All these must come to light. And, the perpetrators have to pay for their crimes.