|On March 18, Turkey took control of Afrin city, after the Kurdish defence forces and up to 200,000 civilians evacuated the city in the preceding four days. Between 50,000 and 70,000 civilians remained in the city. Turkey’s army and Turkey-backed Islamist extremists now occupy the district. Turkey has cut internet services and banned outside journalists from entering Afrin. Recently, some international humanitarian representatives gained limited access. In Afrin, Turkey’s ongoing war crimes and crimes against humanity include:
1. Executing civilians in the street;
2. Ethnic cleansing and forced demographic changes, with the UN and US State Department claiming at least 137,000 internally displaced civilians are being refused re-entry into Afrin. In addition, those in Afrin continue to be subject to forced evacuations. Meanwhile, Islamic militants and their families, Syrian refugees from Turkey and IDPs from eastern Ghouta (including Jaish al-Islam and Faylak al-Rahman militants) are being settled in vacant houses and farms.
3. Establishing a local police force and Sharia court system using Islamist extremist militants in Faylak al-Rahman;
4. Violation of women’s rights, including abduction and rape, and women not being allowed out in public places;
5. Violation of children’s rights, including abduction;
6. Violation (or fear of violation) of the rights of Christians and Yezidis, including forced conversions and the destruction of churches and temples;
7. Arbitrary detention of at least 3,000 civilians by the Turkish army;
8. Detention, torture and murder of prisoners;
9. Financing of terror through kidnap and ransom;
10. Theft and confiscation of civilian property, including homes and businesses, unprecedented in extent, with militias intermittently fighting between themselves over the spoils of war;
11. Burning of books and documents and the destruction of graveyards;
12. Using Turkish teachers and a Turkey-designed curriculum in schools, including teaching the Turkish language, and forcing school children to wave Turkish flags, and chant pro-Turkish and pro-Erdogan slogans (as has occurred in the Turkey-occupied Azaz-Jarablus-Al-Bab triangle).
Turkish political leaders vow that Turkey will never return the district of Afrin to the Assad Government. In campaigning for Turkey’s June 24 elections, which are being held under a state of emergency and on-going purges, Turkey’s President Erdogan repeated his promise to expand Turkey’s occupation of northern Syria.
We call on the Australian Government and international community to use all means, including international law, to stop Turkey’s human rights abuses in Afrin, and its aggressive occupation of Afrin and other Syrian territory.