Ethnic Cleansing and Patriarchal Violence in Turkish Occupied Afrin

Following the illegal invasion of the Kurdish city of Afrin in Syria in 2018 the area has been under the control of Turkey and its Jihadist allies. The Turkish occupation has seen continued acts of horrific violence especially against women and ethnic cleansing.

Evidence from the occupation has shown repeated acts of violence, looting and ethnic cleansing by Turkish military forces and their allies. The democratic administration in Afrin was replaced by unelected officials loyal to the Turkish regime.

Recent kidnappings, murders and acts of torture especially targeting women in Afrin have once again brought the brutality of the occupation to light.

In a recent shocking case a 16 year old women called Malak Nabih Khalil Jouhmah, was kidnapped by the Sultan Murad Brigade mercenaries on May 23. The Islamist group is an ally of NATO partner Turkey and belongs to the so-called “Syrian National Army” (SNA), which is involved in the occupation of northern Syria in violation of international law.

Images of Malak’s body which had been dumped in farmland near Afrin are a shocking reminder of the patriarchal brutality of the Turkish occupation in Afrin. Her case is sadly not the first time that a young Kurdish women has been kidnapped and murdered in Afrin. Activists have also noted the common use of torture against detainees in Afrin. This torture is all to often targeted specifically at women.

More recently it has been revealed that an 80 year old Kurdish man was kidnapped by pro-Turkish Jaish al-Nukhba militia and tortured to death.  Aref Abdo Khalil’s house was reportedly invaded on June 9th with armed men kidnapping him and ransacking his house. His body was found by Lake Maidanki.

Aref Abdo Khalil before his kidnapping and murder by a Turkish aligned militia

Such violence is all too common in occupied Afrin with opponents of the Turkish state arguing that it has effectively created  a “terror regime” in occupied areas of Kurdistan. Examples include the kidnapping of a promeint Arab tribal leader in Girê Spî, the summary execution of three civilians in Afrin in April and recent kidnappings in the village of Raco.

Since the invasion of Afrin there have been at least 500 cases of kidnappings for ransom. The abduction of Kurdish women, especially Yazidis, is also common-place. More recently several women detained by Turkish military police were imprisoned in the Jihadist al-Hamzat Division militia’s facilities in Afrin.

Kurdish women’s groups, human rights groups and the autonomous administration in Northern Syria have once again condemned these new acts of state violence calling on the UN and international community to act. On June the 11th a march took place in the Kurdish city of Kobane to protest against the occupation.

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