Syria: International Day of Solidarity with Afrin (January 20)
The Syrian-Kurdish city of Afrin is still suffering under the Turkish-Islamist occupation (Presse Release)
The inhabitants of the Syrian-Kurdish city of Afrin in the north-west of the country are still suffering under the Turkish-Islamist occupation. One year after the beginning of the Turkish attacks on Afrin (January 20, 2018), many Kurds and their supporters want to declare this day an International Day of Solidarity with Afrin. "The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) supports this project of the Kurdish people and their supporters all over the world – and would like to expresses solidarity with the people of Afrin, who are calling for an end to the occupation by the Turkish army and its Syrian Islamist supporters," stated Kamal Sido, the STP's Middle East expert, in Göttingen on Friday.
Since March 2018, the Turkish government and the Syrian Islamists have been trying to enforce far-reaching changes there. The Kurdish civilian population is suffering from systematic intimidation, lootings, and expulsion – and the occupiers are even guilty of murder. More and more Kurdish families are deprived of their livelihood, while infrastructure and monuments are being destroyed, and villages, mountains, and valleys are being given new names in Arabic or Turkish. Meanwhile, what is happening in Afrin is to be seen as an attempt to destroy the Kurdish language, the culture and national identity of the Kurds.
Before the attack on Afrin, the Turkish government claimed that the Kurds only made up 42 percent of the population there. In reality, their population share was around 95 percent in 2011. The region was also known as "Kurdax" or "Ciyayê Kurmênc", meaning "mountain of the Kurds". After Afrin had been taken, the Turkish army started to encourage Arab Sunnis from other parts of Syria to settle in the region – mainly families of Islamist militants. Meanwhile, Arab families have settled in just about all Kurdish villages and cities. In the Rajo district to the north of the city of Afrin, the Turkish army has expelled all the Kurds from the two villages of Darwish and Jia, and a Turkish military base was established nearby. The village Bulbul was once exclusively inhabited by Kurds, with about 1,000 families. Now, only 50 Kurdish families were allowed to return to their homes. Similarly, only 150 of formerly 500 Kurdish families were allowed to return to the village of Meydan Ekbaz, which is located near a passage between Kurd Dagh (Kurd Mountain) and the Amanos Mountains. Further, a total number of 150 Arab-Sunni families have settled in the predominantly Kurdish-Alevi village Mabata. About 60 Kurdish families have been trying to return to their homes in Mabata since April 2018, but the Turkish army and Syrian Islamists didn't allow them to.
The Turkish army and its Syrian Islamists allies are said to have demolished at least 32 schools in Afrin – and 318 schools, institutes, or universities have been closed down. The Turkish occupation forces are forcing the Kurdish population to speak Arabic or Turkish, and the schools have to use Turkish teaching materials. All public buildings and associations have to have Turkish flags, and facilities and streets are being given new names in Arabic or Turkish. The central square of the city of Afrin is said to have been renamed "Erdogan Square".
Header image: STP