Afrin top official calls for more support for Afrin in European parliament

by Wladimir van Wilgenburg    


BRUSSELS – Hevi Mustafa, the co-chair of the Afrin administration called for international support at an international conference in the European parliament that discussed the Turkish invasion of Afrin and how Kurdish academics can contribute to a democratic solution in the Middle East.

“We in Afrin we used to live in a peaceful life, with our own administration and democratic autonomy,” she said through a live connection by Skype. But now she said hundred of thousands of people of Afrin are displaced in northern Aleppo without any support from the international community.

“We have a lack of medicine in the hospital in Shahba. There are hundreds of IDPs from Afrin without water, or housing,” she added. “Moreover, civilians are targeted by the Turkish army and are killed in Afrin.”

“Also there are children who lack nutrition, cannot go to school and live in inhumane condition,” she said. “Through your conference I would like to call on all international organizations, the EU parliament, the UN and all international organizations to take steps to support the people of Afrin,” she said.

“They want to change the demography of Afrin. If Erdogan is not stopped, he will go further and put the entire country [Syria] under risk. We ask all those who leave peace and democracies and those who fight for peace, to put pressure on Turkey and to stop Erdogan,” she added.

John Ging, Director of the Coordination and Response Division in the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said that an “estimated 136,000 people were still in Afrin district, with another 134,000 people from that district remaining displaced in Tall Refaat sub-district and the town of Nubul and Zahra.”

Nawaf Xelil, the former spokesperson of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), head of the Kurdish Centre for Studies in Germany, also called for more support.

“100,000s fled Afrin to Shahba [northern Aleppo], and they still need many basic needs and want to end their suffering,” he said. “The displaced people are suffering from snake bites, and spiders and diseases that are affecting children,” he said.

“The people of Afrin protected the world and European countries, and ISIS targeted Paris and Brussels,” he said. “They are waiting for us to improve their situation while they are under Turkish invasion,” he said.

 “Kurds and Arabs fought in the sacred fight against ISIS and sacrificed their lives. There are thousands of martyrs, but we will continue our fight against ISIS. But we call on the European Union to support the people of Afrin and support a political solution and peace talks,” he also said during the conference.

Also independent observer, Thomas Schmidinger, an Austrian academic, also suggested that there is a lack of independent media coverage of Afrin since it came under Turkish control in March.

Turkey prevents independent journalists or academics to go to Afrin, which it makes it more difficult to understand the situation in Afrin.
“There are kidnapping going on, especially of people who were linked to administrations set up by the PYD, there is a lot of confiscation of property, Syrian Islamists trying to enforce Islamic law, but I don’t know if this is systematic,” he said.

Moreover, he said the rebels supported by Turkey targeted religious minorities like Christians, Alevis and Yezidis in Afrin. “Yezidis were targeted as devil worshippers by Islamist militias and Yezidi cemeteries and holy places were desecrated,” he added.

Furthermore, he said over 1,500 Kurds who converted to Christianity now hide their religious identity or pretend to be Muslim. And the churches that operated in Afrin are now closed down or not active anymore.

The organizers of the conference, the EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC), the Kurdish institute of Brussels, Koln and Stockholm and KURD-AKAD (Kurdish academics) in a final statement called for an “immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the Turkish forces and their affiliated groups from Afrin and all the Syrian territories they occupy.”

Moreover, it called for the unconditional release for ‘all abducted men, women, and children and the provision of adequate compensations for the victims,” it said.