Family fleeing Afrin: Turkish state turned Afrin into hell
Familes from Afrin who returned to the province so their lands and property wouldn’t be confiscated after the invasion are forced to leave their home for a second time due to the tyranny of the Turkish state and their allied gangs.
Hundreds of thousands of people from Afrin had been forced to leave their homes and their lands to migrate to the Shehba region last March after the Turkish state and their allied gangs invaded Afrin. Some families returned later so the gangs wouldn’t confiscate their lands and their homes, but they have been forced once again to leave Afrin due to the pillaging, robbery, abduction and torture committed by the Turkish state and their allied gangs.
H.M.’s family is one of the families who returned to Afrin from Shehba, and they spoke about the oppression and torture they witnessed to the ANF. H.M. said there were rumors that Afrin wasn’t dangerous after the invasion and the family believed them and returned, but they saw Afrin turned to hell when they did.
"AFRIN AT THE MERCY OF WOLVES"
H.M. aid the people had to abandon their homes and migrate to Shehba after Afrin was invaded and added that they stayed in Shehba for 2 months: “At first we were told there was nothing going on in Afrin. So we returned. But when we did, we saw that things were not as we had been told. Afrin is beautiful, but now the city is at the mercy of wolves. They turned Afrin into hell.”
H.M. said there is a large number of spies and informants in Afrin: “One can never tell who hit who. The enemy has no conscience. They enter homes, they steal. They capture innocent people. They shoot each other. Every night, they go to houses and take people away. Every night there are at least 5 to 10 people being taken. We tried to make it work, but at some point said what good is a house, or any property, when you fear for your life, and we left.”
“THEY COVER THEIR FACES AND ENTER HOMES”
H.M. said the family was left alone for 15 days after they returned to Afrin and added: “They wait 2 or 3 weeks, then masked men raid the homes. After that, it begins. They come every 15 days. What we were told and what we saw was wildly different. We had it better in Shehba. They burned down everything around Afrin. They are burning olive trees. They take people’s harvest and share among themselves. When people go and demand their houses back, they refuse. They tell people to ‘go file a complaint.’ Who are we to complain to? To the Turks? To the gangs? We have no options.”
“WE HAD TO FLEE THE GANGS FOR A SECOND TIME”
H.M.’s wife K.H. said they went back to Afrin to protect their home against gangs: “We first left Afrin due to the jets. We didn’t have a car, we came to Shehba on foot. They told us to go back because our homes were being looted, so we did. But when we arrived, we saw that Afrin was in a very bad state. We had to leave our lands to the gangs again and get out. We walked to Shehba again, because we don’t have a car. Our children wasted away on the roads, they fell sick. Afrin is our old Afrin, but it is suffering at the hands of gangs and the Turkish state. They take people away, they take girls away, they take the elderly away. But for the most part, they take young people away.”
“THEY ABDUCT CHILDREN AND HOLD THEM FOR RANSOM”
K.H. said the gangs abduct even small children to hold them for ransom, and that it is unknown what they do to the children if the ransom isn’t paid: “Women are always inside the houses, when they go out they can’t stay more than half an hour. They are afraid. Children are being abducted. They tried to kidnap my son twice. My son ran away and into the house, that’s how he saved himself. They took 5 or 6 children here. They abduct the children and hold them for ransom. We don’t know what happens if the ransom isn’t paid. We don’t know if they kill them, or take them somewhere else. But the children don’t return. There are gangs everywhere. There are many who came from Ghouta. The gangs shoot each other to. Two gangs had a shootout over the wedding hall in Afrin.”
"CHILDREN CAN’T FORGET THE FEAR"
The family’s child R.H. can’t forget the fear caused by what he witnessed in Afrin. R.H. said the gangs tried to kidnap him twice: “There are so many gangs in Afrin. They were constantly shooting. We were very afraid. They tried to kidnap me twice but I ran away and saved myself.
We couldn’t play on the street. When they started shooting we went inside our homes. We were afraid we would be hit. We want to go to Afrin, but there are gangs there. We are afraid of the gangs. They shot bombs, when they shot mortars the shells fell around us. When the jets strike, I used to go to a corner of the house and cover my ears to stop my fear. We are now in Shehba, we are at ease. I am at ease here.”