11 civilians from Afrin tortured and sentenced

Eleven civilians who were abducted from Afrin by Turkish-backed militias and then handed over to the Turkish secret service, tortured and then imprisoned in Turkey, have been sentenced to record prison terms.

Eleven civilians who were deported from Afrin to Turkey last year have been sentenced in Hatay to terms of imprisonment ranging from twelve years to life for alleged involvement in the deaths of two Turkish soldiers.

The lawyer for the kidnapped Afrin residents, Suphi Zarif, stated that his clients had been tortured, and that the decision to sentence them to heavy prison sentences was contradictory and "absurd". The lawyer announced an appeal against the verdict. He noted that members of the Turkish-backed militias had threatened the families of their clients.

The defendants rejected the accusations and said that their statements had been made under torture. Nevertheless, seven defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment at a court in Hatay, another four to twelve years imprisonment.

"The eleven civilians were tortured by the Turkish-backed militias for twelve days in the worst possible way and then brought to Turkey together with their torturers, who then took part in the interrogations. This is not even an interrogation," said Suphi Zarif.

The civilians were then forced to sign prepared confessions. Those who refused were threatened by the torturers who called themselves Abu Said and Abu Mahmud. Not only the abductees were threatened, but also their families. They were told: "If you do not sign these statements, we will go back to Afrin and subject your family members to the same torture as we did for you. We will rape your women and kill them if necessary. Then the accused had signed their confessions.

In September 2018, the Turkish government spread the "success message" that it had captured several YPG fighters in a "special operation" and brought them into the country. Government media then published photos of nine apparently injured men. In fact, the alleged YPG fighters were civilians from Afrin, occupied by Turkish troops and jihadist militias, who were kidnapped, tortured and then handed over to the Turkish secret service MIT by the so-called "FSA" on September 3, 2018. 15 days later the men from Afrin were brought to Turkey.

Accusation: "Destruction of the unity of the Turkish state and the indivisibility of the country"

The eleven civilians from the village of Omera in the district of Mabeta are Fîras Fayîq Kelkawî, Cafer Muhammed Xelosî, Îbiş Mihemed Maho, Mesûd Mecîd Kelkawî, Ehmed Maho, Cengîz Mustefa Nesan, Reşîd Sebrî Maho, Idrîs Mustefa Nesan, Hisên Ehmed Kelkawî, Ramadan Hanif Maho and Rezzan Behcet Ahmet. They were charged with "destroying the unity of the Turkish state and the indivisibility of the country" and "murder". Allegedly, they were involved in the deaths of the high-ranking military Oğuz Kaan Usta and Mehmet Muratdağı, who died in fighting with the YPG/YPJ on 23 January 2018. Although there was no concrete evidence to support these allegations, the prosecution was based on an alleged witness and the testimony of the men who were extorted under severe torture.