Olive producers from Afrin long for pre-invasion times

After occupying Afrin in March 2018, the Turkish state and allied gangs cut down and burned thousands of olive trees. Olive producers from Afrin have been suffering a great loss ever since.

Olive is one of the most important sources of life in Afrin and makes up 30 percent of total production in Syria. The olive of Afrin is also well-known for its high quality.

According to the data provided by Syria-Afrin Human Rights Organisation, there were 18 million olive trees with around 50 thousand tons of yield. Due to the Turkish state’s brutal policies based on looting living spaces and targeting humanity, productivity has drastically dropped. The Turkish army and its mercenary gangs have burned nearly 400 thousand trees, cut down over 17 thousand trees and uprooted 20 thousand trees since they invaded the region in violation of international law.

The occupiers forced landowners to sell their fields for prices below market value and, began to extort money from the local people under the guise of taxation. This situation led the farmers to abandon their trees in despair.

Seid Hebeş, a local farmer who was forced to migrate to Aleppo due to the invasion of Afrin, spoke to ANHA and said, “The gangs blackmail olive farmers, both those who remained in Afrin or migrated to other regions. They cut down and sell trees for prices below their worth. The invaders pay no attention to moral values and the labour of farmers. This is indeed agonizing.”

Stating that they long for the old times before the Turkish invasion, another citizen named Narin Hemdo reported harsh conditions experienced by olive producers due to the tyranny of the gangs. She spoke of an increase in olive prices since the gangs impose extortion on the local people who want to take the olives out of the canton. She added that Afrin people do not have olive oil in their kitchens anymore.

The Turkish state opened a crossing from the Jindires district and smuggled olive oil into Turkey, labelling them as “Made in Turkey” in order to trade them in the world market as Turkish goods. This is one of the biggest crimes committed by the Turkish state against Afrin people.

Co-chair of the Association of Lawyers in Aleppo, Mihemed Emin, defined the usurpation of Afrin olives as a violation of law, saying, “Those involved in robbery and looting should be brought to account before Syrian and international laws. These criminals should be sentenced for war crimes in accordance with the laws.”

Lawyer Mihemed Emin noted that such practices, which harm the public and personal property and adversely affect economic and agricultural conditions in a country, are defined as unacceptable by all international organisations.

Indicating the harmed interests of Syria, especially in the Afrin region, Mihemed Emin called on the international organisations to intervene and stop the crimes committed by the Turkish state.