Kurds becoming a minority in Kurdish region of Afrin: Statement
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – 25 local civil society and human rights organizations on Friday said only about 20 percent of the original Kurdish population of northern Syria's Afrin remain in the region three years after Turkey and its allied armed groups seized the area.
After the assault on Afrin, Turkey settled thousands of Syrian Arabs there who been displaced from other areas in the country by offensives conducted by the regime of Bashar al-Assad. This significantly altered the demography of Afrin.
Kurds made up 96 percent of Afrin's population before 2011 but now represent about 25 percent, read a statement cosigned by 25 organizations and published by Human Rights Organisation – Afrin-Syria (HRO). It added that 75 percent of the current residents are Arab and Turkmen settlers.
The organizations accused Ankara of changing the "demographic composition" and the Kurdish identity of the region by bringing in hundreds of thousands of settlers.
They called on the United Nations and major powers to intervene and "end the Turkish occupation."
On March 18, 2018, Turkey and Turkish-backed rebels occupied the Kurdish enclave of Afrin during their so-called Operation Olive Branch. The occupation has continued amid widespread accusations of war crimes, including ethnic cleansing, kidnapping for ransom, and gender-based violence.
According to a report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published in June 2018, permitting ethnic Arabs to occupy houses of Kurds may be an intentional attempt to permanently change the ethnic composition of the area.
Just this week, armed groups in Turkish-controlled zones kidnapped three Kurds from Afrin, the Syria-based HRO reported. One of them was Besar Osman from Kefir Cene village, whom the Turkish-backed military police abducted while he was going to Azaz and transferred to a prison in al-Rai in northern Aleppo.
The group also accused the Turkish-backed Faylaq al-Sham group of kidnapping Shewqi Mustafa (65) and Horo Ahmed (37) on May 27 in Meydan Ekbesê village in Afrin's Rajo subdistrict on charges of having links with the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES).