Hatimoğulları: Kurdish Women Kidnapped from Afrin Transferred to Turkish-Backed Syrian Militias in Libya – Al Marsad

Member of Parliament for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey, Tülay Hatimoğulları, presented a parliamentary inquiry today to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, raising questions on the kidnapping of hundreds of Kurdish women and girls by Turkish-backed militias in Afrin, northern Syrian. According Hatimoğulları some of the kidnapped Kurdish women were taken to western Libya for sexual enslavement by the leaders of Syrian militias.

(Libya, 5 January 2021) – Sky News Arabia website reported that Turkey recently witnessed parliamentary movements to investigate the shocking testimonies published on 23 December by Kurdish women who escaped from Afrin, and were raped and sold as militia slaves—some of whom were transferred to Libya.

Tülay Hatimoğulları at the Turkish Parliament.

TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTRY ASKED TO INVESTIGATE ALLEGATIONS

Tülay Hatimoğulları asked the Turkish Foreign Minister during her intervention in Parliament: “Are you investigating the claims that girls and women from Afrin were sent to Libya as slaves? Is your ministry aware of the sexual assaults in Afrin’s camps and prisons? Will it take the necessary measures to address these rights violations? Will it carry out coordinated activities with international organizations in this regard?”

Sky News Arabia website reported that Turkey recently witnessed parliamentary movements to investigate the shocking testimonies published on 23 December by Kurdish women who escaped from Afrin, and were raped and sold as militia slaves—some of whom were transferred to Libya.

The Turkish MP, who became the first lawmaker to put the issue on the Turkish Parliament’s agenda, confirmed Ankara’s judicial responsibility and connivance regarding these criminal acts by militants backed by Erdogan’s regime.

The report indicated that the horrific kidnappings hit Turkish news headlines recently, which revealed testimonies of survivors from the Afrin region northwest Syria on the presence of hospitals in Ankara-controlled area which were full of the corpses of kidnapped women and girls who were being accused of supporting terrorism or being a threat to Turkish state security.

Moreover, it also explained that the story first broke out with the testimonies obtained on the torture of women in camps in northern Syria. There were reports of the presence of other women detained as prisoners who had been abused and raped by extremist armed groups, which receive substantial support from the Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s government led by Erdogan.

In a report in December 2020, also published by Sky News Arabia, it said: “After Turkey occupied Afrin, centers, institutions and schools turned into secret hostage centers. The testimonies of survivors revealed that the violent rape crimes stained the ground.” It quoted the testimonies that “the rape, captivity and oppression of the Kurdish women in Afrin are carried out with the light, approval of Turkey, and dozens of women are killed daily, especially the minors, and they are financially extorted, raped and brutally subjected to violence and abuse like never before.”

KIDNAPPED KURDISH WOMEN SENT TO LIBYA

“These testimonies have been documented by the Missing Afrin Women Project, which tracks the disappearance of Kurdish women and girls in Afrin since 2018. The project also revealed that hundreds of young girls were abducted and taken to Turkey through military crossing points on the border with Syria and sold as sex slaves to merchants and then sent to Libya,” the report added.

“More than 1,000 women and girls are believed to be missing in Afrin alone after Turkey’s two-month Operation Olive Branch, which expelled the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the region two years ago.”

These testimonies have been documented by the Missing Afrin Women Project, which tracks the disappearance of Kurdish women and girls in Afrin since 2018. The project also revealed that hundreds of young girls were abducted and taken to Turkey through military crossing points on the border with Syria and sold as sex slaves to merchants and then sent to Libya.

Ibrahim Sheikho, the official spokesperson for the Afrin Organisation for Human Rights, said: “The Turkish occupation authorities, and the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) that is affiliated to Ankara and based in Libya, are using all methods to harass the people of the occupied Afrin region through arrest and abduction campaigns, which also affect minor girls.”

In a statement to Sky News Arabia, Sheikho pointed out that these acts go beyond all limits of human rights violations, and the dilemma is that most of these incidents remain secret due to the nature of local customs, traditions and embarrassment, as well as due to fear of reprisals.

GIRLS AS YOUNG AS 13 ABDUCTED BY TURKISH-BACKED MILITIAS

He added there was recently the case of a 13-year-old Kurdish girl who was abduction by an armed group belonging to Sultan Murad Division about a month and a half ago from her home in Zaidiyyah in Afrin.

The name of the girl was kept undisclosed due to social and security considerations. Sheikho explained that the minor girl had been subjected to sexual violence by the kidnapping armed group and was taken to hospital following complications after the brutal rape, and she disappeared soon after.

Furthermore, he indicated that the abduction of women, especially minor girls, will remain the most painful and confidential of issues, and that the situation sadly continues despite the information being published in Human Rights reports and articles in the media. He said action needs to be taken urgently.

LIBYAN HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS SILENT

The Turkish-backed militias responsible for the kidnappings in Afrin are Ahrar al Sharqiyah, Failaq al Sham, the Hamza Division, Jabhat al Shamiyah, and the Sultan Murad Division—all of which have their men to Libya to support the militias of the Government of National Accord (GNA). The stories of abuse are similar to what was committed by ISIS against Yazidi women.

Libyan NGO organisations, along with international ones, have failed to question the presence of Syrian mercenaries which are backed by Turkey with the blessing of the GNA. The Lawyers For Justice In Libya (LJFL), which is closely connected to UNSMIL and headed by Elham Saudi, who also happens to be a member of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF), has not issued any reports on Turkish-backed Syrian mercenaries or even raised preliminary concerns.

The concern, however, was raised by US AFRICOM, which in its April-June 2020 report for US Congress highlighted that Turkey-backed Syrian National Army (SNA)  jihadists and mercenaries were sexually assaulting Libyan women. 

Incidents of conflict-related sexual violence and kidnapping by armed groups remain severely underreported as a result of fear, intimidation and stigma which are connected to discriminatory gender norms.

UNSMIL has been silent on the continued and open deployment of Syrian mercenaries and terrorists by Turkey to Libya Their number have reached 18,000 with reports of more on the way.

© AlMarsad English (2021)

FURTHER LINKS

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Former Pentagon Official Says Erdogan Utilizes ISIS to Fight in Libya