People of Afrin keeps hope alive in their hearts

NEWS CENTER - People of Afrin, who continue their struggle for survival in different camps despite heavy attacks and embargo, always keep the hope of returning to their land alive.
Turkey and affiliated paramilitary groups launched an attack on the city of Afrin in Northern and Eastern Syria on January 20, 2018. While a great resistance was put up against the attacks at every point for 58 days, more than 300 thousand people had to migrate from the city moved to Shehba and Aleppo. Camps such as Berxwedan, Serdem and Shehba were established for the displaced people of Afrin. However, attacks on the camps continued uninterruptedly in the following period.
Zeynep Boran, a journalist working in the region, wrote an analysis for our agency. Boran's analysis is as follows;
Turkey still constantly targets the Veger and Shehba camps. Shehba was liberated from Al Nusra and ISIS by YPG-YPJ fighters in 2017. The largest city of the Shehba region, which consists of many villages and towns located between Afrin Canton and Aleppo city, is Til Rifet.
Even when we read the news about Afrin today, the chilling attacks of that period remain vivid in our memories. After 58 days of resistance with thousands of paramilitary groups, warplanes and heavy weapons, the hopeful light suddenly turned into pitch darkness. After 58 days, which I believe have gone down in history and which we call the "Resistance of the Age", life has completely changed for the people of Afrin. The difficult journey of those who stayed in Afrin and those who migrated to Shehba, Aleppo and other parts of Rojava began.
"Is it difficult to stay in Afrin or to emigrate?" The only answer to the question is "All our struggle is for Afrin." Undoubtedly, in my conversations with women who are fighting the struggle, they state that life in Afrin under the shadow of Turkey-affiliated paramilitary groups is worse than hell and that they have not even been able to come to the door for the last two years.
Afrin was like an oasis of freedom and democracy during the days when Syria turned into a bloodbath and suffered heavy destruction. It was one of the first regions where PKK Leader Abdullah Ocalan's paradigm was embodied in the most concrete way. There was no attack against Turkey from Afrin. Nobody had the intention or preparation to fight or conflict with Turkey. Turkey attacked Afrin completely unilaterally and on the axis of "hostility towards Kurds". Erdogan had decided that he would do everything to prevent the Kurds from having a status in Syria at any cost.
After the occupation of Afrin, Turkey and its affiliated paramilitary groups committed and continue to commit serious crimes against humanity and war. Last March alone, more than 35 citizens, including women and children, were kidnapped, tortured and ransomed. Likewise, in the first month of 2024, crimes such as murder, kidnapping, rape, sexual assault, detention, torture and confiscation of people's property were committed in Afrin and the occupied regions. In January and February, 8 Kurd citizens were murdered and 80 people from Afrin, including 11 women and 8 children, were kidnapped. Paramilitary groups affiliated with Turkey also cut down more than 2,400 trees in Afrin at the beginning of this year alone.
Of course, the war and humanity crimes of Turkey and its affiliated paramilitary groups are not limited to this. There is also a systematic policy of cultural genocide and intense attacks aimed at changing the demographic structure in Afrin. According to our research; Turkey is implementing demographic change by building more than 35 "colonial houses" so far. It places paramilitary groups and their families in these colonial houses. This is a strategic step towards changing the demographic structure and creating an Arab Belt against the Kurd presence.
The number of families of paramilitary groups brought from all over Syria and settled in Afrin has reached 9 thousand. While the population of Kurds in Afrin was 95 percent before the attacks, this rate has now dropped to 20 percent due to the forced displacement of people and crimes committed in the region. Despite all the crimes, the United Nations (UN) has not taken a clear decision against Turkey. However, crimes committed in Afrin, such as changing the demographic structure, texture and history of the region, are clearly contrary to Article 56 of the 1907 Hague Convention. The crimes committed in Afrin are clearly against international law.
Despite all this, the people of Afrin, who were displaced from their homes and have been in camps for 6 years, always keep their fight against Turkey and affiliated paramilitary groups and their hope of returning to their lands alive. Without exception, every valuable conversation ends with the phrase "Em ê teqez vegerin Efrîna xwe (We will definitely return to our Efrîn)". Despite all the attacks and the heavy embargo of the Damascus regime, there is a tremendous struggle for survival in the Shehba camps. In the eyes of hundreds of children who opened their eyes to the world in the camps, they also see the sadness of not growing up in their own land. On the one hand, it is possible to see the hope of returning to Afrin.
The most vivid reflection of the hope of returning to Afrin came to the fore in Aleppo and Shehba Newroz. The Newroz fire lit with the participation of tens of thousands of people became a fire of struggle against today's Dehaks. The dynamic youth of Afrin, who pioneered this struggle, once again repeated their promise to increase the resistance in Newroz.