STJ continues to document the ongoing arrests by the National Army- of the Interim Syrian Government- and its organs in Syria’s Kurdish-majority city of Afrin. In March 2020, more than 43 people, including 5 women, were arrested on various charges. However, 12 of them, including two women, were bailed out, others were transferred to central prisons, while the fate of the remaining 31, among them three women, is still unknown as of the date of this report.
STJ would like to note that the Afrin districts covered in the arrest statistics it made in March 2020 were; Afrin, Jindires, Sharran, Rajo and Maabatli, while it couldn’t document those made in Shaykh Al Hadid and Bulbul.
|According to witnesses and STJ field researchers, bulk of the arrests were made by the Civil Police and the Military Police, while the Political Security, the Levant Front/al-Jabha al-Shamiya, Ahrar al-Sharqiya, the Sham Legion/Failaq al-Sham, the Sultan Murad Division, the Hamza/Hamzat Division, Suleiman Shah Brigade (also known as al-Amshat), the Conquest Brigade/al-Fatah Brigade and the Muntasir Billah Brigade were the responsible for the rest.|
Many locals and witnesses confirmed to STJ field researchers that the arrests were made arbitrarily and did not respect due process. Besides, those arrested hadn’t been informed of the charges against them by written notices or orally, nor their families.
It’s important to note that on March 31, 2020, the Directorate of Security of Afrin-affiliated to the police force and the national general security- decided to arrest Rami Tlas, the Afrin Security Director, on corruption and sexual harassment charges and he was taken to Ankara for investigation.
1. Arrests in Afrin:
The district of Afrin witnessed the arrest of 16 people, including five women during March 2020. Two men and two women of them were released, while the other 12 are still unaccounted for as of the date of this report.
The arrests in Afrin were conducted by the Military Security, the Levant Front, the Sham Legion, the Sham Legion, the Hamzat Division, the Civil Police and the Military Police;
- On March 1, at Afrin city center, a patrol of the Military Police arrested Ismail Wazeero,70, the Mayor of al-Ashrafīyah neighborhood, from the local council building of the Syrian Interim Government. Ismail was arrested for a week on charges of having links with the Autonomous Administration. it is noted that Ismail was arrested and bailed out twice last year.
- On March 8, a patrol of the Civil Police arrested Shereen Mohammad, 21, from her home near Maratah roundabout for serving formerly in one of the Autonomous Administration’s institutions.
- On March 11, the Military Police arrested Abdeen Utna from his home in al-Ashrafīyah neighborhood on charges of dealing with institutions of the Autonomous Administration; his fate is still unknown.
- On March 18, a patrol of the Levant Front arrested Habash Bahjat Habash from his work place in the industrial area, on the allegation of repairing military vehicles during the period of the Autonomous Administration control, and his fate remains unknown.
- On March 20, a patrol of the Military Police with police dogs raided the home of Ali Shero in al-Zaidiya neighborhood, arresting him along with his wife and children on charges of selling drugs. The wife and children, however, were later released but Ali is still unaccounted for.
- On March 24, a patrol of the Civil Police arrested Keebar Mohammad Kolsh, 35, from her home in al-Mahmodiyah neighborhood for serving formerly in one of the Autonomous Administration’s institutions. Keebar was taken to Maratah central prison and is still awaiting trial.
- On March 5, a patrol of the Civil Police arrested, separately, the two Yezidi women, Kolah Hassan and her daughter Ghazalah Battal, 20, from their home in the village of Birj Abdalo, and they were taken to a prison in the village of Iskan and their fate remains unknown.
In the same context, the media and human rights organization Ezdina published information confirming the arrests of Yezidi women and girls during March 2020 and earlier months:
- The arrest of Roya Mustafa, 15, on Novemebr 16, 2019, for 20 days.
- The arrest of Lura Hussein, 19, from the village of Faqeero on February 6, 2020, for 11 days.
- The arrest of Areen Hassan, 21, from the village of Kimar on February 27, 2020. She is still held.
- The arrest of Ghazala Battal from the village of Birj Abdalo on March 3, 2020. She is still held.
- The arrest of Kolah Hassan (mother of Ghazala Battal) from the village of Birj Abdalo on March 9, 2020 and she is still held with her daughter.
- On Mach 8, a patrol of the Civil Police raided the village of Turinde arresting four young men for performing the self-defense duty during the period of the Autonomous Administration’s control. Only one of them was released, namely Naser Hekmah, in exchange for paying a sum of money, while the other three; Mustafa Za’o, Abdu Fadu and ayoung man from Jolu family, were transferred to the central prison of Maratah.
- On March 9, Salah Eibo, 40, a relief worker in Bahar Organization, was arrested-for unknown reasons- at a checkpoint of the Civil Police at the Qarer-Turinde junction in the village of Kerzayhel, and he was transferred to the central prison of Maratah.
- On March 10, the Hamzat Division arrested Sheraz Saleh, who hails from the village of Kafr Dali and lives in the village of Kerzayhel, for dealing, previously, with the Autonomous Administration and he is still unaccounted for.
- On March 27, members of the Sham Legion arrested Hafiz Hussein Barakat, a shepherd, from the village of Kabashin, on charges of communicating with the Autonomous Administration and providing it with information about the Legion’s military sites, as the village lies on the lines of contact between the Autonomous Administration-controlled areas and the Syrian National Army. Hafiz’ fate remains unknown.
2. Arrests in Jindires:
Jindires district witnessed the arrest of three people by the Military Police and the Ahrar al-Sharqiya group, who released two of them later but concealed the fate of the remaining one:
- On March 1, a patrol of the Military Police arrested Lawnd Mohammad Nour Hussein from his home in Afrin, for dealing with the Autonomous Administration. however, he was bailed out after two weeks.
- On March 4, the Ahrar al-Sharqiya group arrested Hori Hori, 30, from the village of Eshkan Gharbi, for performing the self-defense duty during the period of the Autonomous Administration’s control. Hori was handed over to the Military Police in Jindires. It is reported that the young man had returned to the village recently from Lebanon where he had displaced earlier.
- On March 19, the Military police arrested Shiyar Sulieman Hallaq, 25, from the Hemam border crossing, where he works as an interpreter. Shiyar was taken to Afrin central prison and released on March 31.
3. Arrests in Maabatli:
The Civil Police, the Military Police, the Levant Front and the Suleiman Shah Brigade conducted 14 arrests against young men in the district of Maabatli; only three were released while the fate of the rest is yet unknown:
- On March 7, members of the Suleiman Shah Brigade arrested Mohammad Hussein Abdu, Sameer Faiq and Manan Abu from the village of Yakhor on charges of dealing with the Autonomous Administration. The arrestees were taken to a detention center of the Brigade in the same village and released the next day after paying varying amounts of fines.
- On March 17, the Levant Front arrested Shekhmos Mohammad Ali-who hails from the village of Arab Oshaghi- from a bus station in the city of Afrin. His whereabouts remain unknown.
- On March 28, the Levant Front arrested Bahjat Habash, from the village of Arab Oshaghi, while he was in the industrial area in the city of Afrin. He was held in a headquarters of the Levant Front near Kawa roundabout in the center of Afrin and is still unaccounted for.
- On March 20, a patrol of the Military Police arrested Ameen Ma’mo, Khalid Sheikh Na’san and Sedo Ameen from the village of Ifraz, after being sentenced to one year in prison, as they had been charged with joining the Core Protection Units (HPC) and waiting for judgement at large, but under observation.
- On March 22, a patrol of the Levant Front arrested Mohammad Khalil Nouri Hamo, from the village of Kondi Hussein for dealing with the Autonomous Administration, and he was released for a fine on March 27.
- On March 27 and 28, two patrols of the Civil Police arrested a number of young men from the village of Ein al-Hajar al-Kabeer on charges of dealing with the Autonomous Administration and serving in its institutions during its period of control. The arrestees were; Mazloum Ahmed Rashid, Othman Ezzat Othman, Djawar Ahmed Sheikho, Shukri Hanan Othman, and Mohammad Sabri Sheikho; they all were taken to the central prison of Maratah.
4. Arrests in Rajo:
Rajo district witnessed the arrest of three people during March 2020, by both the Conquest Brigade and the Muntasir Billah Brigade, and the fate of the arrestees remains unknown:
- On March 21, members of the Muntasir Billah Brigade arrested Natheer Shukri Ja’far and Ahmed Shukri Ja’far from the village of Omar Oshaghi, for unknown reasons. The Brigade requested $1000 in exchange for their release, however, both arrestees are still unaccounted for.
- On March 31, Murad Ahmed Battal was arrested-for reasons unknown- from his village Ma’mello Oshaghi by the controlling group there the Conquest Brigade, which continues to conceal his fate. It is noted that Murad had been arrested twice by the same Brigade and released after paying fines.
5. Arrests in Sharran:
Sherran district witnessed the arrest of nine people, six of them were later released while the fate of the remaining is yet unknown. The arrests were conducted by the Civil Police, the Military Police, the Levant Front and the Sultan Murad Division:
- On March 10, Juan Jameel, 27, from the village of Kafr Janneh, was arrested at a checkpoint of the Civil Police at the entrance to the city of Afrin, for performing the self-defense duty during the period of the Autonomous Administration’s control. He was released, however, for a fine after about two weeks.
- On March 23, a patrol of the Levant Front arrested Mohammad Anwar Hamdoush, 55, from the village of Kafr Janneh, on charges of dealing with the Autonomous Administration, and he was released a few days later.
- On March 21, a patrol of the Sultan Murad Division raided houses in the village of Jama, arresting three young men, namely; Juan Rasheed Haji, Fakhri Jamal Haj Yaseen and Ammar Rasheed, for unknown reasons. The patrol also robbed cell phones from houses, as reported by locals.
- On March 23 and 24, the two young men Ali Ibrahim and Mahmoud Sheikho, turned themselves in to the Military Police in the village of Qarah Tapah, as they were wanted for performing the self-defense duty; they both were transferred to the central prison of Maratah.
- On March 24, a patrol of the Levant Front arrested Mohammad Ezzat Khalil while working in his farm near the village of Ma’rsikah, on charges of dealing with the Autonomous Administration. Mohammad was taken to a detention center of the Front near Kawa roundabout in the center of Afrin and is still held there, noting that his relatives were allowed to visit him there.
- On March 27, members of the Sultan Murad Division arrested Abdo Sheikh Mousa, 41, from his home in the village of Qestal Kishik without disclosing reasons, and he was released the next day. STJ was informed by some locals that Abdo was arrested for refusing to leave his house for the Division to use it as a military headquarters.