After the failure of the ‘Syrian armed opposition’, backed by Ankara, to enter the city of Afrin after besieging it for years, in March 2018 Turkey launched a direct military operation which ended with the occupation of Afrin. The same scenario was repeated in the cities of Tal Abyad (Girê Spî) and Ras al-Ain (Serê Kaniyê), where the Turkish army imposed its control over the two cities, because the Kurds and their local allies from the Arab tribes, Syriac, Circassian and Armenian contingents in the ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ coalition were able to defeat various terrorist armed organisations such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, or Daesh) and the so-called ‘Free Syrian Army’.
The Turkish government lead by the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) is trying, in various ways, to prolong the Syrian war, simply because Turkey benefits from this war. It has been seeking, for years, to exterminate the Syrian Kurds, as it did with the Armenians a century ago. In order to totally aim to eliminate a people living on its historic lands, Turkey has used armed gangs loyal to it and the Muslim Brotherhood to commit the most heinous massacres against the Syrian Kurds, whilst also directly targeting Yazidi Kurds, Armenian Christians and Syriacs.
Currently, Turkish state media has been trying to distort and falsify the facts about the situation in Afrin. On 19 February 2021, Turkish state channel ‘TRT World’ broadcast a report in the English language about the Yazidi Kurds in the occupied city of Afrin, who turned into a distinct minority after large numbers of Yazidis fled during the Turkish attack on Afrin in early 2018 and consequently, as a result of harassment by Syrian armed terrorist groups that have been cooperating with the Turkish army.
Misinformation, misrepresentation, and falsification
The state-run channel report contained a lot of misinformation, misrepresentation, and falsification. The presentation of Mirza Mirza, a resident of the “Alfaqer” Yazidi village, was also problematic in a number of respects. His participation in the report was in Arabic, but through technical processing, the producers reduced the voice of the Yazidi Kurdish citizen, while the voice of the English-language commentator was so loud that the viewer could not work out the words that Mirza was saying.
The fabrications in the report also stated that “the Yazidi fled in 2013 as a result of PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) terrorism”. These fabrications were attributed to Mirza Mirza, but this seems to be totally untrue. The Yazidina foundation, a Yazidi media organisation, has confirmed that the TRT report distorted the words of Miraz Miraz and did not translate his words accurately. He said: “The Yazidis fled Aleppo in 2013 as a result of the Syrian regime’s battles”. However, the channel misrepresented his testimony and did not accurately translate his words. It seems clear that it wanted to discredit the PKK by changing Miraz Miraz’s statement in its report.
The Yazidina foundation also noted that Yazidis have been displaced from some of the neighbourhoods they resided in whilst in Aleppo, such as Ashrafieh and Sheikh Maqsood, after a conflict took place between the Syrian regime and terrorist groups. On 31 January 2013, the terrorist groups took control of the Kurdish neighbourhoods of Aleppo, which led to the deaths of more than 40 Kurdish citizens who belonged to the Yazidi faith. Kurdish neighbourhoods in Aleppo were deliberately targeted in 2013, forcing most Kurds to flee Aleppo towards Afrin, Kobane and other Syrian Kurdish cities.
The Yazidina foundation has responded to the Turkish satellite channel report by accusing it of deliberately distorting the statement of the Yazidi civilian, which contradicts the ethics of journalism. In addition, the Yazidi civilian who appeared in the report was reportedly previously arbitrarily arrested by the Syrian armed gangs supported by Ankara, with whom they share control of the city of Afrin.
The Yazidina foundation also accused Turkish state media of forcing Yazidi civilians in Afrin to provide false testimony about ‘their reality’ in the city. It is important to note that the Yazidi foundation has documents that confirm the terrible violations of human rights that are being committed against Yazidis in Afrin. They include forced conversions to Islam, the building of mosques within Yazidi villages, and abducting women. These findings are consistent with those that have been presented in the report by the United Nations’ International Independent Investigation Commission.
The Yazidi foundation also appealed to the international community and all foreign institutions to be cautious about the media materials published by the Turkish government that claim to portray the ‘reality’ of life in the occupied Syrian territories. The foundation further stated that Ankara is responsible, through its sponsored military gangs known as the so-called ‘Syrian National Army’, for the most heinous violations against civilians in the city of Afrin, Rasal-Ain and Tal Abyad.