CAFRIN, Syria — A Turkish charity association backed by the State of Kuwait and the Turkish state has been building a residential settlement for Syrians from other parts of the country in a predominantly Yezidi village in the Cafrin (Afrin) countryside, according to the Ezdina Organization which has been monitoring human rights violations in Turkish occupied Cafrin.
The settlement will include public facilities, a mosque, a health center, and a village administration center. It will be built by the White Hands Association, which defines itself as a charity association.
According to the White Hands Association, it has 45 partners supporting its projects, including the Kuwaiti Sheikh Abdullah Abdullah Al-Nouri Charity Association, the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs in the state of Kuwait, the International Islamic Charity Organization, and the Qatari Ruhama’a.
The Yezidi village, Shaderah (Sheikh al-Deir), is inhabited primarily by Yezidis and some Kurdish Muslims.
Yezidis from the village are routinely harassed and subjected to human rights violations. Civilian Nuri Omar Sharaf, known as Nuri Jammu Omar, born in 1958, was killed with a bullet to the head at his home in the village on 13 August 2020, according to Ezdina Organization. Sharaf was arrested in August 2019 by the “Sham Legion”, a member of the Turkish-backed SNA, and was subjected to brutal physical torture. His sons paid approximately $ 12,000 USD to the militants in exchange for his release.
The same Turkish organization is also constructing a school on the site of a Yezidi cultural center deliberately bombed by the Turkish Air Force in 2018.
استمرار اعمال بناء مدرسة #عفرين للتعليم الاساسي، حيث يتم العمل في مرحلة تبليط الارضية.
بالتعاون مع جمعية الشيخ عبد الله النوري الخيرية @AlNouriCharity
، دولة #الكويت
وتنفيذ جمعية #الأيادي_البيضاء pic.twitter.com/ijdaxJwW45
— جمعية الأيادي البيضاء (@BeyazEllerSYR) June 6, 2021
The areas under Turkish occupation since the country’s direct involvement in the Syrian conflict in 2016 have witnessed widespread looting and destruction of archaeological and cultural heritage sites. Gravesites and places of worship are desecrated and ravaged in the hunt for artifacts or precious metals.
In April, members of the Turkish-backed SNA desecrated a Yezidi holy place, the Sheikh Ali shrine, in the village of Basoufan, south of Cafrin. The dome of the shrine was destroyed, and the tomb of Sheikh Ali exhumed in search of gold and artifacts. According to a local Yezidi, the shrine dates back to the first century A.D.
Yezidis are often targeted by extremists for their religious practices. It is often believed that the Yazidis bury their dead adorned with gold, though no such custom exists.
The United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria released a 25-page report on Tuesday calling on Turkey to put an end to wide-spread war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed by its proxy forces, the SNA, in the areas under its occupation.
According to the report, there is significant evidence that the Turkish-backed SNA has committed, and continue to commit torture, murder, displacement, rape, and the looting of property.