In April 2020, journalist Rachel Avraham interviewed Dr. Widad Akreyi, co-founder of Defend International, on how Turkey is exploiting the coronavirus crisis to violate human rights in Rojava.
Dr. Widad said: “Ever since the coronavirus crisis has been emerging into a global pandemic, Turkey’s illegal hostile actions in Rojava have become more frequent. Exploiting the world’s preoccupation with the pandemic, Turkey and its jihadists have intensified their attacks in March and April by shelling villages in Tel Temir, Tel Abyad and Ain Issa with mortar and artillery fire.”
“They are terrorizing women and children, using every means at their disposal. There are reports of ongoing daily battles in Tel Abyad, Ain Issa and Tel Temir…. On April 16th, there were clashes between Turkey-backed Islamists and SDF, even though the coronavirus outbreak was supposed to put an end to the fighting. On April 17th Turkey-backed Islamist groups reportedly sent two children, disguised as shepherds, to detonate suicide vests on SDF in the west of Tel Abyad. The villages of Hmra, el-Kayf, Abosh, Qabir and Tel Ward have been bombed, injuring a number of civilian women.”
“We have recorded a long range of violations, including deliberate shelling of populated civilian targets and hitting civilian infrastructure (for example medical facilities). All this terror and violence have led to new displacement from the nearly 15 villages that have been under fire. The region is going through another wave of kidnappings for ransom, rapes of women and little children, human trafficking, sexual enslavement, enforced disappearances, abductions, assassinations, burning down of houses and orchards, looting and the constant search for what Turkey-jihadists call the ‘spoils of war.’”
“These actions demonstrate Turkey’s indifference to international law and its disregard to the Geneva conventions. During its invasions in 2019 and 2018, Turkey did all this and more. It is now repeating the same. Therefore, many women have nothing but a painful story to tell. Mothers and grandmothers are once again escaping Turkey’s bombs with just the clothes they are wearing. Their houses and factories have been seized by Turkey-backed jihadists. They have lost almost everything. The only thing they have left is their lives, and that may be taken from them either by the Turkish aggression or the vicious virus.”
Journalist Rachel Avraham concluded her article, saying “Although many nations right now are more focused on surviving the coronavirus more than anything else, we all have a moral responsibility to not neglect to raise awareness about these human rights abuses at this critical hour. “