The Bashar al-Assad regime’s practice of leasing out crop fields in Hama and Idlib through so-called auctions without the consent of displaced landowners is “illegal and unacceptable”. It hinders the voluntary return of Syrian refugees, according to experts.
An Assad regime law required that all citizens submit their property ownership claims in person within a month, otherwise unclaimed properties could be confiscated.
The regime started to implement the practice in rural areas of Idlib and Hama.
Using regime security forces and Baath Party executives, committees have been transferring the use of the lands identified since June 2020 to regime supporters through “auctions.”
Property owners’ requests to transfer the use of the properties to people they want or give power of attorney are mainly rejected.
In a recent report, the Syrian Network for Human Rights underlined that the regime aims to seize 570,000 acres of land in the suburbs of Idlib and Hama through three separate public auctions.
“The Syrian regime tries to steal land and property through procedures that appear to be legal, such as through auctions, but in reality, they further violate the rights of the forcibly displaced, which are guaranteed by international humanitarian law and international human rights law,” said Fadel Abdul Ghany, the group’s director.
Abdul Ghany said that it is impossible for them to consider returning refugees in these circumstances, adding that the regime does not want displaced Syrians or refugees to return either.
Assad moves discourage refugees from returning
Ayman Al Dassouky, a researcher at Istanbul-based Omran Center for Strategic Studies, said: “These laws passed by the regime are contrary to the articles of its own Constitution.”
Al Dassouky said that the regime’s call to displaced civilians to return and the exclusionary and vengeful steps it has taken on the ground do not match.
“It seems that the regime only allows the return of those who don’t oppose it,” he said, adding that it wants to create a demographic structure that supports it and doesn’t pose a threat to its future existence.
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.