Al-Ghab Plain Farmers’ Deprived of their Lands
Assad’s forces control over the villages of al-Ghab Plain in rural Hama, for the past a few years, did not only lead to the total destruction of most of them but it also led to the acquisition of their farmers’ lands by the people of neighboring pro-regime villages.
Al-Hakoura, al-Touta, al-Tamanah, al-Ramla, Qabr Fidda, al-Achrafieh, and al-Karim are all villages which Assad’s forces managed to destroy completely and to absorb their lands in the al-Ghab Plain, famous for its fertile soil and various crops, including wheat, barley, corn, legume and different types of vegetables.
Al-Chab Plain is located in the governorate of Hama, between Mount Zāwiya and Shashabo Mountain in the east, as well as the Syrian Coastal Mountain Range and Kurd Mountains in the west, in addition to Jisr al-Shughur in the north and Masyaf in the south. Through the Plain, which length ranges from 10 to 15 meters, the two channels of al-Asi River pass, it is also inhabited by the different Syrian denominations.
90% of the Villagers Work in Agriculture
In May 2012, Tamana al-Ghab village, after Assad’s forces took control over it, was the first to witness displacement; the people moved to the neighboring villages of the Ghab Plain, Mount Zāwiya and the ones in the east of the highway, according to the Director of the Village’s Local Council, Hussam Afan, who confirmed that when Assad’s forces came into control, the farmers failed to plant their lands, the area of which is about 5200 dunums.
The media activist, Hafez al-Hamwi, assured that Assad’s forces have displaced the people of al-Ghab Plain villages and prevented them from investing their agricultural lands, which are their basic source of income, as 90% of the people work in agriculture.
Enab Baladi interviewed Emmad Bunian, one of the people displaced from al-Karim village, who said that he owns 20 dunums of agricultural land, located between the villages of al-Karim and al-Barid, under the Syrian regime. After the regime’s control expanded to reach his own village, he failed to plant his own land. In addition to this, the land was absorbed by the people of the al-Barid village, after they have paid a sum of money to elements of the “National Defence Forces.”
Syrian Regime’s Loyalists are Investing the Lands
Farmer Emmad was not alone in the situation, which applies to the rest of al-Ghab Plain’s displaced farmers, for all the lands located to the west of al-Ramla, Qabr Fidda, al-Achrafieh and al-Karim, have been absorbed by the National Defense Forces and rented to the farmers of the neighboring villages, according to the Director of Qabr Fidda’s Local Council Abdel Moin El Masry, who said that the situation did not stop at this limit, however, soil has been transferred to the Syrian coast due to its quality.
As for the lands that are militarily controlled by Assad’s forces, the people interviewed by Enab Baladi confirmed that royalties have been imposed to allow the landowners the right to plant them, and in case they refused, they would be targeted by machine guns to compel them to pay the demanded sum; this forced the farmers to pay about one thousand Syrian pounds for each planted dunum.