Turkey: DI Calls For Immediate Lifting of Curfews Imposed In Kurdish Provinces

Press Release

Defend International

Turkey: DI Calls For Immediate Lifting of Curfews Imposed In Kurdish Provinces

Oslo, December 23, 2015 – Defend International denounces in the strongest possible terms the atrocities committed by the Turkish army against civilian Kurds in the Kurdish provinces.

In a move against the Turkish Constitution, Turkish district governors have imposed curfews in over 25 predominantly Kurdish cities/towns, including neighborhoods in Hani (e.g., Akçayurt, Aşağıturalı, Başaklı, Çay, Damlatepe, Güzelce, Horsel, Kaledibi, Karapilyar, Mezartarlası, Sıraevler, Taşburun, Yukarı Turalı), Lice (e.g., Ağılcık, Akçapınar, Ayaz, Birlik, Boyluca, Elmadere, Erginköy, Şakan, Şenlik, Şabek, Tuzlaköy, Uysal), Sur, Kerboran, Silopi, Cizre and Nisebin, all of which are located in the Kurdish provinces of Turkey.

According to recent reports some 10,000 Turkish troops are deployed in these provinces, making this operation the biggest-ever launched by Turkey in populated areas – worse than the operations launched when the martial laws imposed between 1978 and 1983. In some cases the curfews last for as long as four consecutive weeks. Army units and armored vehicles, including tanks, are operating in urban areas, systematically destroying residential areas, killing civilians, leaving buildings and schools (e.g., Nisan Primary School in Başak neighborhood in Cizre) on fire. DI members in Turkey have reported that over 300 houses have been partially or fully damaged by the constant shelling, and unexploded mortar shells are scattered in residential areas.

The civilians, men, women, children, including those with chronic diseases and the elderly are deprived from basic human rights. The humanitarian situation is alarming. Citizens are trapped in a war zone, hiding in the basements or under the staircases, holding their breath under the constant noise of shelling and machine-gun fire, waiting desperately for the world leaders to urge Turkey to end the curfews. The lack of shelter, food, water, sanitary conditions, electricity, education, medicine, medical care and other basic services has affected hundreds of thousands of civilians. The wounded are dying and the dead, many of whom are children, are wrapped in sheets and laid down inside the buildings.

DI members call for an immediate and unconditional lifting of the curfews in the Kurdish provinces and a total stop of the excessive use of force in residential areas. There is no doubt that the Turkish government is using terrorism as a pretext to justify grave violations of human rights. Today our members are reminding them that there is no justification and no tolerance for such violations of human rights.

In addition, we call on Turkey to return to the peace talks because peace is the way forward. The Turkish State cannot continue its violent policy against over 22 million Kurds who currently feel they are being targeted or harassed in Turkey.

We urge the United Nations and NATO to intervene immediately. We also call for an independent investigation into the killing of all civilians in order to prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes. The citizens must be compensated for the harm, whether physical, mental or emotional, they have suffered as a result of the current military operation. DI and its Network are documenting the violations and following the developments closely.

Defend International is NGO which has as its main objective the promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

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Photo credit: Bulent Kilic/AFP

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