Urgent Appeal of Faysal Sarıyıldız on the Curfews Implemented by the Turkish Government

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Urgent Appeal
                                                                                                                26 September 2015

Dear Colleague,

I am writing to you from a geography where artillery shells fired from tanks fall next to us, where cruelty of war and violence, all forms of brutality have become daily routine for a longtime and where weapons and death have consumed relevance of all words. For days and months now; there is a de facto martial law in place and fundamental human rights and freedoms are suspended. People are literally imprisoned in their basements, their houses torn down under artillery fire, people are showered by bullets, shot and killed by snipers in the middle of the streets.  Their bodies are left on the streets and could not be picked up for days neither by medical workers nor their families. The name of this geography is Kurdistan.

The democratic resolution and peace negotiation process that began between the state and PKK in the year 2013 was completely suspended by the President of the Republic of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on April 2015. Mr. Erdoğan not only suspended the peace and resolution process, but also dictated his decision upon AKP government and launched a new brutal and bloody process. The demand of Kurdish people to live within the existing borders of the Republic of Turkey along with other peoples by a regime of self-governance—based on peace, equality, democracy and freedom—is brutally and cruelly crashed by the state. The Kurdish people openly revealed their demand for a status secured within the framework of a newly written constitution based on freedom and democracy via their declarations of self-governance. In return, the state has responded to this demand of Kurdish people with artillery shells, tanks and all out war. Certainly, civilians are paying the heaviest price in the face of these brutal attacks of the Turkish state.

The state, upon the declarations of self-governance in the Kurdish provinces by Kurdish people, announced curfews 54 times in total, in tens of neighbourhoods of 18 districts in 7 provinces. The total number of days the curfews had been in place already reached 231 days. One-hundred-and-twenty-four people were killed by the state security forces throughout these curfews. With these curfews, our identity and honour in the Kurdish region are trampled upon and we are asked to kneel before this murderous regime. Our lives, our history, our future, our labour and bread are being brutally destroyed.

They say there is a curfew. So, we stay at home and get killed by artillery fires. When we go out on the street, the snipers kill us. They kill us no matter what we do. Yet, arent the streets for children? outcries a child from Cizre, demonstrating clearly the isolation of life in the streets of Kurdish region today in the hands of the state.

I am an elected member of parliament from the province of Şırnak in which the districts of Cizre and Silopi are two of the places seriously affected by the curfew and the state’s attacks. Please allow me to briefly summarize to you the overall picture in these two districts: The curfew has been announced 5 times in Cizre. The total number of days the state imposed curfew has been in place adds up to 26 days. The most recent curfew was announced on 14 December 2015, and it still continues as I write this letter to you. Nineteen civilians including a child and a 3-month-old baby have been killed just in the most recent and continuing curfew. The number of civilians killed by state security forces has reached 51 people in total since July 2015.

In Silopi, the other district of Şırnak the curfew had been announced 3 times and the number of days that it had been in place reached more than 15 days in total. The most recent curfew was announced on 14 December 2015. Twenty-six people had been killed during the most recent and ongoing curfew.

Due to the extent of the censorship imposed by the AKP government, the mainstream Turkish media either remains completely silent, or services this destruction in the towns and districts where the curfew is imposed by distorting and manipulating the facts. Hundreds of grave human rights violations are taking place that falls within the scope of war crimes under the context of international law. I would like to share with you only few of these violations hidden from both the Turkish society and the international community.

Taybet İnan, a 55-years-old woman and mother of 11 children, was killed by the police in the middle of the street in Silopi. Her body remained right in the middle of the street for days before it could be taken to the hospital morgue on the 7th day. Her family and medical workers were fired at by the police as they attempted to pick up her body. There are 6 bodies in different neighbourhoods of Silopi waiting to be picked up and buried for 7 days due to the imposed curfew and the attacks of the Turkish state security forces. Güler Yanalak was 8 months old pregnant when she was shot in the stomach in Cizre. She was injured heavily and lost her baby.

As I was writing this letter to you, an artillery shell had hit a house nearby, causing death of a 4-month-old baby. The grandparents and the ambulance were fired at by the state security forces as they were trying to carry the baby to the ambulance. The grandfather also died in the hospital. There is neither electricity nor drinking water for days now in the neighbourhoods where thousands of people live. At times, more than 100 people forced to take shelter in a basement of a single house to seek refuge from ongoing artillery shelling and tanks.

The Kurdish people carrying out an all-out struggle against the fascist ISIS forces are now also facing a major massacre by the Turkish state. The Kurdish people want to live in peace where their demands for the right to mother-tongue and self-governance are secured by the constitution. Unfortunately, the AKP government and the president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan responded to this demand with large-scale massacre and extensive brutality.

The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), of which I am also an elected member, continues to believe and insist that the resolution of Kurdish question is still possible on the basis of democratic politics and negotiations, securing right to self-governance and right to education in mother-tongue, which will bring lasting peace, justice and equality. The continuation of denial, assimilation and violence policies of AKP government increases the social costs of the Kurdish question and gradually destroys the aspirations of peace for the Kurdish people.

With the restart of the process of Turkeys accession to Europe Union membership, AKP government conceals the war policies imposed on the Kurdish region under the disguise of reform policies implemented within the framework of EU. Yet, there is no implementation of democratic reforms, nor does the state act in accordance with the basic EU norms and standards. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that while Turkeys EU membership is being negotiated, the right to life, the right to education in mother-tongue, the right to self-governance and a long list of universal rights and freedoms of the Kurdish people are being brutally violated and ruthlessly suppressed. We have serious concerns that if the escalation of violence continues at this scale, the situation might eventually evolve into a civil war, and the 21th century will be marked by the genocide of the Kurdish people. Thus, with a strong belief and trust that the EU and the international community will not turn a blind eye to the developments in the region, I ask for your hand and support in solidarity with Kurdish people.

Sincerely yours,

Faysal SARIYILDIZ
Member of Parliament, Şırnak
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)

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