The Round-the-Clock “Curfews” in Kurdish Provinces of Turkey

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To Whom It May Concern,

The round-the-clock “curfews” (read: indefinite military siege of entire settlements) in Kurdish cities of Turkey since August 2015 continue with full force, which is a clear violation of the Turkish law and Constitution. As of March 23, 2016, sixty-one “curfews” were declared in 7 cities and 21 towns for a total of 649 days. Currently, the city of Şırnak, five neighborhoods in Sur district of Diyarbakir, and the towns of İdil, Yüksekova and Nusaybin are held under round-the-clock “curfews,” while nighttime curfews continue in Cizre and Silopi between 7:30pm and 5:00am. At least 487 civilians have been killed in “curfew zones” alone since August 2015. Together with these casualties, the politics of war initiated by the AKP government have caused the death of at least 749 civilians, including 97 children and 96 women.

It is impossible to account for the state’s politics of violence in Kurdish provinces in terms of “fighting terror.” What is involved in here is rather a total war against Kurdish people’s political will and demand for autonomous self-rule. As part of this war, entire towns have been razed to the ground by heavy military offensives, while hundreds of thousands of Kurds have been forced to evacuate their homes. In Cizre, many of about two hundred people, including dozens of wounded who were to be transferred to hospitals, were burnt alive in residential cellars, where they had taken refuge from bombardments. Even corpses have been insulted and tortured. Dead bodies of women victims were repeatedly exposed in multiple Kurdish towns. More than one hundred corpses could not be identified due to the severity of bodily decomposition and tissue putrefaction caused by burns and post-mortem blows. In short, the state maintains this war in dire disrespect of any national or international legal arrangements or ethical norms. The atrocities of war, especially in Silopi, Sur, İdil and Cizre, have caused immense pain and emotional split among Kurds, severely damaging their faith in and will to living together.

While the atrocities in Cizre, Sur, İdil and Silopi are still going on, new round-the-clock curfews were declared in Şırnak, Yüksekova and Nusaybin on March 13, 2016. For the past ten days, Turkish military and special police units have been constantly attacking these towns by heavy artillery. There is yet no sign of when and how these military attacks will end. Nonetheless, it is certain that responding Kurdish demands for autonomous self-rule with heavy weaponry, tanks and bombs will achieve nothing but further gangrene the Kurdish conflict and eliminate possibilities for a peaceful resolution. That is why “curfews” in Şırnak, Yüksekova, Nusaybin and other Kurdish settlements must be immediately lifted and a dialogue channel must be opened.

Turkey has been radically destabilized socially, economically and politically due to the state’s politics of war in Kurdish provinces, the series of bombing incidents that started in Diyarbakir and Suruc and continued in Ankara and Istanbul, killing hundreds of citizens and foreign tourists, and President Erdogan’s intensifying authoritarian policies towards establishing a “Turkish type presidential system” by suspending most basic rights and freedoms. The international community and actors should be extremely sensitive to the war in the Kurdish provinces in Turkey and increasing authoritarianism of President Erdogan for the establishment and maintenance of stability in the country and the region. Hence, we would like to invite all international institutions and actors see the peril of Turkey’s gradual dragging into a civil war, take a strong position in favor of freedom, peace and democracy to overcome the deepening political and humanitarian crisis in the country, and take immediate action to stop the atrocities committed in Şırnak, Yüksekova, Nusaybin and other Kurdish cities and towns.

Ms. Selma IRMAK, Member of Parliament for Hakkari and Co-chair of Democratic Society Congress
Mr. Nihat AKDOĞAN, Member of Parliament for Hakkari
Mr. Abdullah ZEYDAN, Member of Parliament for Hakkari
Mr. Faysal SARIYILDIZ, Member of Parliament for Şırnak
Ms. Leyla BİRLİK, Member of Parliament for Şırnak
Mr. Ferhat ENCU, Member of Parliament for Şırnak
Ms. Aycan İRMEZ, Member of Parliament for Şırnak
Mr. Mithat SANCAR, Member of Parliament for Mardin
Ms. Gülser YILDIRIM, Member of Parliament for Mardin
Mr. Ali ATALAN, Member of Parliament for Mardin
Mr. Erol DORA, Member of Parliament for Mardin
Mr. Hişyar ÖZSOY, Member of Parliament for Bingöl and Vice Co-chair of HDP in Charge of Foreign Affairs

23 March 2016

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