Urgent letter of Mr. Hişyar Özsoy, HDP Vice co-Chair in charge of Foreign Affairs, about the round-the-clock curfews in the Kurdish cities of Turkey.
The indefinite, round-the-clock curfews that the AKP government has declared in Turkey’s Kurdish provinces since August 16, 2015 continue to deepen the emergency situation that undermines basic human rights and freedoms in the region, including the right to live and personal safety. As of today, curfews have been effective in seven provinces and twenty counties for a total of 395 days. This curfew policy directly and clearly violates imperative provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey as well as basic principles of international humanitarian law, first and foremost the provisions of Geneva Convention for the protection of civilians in war and conflict zones. The last and most destructive example of systematic violence and massacre threats under the curfew rule occurred in the town of Cizre, Şırnak province, before the eyes of indifferent Turkish and international publics: at least 165 civilians who had taken refuge in the basements of residential buildings amidst military operations were bombarded to death by Turkish security forces.
Whereas the AKP government continues to absolve itself of the responsibility to account for the basics of the civilian massacre in Cizre beyond the cliché of “fighting terror,” we are, once again, terrified by the news that most recently came from Sur district of Diyarbakır, which has been under curfew for the last 78 days, since December 11, 2015. According to local sources and the press, as of February 18th, around 200 people, including children and injured individuals, remain trapped in the basements of residential buildings in Sur district, where armed clashes have been taking place. For the last two days our party officials and members of the parliament have been trying to communicate with the government representatives, demanding official investigation of these claims and the opening of a safe corridor for the transfer of trapped civilians. Yet, all our efforts and demands remain unanswered. We are extremely concerned about the possibility that the massacre in Cizre may be repeated in Sur.
Under these circumstances, we are further concerned about the ongoing silence of the international public against the violence and massacres in Kurdish cities. As the military attacks against the trapped civilians were going on in Cizre, we had told the international public that their silence and indifference was bolstering the AKP government and its security forces in their unlawful and inhumane practices in Kurdish cities. Had the international public raised a powerful voice for the protection of the lives and safety of the trapped civilians in Cizre, perhaps we would not have had hundreds of dead bodies retrieved from beneath the ruins of Cizre today.
Now at the wake of a similar possible tragedy to take place in the Sur district, we are appealing to the international community once again. We are calling on all international institutions, humanitarian organizations and activists to take urgent responsibility and approach the Turkish government without any delay for the termination of curfews and state violence in Kurdish cities, and particularly for the protection of the lives of the civilians that are trapped inside the basements in Sur. Don’t let tomorrow be too late for Sur!
Vice Co-chair of HDP in Charge of Foreign Affairs