REPORT ON THE NINE-DAY CURFEW IN CIZRE, TURKEY
(September 4-12 2015)
Following the Turkish government’s one-sided ending of the two-and-a-half-year peace process held with the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) for the democratic solution of the Kurdish issue in Turkey, clashes between parties have restarted. A heavy bombardment by Turkish forces on July 24 targeting Qandil mountains was continued throughout the area including civilian settlements. Consequently, in Zergele eight civilians were killed in a village. Also during the month of August and in September so far, the Turkish government has declared approximately 150 so-called “security zones” banning entrance to the areas. Likewise, curfews were declared on different dates in Silvan, Varto, Lice, Sur (Diyarbakır), Yüksekova and Cizre, followed by sieges and violent operations in the areas.
In contrast to the claims of the government, PKK states that there are no guerilla forces in the cities and that retaliation to the Turkish armed forces is only by the civilians, especially the youth in self-defense. The fatalities, all of which are civilian, also support this statement.
The curfew declared on September 4 in Cizre, a town in Şırnak with a population of 150,000 people, went on continuously for nine days. Attacks by Turkish forces resulted in the death of 21 civilians, including at least four children and an infant. 15 of the fatalities were due to shootings of Turkish armed forces and 8 due to the prevention of access to health services.
For nine days, the city was under a heavy siege violating all rights and freedom of the citizens. All connection with the city was cut, including electricity, phone lines and internet. MPs, ministers and NGO representatives trying to reach the city were refused entrance and subjected to harassment and insults by Turkish armed forces. Citizens were unable to leave their houses due to heavy gunfire and to provide for their basic needs. All shops and bakeries were closed during the siege, water was not given to neighbourhoods and garbage could not be collected, creating a high risk for contagious diseases. Milk could not be provided for infants and children.
Citizens were not even able to bury their lost relatives and were forced to keep the victims’ bodies in refrigerators or wrapped with ice bags. Ambulances were not allowed to enter the city and no medical intervention was possible for the injured. Likewise, in the state hospital personnel was threatened by Special Forces not to provide health services to patients and nurses were forced to leave the hospital to provide medical care for the injured Special Forces officers in the area of clashes.
The chronological and detailed description of the events is as follows:
On September 4,
in Nur Neighbourhood on Özgür Street, Mehmet Emin Levent (25) went out after he heard his neighbour screaming. He was shot by the police in an armoured vehicle and died due to blood loss since ambulances were not allowed.
Hacı Ata Borçin (70) and Xetban Bülbül (65) died due to heart attack after bombardments from tanks.
On September 5,
four citizens were injured on Botaş Street of Nur Neighbourhood by a grenade launched from an armoured vehicle.
H.B. (15) was heavily injured in the gunfire of snipers positioned on the hill of Aşk.
Approximately ten citizens were injured in random gunfire by the police.
Dicle News Agency reporter Nuri Akman and Cihan Ölmez were targeted on Kobane Street. They were able to escape the gunfire from the armoured vehicle.
Ziynet Dirican, mother of four, was injured on the eye by an object while sitting in her house. She lost an eye.
On September 6,
Muhammed Tahir Yaramış, a 35-day infant died as he could not be taken to hospital. He fell from his mother’s arms, who panicked and ran after the family’s house was heavily raked. His body had to be kept for 30 hours as snipers and armoured vehicles fired at every moving object on the street. His body, rotten due to the heat of 43 Celsius degrees, was taken to the hospital only after two days and after HDP MPs’ insistent efforts.
Sait Çağdavul (19) was heavily injured on the neck and on the arm in front of his house by gunfire from an armoured vehicle. He died before the eyes of his family as he could not be taken to hospital.
Cemile Çağırga (10) was shot dead with a single bullet that hit her on the back in the garden of her house. Her body was wrapped with ice bags to prevent decay and later kept in a refrigerator for two days. The family was attacked in a gunfire by the police when, after two days, they wanted to take the body to the mosque. The family had already lost seven members due to a cannon ball that hit their house in 1992.
Mele Ehmed, the imam of a mosque in Cudi Neighbourhood was shot on the back by the police. During the siege mosques were occupied by snipers and imams were not allowed to perform prayer calls.
Three citizens as well as three members of the same family were injured in random gunfire of the police.
The continuous attack of Turkish forces prevented burials of the dead citizens.
Three houses were burnt due to bombardment from the 3rd Tank Battalion in Cizre.
Suphi Sarak (50) who wanted to take his injured neighbour Bahattin Sevinik (50) to hospital by car was shot with 9 bullets fired from an armoured vehicle. He was murdered before the eyes of his children who were not allowed by the police to take their father’s body from the ground. Bahattin Sevinik also died as he was not able to reach the hospital. Another citizen who was in the car was also injured.
On September 7,
Osman Çağlı (18) was shot on the back, foot and shoulder by snipers when he was in front of his house on Zirat Street of Cudi Neighbourhood. He died due to blood loss as he could not be taken to hospital.
Ö.M. (12) was heavily injured on Nusaybin Street by snipers who targeted him.
Abdullah Özcan (28) was injured on the foot in the gunfire targeting his house and suffered heavy blood loss. He could be taken to the hospital only after hours and with great effort of the HDP MPs. Unfortunately his necessary transfer to Şırnak was not possible as the ambulance coming from Şırnak was raked by Turkish armed forces and he could only be transferred to Diyarbakır after three days. He lost a leg.
A single bakery still open in Şah Neighbourhood was raided by the police who, seizing all bread, threatened the baker of raking his shop if he gave bread to citizens. The bakery was shot after the incident.
Three children were raked and injured near Medresa Sor, who went out to get bread for their families. Among the three only Murat Babayiğit (9) could be taken to hospital after great efforts by HDP MPs.
Snipers who entered the neighbourhood after dark shot Mesut Demir who was going to a family funeral house in Alibey Neighbourhood. He was injured on the shoulder.
On September 8,
The police fired at citizens who were protesting the attacks by making noise and Gülistan Babat (15) was shot. The police did not allow the citizens to take her to the hospital.
Houses on Ersin Street were burnt due to cannon ball fire. The firemen who wanted to intervene were also fired at by snipers and a fireman named Lokman Sorgun was injured. Five children were poisoned by smoke and could not be taken to hospital.
Hayriye Kalkan who was having a delivery with complications had to wait for the ambulance for hours.
An elderly sick person, İbrahim Çiçek (80) died as the police did not allow the entrance of the ambulance in the neighbourhood.
Zeynep Kaçar (60) suffering an attack due to fear and stress had a stroke when the police did not allow the entrance of the ambulance.
Four children were injured in Şah Neighbourhood in a gunfire from an armoured vehicle.
On September 9,
Özgür Taşkın (18) was shot dead with four bullets by snipers near his uncle’s house on Sınır Street.
Meryem Süne (53), mother of seven, was injured when shell fragments of a grenade thrown from an armoured vehicle hit her right kidney while she was performing ablution in the garden of her house. She died two and a half hours later as she could not be taken to hospital.
Devran Budak (9) was injured on the arm and the foot in a random gunfire while he was in the balcony of his house.
Mülkiye Taşkın (45) was injured in a gunfire from the battalion in her neighbourhood of Cudi.
Büryamin İrci (15) was shot by Special Forces in an armoured vehicle on Kiraz Street. His father Tarık İrci reports that Büryamin was stopped by an armoured vehicle as he was going home. He held up his hands but was forcibly taken in the vehicle. He was shot at the heart and his ear was cut. One of his hands was also injured with a bullet. He was tortured and died due to brain hemorrhage. His body was thrown in a garbage container. Tarık İrci also says that he was stopped by the police as he was going to take his son’s dead body, he was forced to lie face down on the ground and threatened to be killed by the officers.
Mehmet Sait Nayci (17) was shot on the back during the random raking of Ziraat Street from an armoured vehicle when he was in the garden of his house. He died after six hours due to blood loss as he could not be taken to hospital due to the lack of phone connection and gunfire targeting all who went out.
Eşref Erdin (60) was targeted and shot dead by Special Forces while he was trying to fill the water tank on the roof of his house. The family who tried to take him to the hospital were fired at in their car on Köprülü Street and had to return home with the body.
Zeynep Taşkın (18) and her mother-in-law Maşallah Edin (35) were targeted and shot dead by Special Forces. Zeynep Taşkın’s six-month old infant, Berxwedan Edin who was in her mother’s arms was also injured during the attack. Ayşe Edin and Ekrem Dayan were also fired at by snipers as they came for help. The infant is still in the hospital.
On September 10,
Special Forces attacked with tear gas and real bullets a group of citizens who were trying enter Cizre with white flags in their hands.
Mehmet Dökmen (70) suffered a cardiac crisis after his house in Yafes Neighbourhood was hit by a cannon ball. He died since he could not be taken to hospital.
Selman Ağar (10) was shot dead on the head with a single bullet shot by snipers.
Special Forces carried on the attack with heavy arms targeting electricity distribution units and water reservoirs as well as all moving living beings on the street. Two cows belonging to a citizen were killed on Berivan Street and streets were full of headless pigeons.
On September 11,
Mehmet Erdoğan (75) was shot dead on the forehead by snipers as he was coming back from the bakery with a bag of bread in his hand. He had said “They will not shoot at the elderly” and insisted to go himself to get bread. Witnesses report that an armoured vehicled approached his body afterwards and shot yet another bullet at him on the head.
On September 12,
a video was served showing police officers coming down from five armoured vehicles and implanting mines in a street.
After the lifting of the curfew citizens rushed to Nur Neighbourhood and an explosion took place. Yusuf Şık (13) was heavily injured in the explosion. His right hand was blown off and his right foot that was heavily injured had to be amputated in the hospital.
The iron doors of HDP and DBP party buildings were broken down with armoured vehicles.
It is estimated that about 50 civilians were injured during the attacks. 75 dialysis patients could not be taken to hospital, some of whom suffered strokes.
Videos were served showing police officers threaten to kill citizens with racist announcements, “You are all Armenians, bastards of the Armenians.” Writings on the walls such as “Turkish Revenge Battalions” and “Turkish State is here” were observed.
During the curfew no journalists were allowe in the town and mainstream media ignored the ongoing violence. Public was only informed by Kurdish reporters from Dicle News Agency, JINHA and IMC TV, who were already in the town.
A health care worker talking to Human Rights Association and pointing at the psychological damage on children said that she saw in the hospital several children, aged between 7 and 10, screaming “I am going to blow off myself, I am going to kill myself.”
It is also worth noting that witnesses all underline the resemblance of Special Forces officers to ISIS members with beards and black flags in their hands.
As the fatalities and witness testimonies clearly reveal, the Turkish armed forces committed crimes against humanity during the curfew, targeting civilians, randomly raking streets and whole neighbourhoods and threatening citizens with extremely hostile and racist behaviour.
We urgently call for your support to call the attention of the international human rights community to this grave violation of human rights in Cizre and elsewhere where curfew was declared for the prevention of further attacks against the civilians and the continuation of the negotiations for the democratic solution of the Kurdish issue.
Reports and testimonials gathered by İHD (Human Rights Association), TİHV (Human Rights Foundation of Turkey), MEYA-DER (Association for Solidarity with Families of Disappeared Persons of Mesopotamia) and HDP (People’s Democratic Party)