This study has been prepared as a report to present an updated and general perspective for the public on the human rights violations that occurred in Cizre, Turkey beginning on December 14, 2015. Reporting and documentation activities were conducted based on statements by the victims/witnesses who live in Cizre. In this preliminary report, we have included only some groups (women, children) and references to a limited number of cases that exemplify the nature and specifics of the incidents.

 Subsequent to March 2, 2016, when entry to Cizre was permitted, lawyers of Libertarian Lawyers Association (ÖHD), Mesopotamia Lawyers Association (MHD), Asrın Law Firm (AHB), and the Foundation for Society and Legal Studies (TOHAV) entered Cizre to document human rights violations and legal processes.

A chronological segmentation of the curfews in Cizre, indicates that there were three periods of curfew up until the date of this report:

1) September 4, 2015 – September 12, 2015

2) December 14, 2016 – March 2, 2016

3) March 2, 2016 – present

In Cizre, the first curfew starting “officially” on September 4, 2015 at 20.00 ended on September 12, 2015 at 7.00 “officially”. Two months later, on December 14, 2015, the curfews that went on for 24 hours started again. On the 79th day of the curfews, (March 2, 2016) the curfew was lifted during the day, but was re-imposed until March 28, 2016 between 19.30-05.00, and after March 28, 2016 between 21:30-04:30. Although state officials announced that the operations ceased on February 11, 2016, the curfew continues in the hours mentioned above. In this report, evaluations regarding the ongoing curfews that started on December 14, 2015 are presented.

 Some numerical statistics based on our examination

Number of the houses/families interviewed: 376

Number of the neighbourhoods interviewed: Başta Cudi, Yafes, Nur, Sur,Dicle, Dağkapı, Alibey, Konak, Kale, Şah

Number of cases of (suspected) death in the interviewed houses: 143

Number of cases of missing people in the interviewed houses[1]: 6

Number of wounded people in the interviewed houses: Numerous and indefinite

 Between December 14, 2015 and March 26. 2016:

* 122 people have been buried in Cizre,

* 42 people were moved to graveyards in other cities and buried in those cities.

* A total of 83 bodies, were buried in the Unclaimed Graveyard: 5 in Malatya, 5 in Mardin, 8 in Urfa, 6 in Antep, 10 in Şırnak, 12 in Cizre, and 37 in Silopi.

* 178 bodies from the basements were sent to other cities. It was detected that more than 150 bodies had been burnt.


 Two days after the second period of curfew began on December 14, 2015, on December 16, 2015, the first civilian death occurred because of shots fired by security forces: Mahmut Şen, husband of Hediye Şen who was shot multiple times in multiple places while she was going to the restroom in her garden, tries to talk about it:

            “Since the curfew was imposed, the armored vehicles (Cobra type) were positioned in Caferi Sadık Tomb which is in front of our house. We could see them clearly as they also could see us clearly. The distance between us and them was approximately 100-150 meters. Around 18.30, my wife went outside to use the restroom, when she screamed I ran outside. I guess the electricity went off by the time my wife was shot. 8 bullets had hit her. 6 bullets to her face and neck and one to her shoulder, another to her stomach. I immediately called 155(police )112(hospital). 112 told me to go to a location 3 kms away. I called 155 and told them there were no clashes and trenches where I live and that they could come. I called 155 three times. No one came. Half an hour later my wife bled to death.“.


  Our understanding from the testimonies and statements of the women is that the problems of women were: Pregnant women could not get regularly checked. Some women had premature births. Most of these deliveries happened in houses where no medical resources were present. Some of the babies were born dead. It has been reported that a baby was killed with its mother while it was still in utero. During the curfews, as result of the traumatic environment created by war/conflict, there has been a serious increase in miscarriage rates. The photos of the dead stripped women were shared by a social media account called JITEM. Similarly, it has also been observed that there was sexist and racist writings on the dead bodies of women. It has been observed that some women’s breasts had been cut off. A 15-year-old woman’s eyes had been carved out, her body was dismembered and even after she was dead her body was tortured, even burnt. Another woman’s body found by her family was divided into four pieces and the head was missing[2].


   From the fetuses shot in their mothers’ wombs, to the ones shot in their mothers’ arms, murdered children of all ages have been detected. Baby Miray was shot while she was in her mother’s arms as the mother was coming downstairs. While she was wounded, the family called 155 and asked for help. The response they received was to take a white piece of cloth to use as a white flag and walk to İpek Street. As her grandfather and mother were trying to take her to the promised location, they were raked with gunfire on the road. Baby Miray died there. Although the mother and grandfather were taken to hospital wounded, the grandfather died in the hospital while the mother was crippled. Miray’s burial was not allowed for 27 days. Since there was no room in the morgue, she was preserved on another body. Her family witnessed her being called a “terrorist”.

During the curfew, babies were not able to be vaccinated. Many children with chronic diseases were deprived of treatment. Because of continuous attacks, children in the region started to develop psychological disorders. In the region where heavy weapons were being used, children and many other individuals have started waking up crying in the middle of the night. It has been observed that children are expressing serious mistrust and anxiety for future.

Many children who did not have the chance to study for exams, could not apply for university entrance exams. The ones who were able to apply could not take the exam as the place of exam was in distant cities and they were unable to travel.

Children who were exposed to the noise of bombings and heavy gunshots every day, especially the young ones (0-5 years old), have become aggressive and scared even when they hear a loud voice.


Between the dates 12/14/2015 and 03/02/2016 no one except the security forces were allowed to enter Cizre. In particular, a group of lawyers from ÖHD (LLA-Libertarian Lawyers Association) and MHD (MLA-Mesopotamia Lawyers Association) were making applications to the Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on behalf of their clients and wanted to enter Cizre to see their clients and the condition they were in. But they were hindered by security forces on February 6, 2016. Since February 2, 2016, the entrances to Cizre have been highly controlled. Anyone who wants to enter Cizre was and is still being kept waiting — sometimes for hours at search and control stations. During these delays, everyone including lawyers are subject to GBS [General Background Scan] without consent. During the reporting period of this study, our team of lawyers was followed by armored vehicles and threatened by security forces dressed in civilian clothes. We would like to stress the fact that this incident occurred during an investigation in front of a house where there was an execution allegation.



            It has been observed that during the curfews people were forced to leave their houses in various ways. According the information from the people of Cizre, houses that were still inhabited were raked by heavy weapon fire, cannons, and howitzers multiple times. As observed in the complaints/applications and testimonies we obtained:


  • Everyone who lives in Cizre was threatened by security forces by virtue of their announcements that “all must evacuate their houses otherwise they are not responsible for what may happen.”


  • Similarly, according to a testimonial, on January 5, 2016 the content of the threat changed: the inhabitants of the respective neighbourhood were threatened by announcements that unless they left their homes, they would be “exterminated” by chemical weapons. During the time when the threat of the use of chemical weapons was made violently and frequently, many people who lived in the neighborhoods where the operations were underway left their homes carrying white flags fearing death as the attacks on their houses were becoming more intense.


  • Witnesses indicate that during the curfew the neighborhoods where civilians live were hit by tanks and howitzers which were situated in the hills of Cizre. Almost all houses in Cizre were damaged by heavy guns; some parts of the houses were demolished by howitzers and some were burned beyond use. As a result of the study on damage assessment by Southeastern Anatolian Regional Municipalities Union, we know that: 10,000 houses and offices have been damaged, among which 1,200 are highly damaged[3]. It has been observed that by destroying the living spaces completely, the aim was to make return to these places impossible.


  • Some homes and possessions in Cizre were damaged by security forces who had used them as headquarters. More importantly, these houses were left in an unlivable condition: Most houses which were used as headquarters, are situated in the strategical hills of Cizre and these houses have a view of the province. Some of these houses were first exposed to howitzer and gun shots so that the household would be forced to abandon their homes; later the security forces were positioned in those houses, which they used as headquarters. In other instances, security forces used homes as headquarters even when the household family was still in it, forcing them to become hostages. Similarly it has been observed that schools and hospitals were also used as headquarters by security forces.


  • The rest of the population that stayed in Cizre suffered from a serious shortage of food and liquids until March 2, 2016. The shortage of food in the province continues through the present.


  • Water tanks on roofs and air conditioner motors outside the houses were targeted and damaged by security forces so often that it leaves the distinct impression that they were hit and damaged on purpose.


  • Water and electricity had been cut off completely. Residents who went outside to use old wells in order to get some water were harassed by snipers. Personnel commissioned by the Municipality with the informed consent of the District Governor were nonetheless targeted by the security forces[4].


  • Some applicants stated that they tried to survive in the cold during the curfew since the smoke from their stoves caused the security forces target their houses.
  • Testimony indicates that during the curfew all public services were suspended and the public services the Mayoralty of Cizre wished to have conducted were uniformly hindered.


  • Between the dates December 14, 2015 and March 2, 2016, security forces made discriminatory and hate speech announcements which were insulting and threatening, as well as posting writings on the walls with similar content such as: “Armenian Bastards…”, “We’ll exterminate all of you”, “You’ll witness the power of Turks”…


  • It has been stated that the anthem of Janissary was played loudly from the locations and armored vehicles that the security forces were using. It has been observed that these anthems which stand for racism and militarism in the minds of the locals, created a traumatic effect.




As understood from the testimonies of local residents, during the curfews effective access to medical services was unavailable:


  • When local residents who needed medical services due to various disorders (kidney failure, hearth disease etc.), disability, or pregnancy called 112 Emergency Service, they were told that it was not possible to dispatch an ambulance and the ambulance could go only to a certain place because of the clashes. For that reason the patients were supposed to be brought to the designated area to meet the ambulance. But based on the experiences and concerns of the possibility of being shot dead by the snipers, most of the patients did not leave their houses.


  • After a while, the entrance and exits of the only equipped hospital, Cizre State Hospital, was hindered by the security forces; some floors of the hospital were evacuated and security forces were placed in those floors.


  • ECHR took five separate interim measures for some of the wounded who were not treated and were not allowed to be taken to hospital to access medical services immediately. Cihan Karaman, Hüseyin Paksoy, Orhan Tunç and Serhat Altun for whom interim measures were decided by ECHR, all lost their lives either because ambulance was not designated despite the measures or it was too late. Among those only Helin Encü received medical help.


  • As seen in the case of basements, the arrival of the ambulances required for the sick and wounded were hindered with the excuse that there were clashes. In most cases, wounded civilians were carried to ambulances either wrapped in blankets or carried with carts carrying white flags. During these efforts, it has been reported that fire from the armored vehicles commenced, which resulted in many additional deaths and injuries[5].


  • The pharmacies were closed during the curfew; as a result access to medicine was not available.




  • Between 12/14/2015 and 03/02/2016 55,000 people in Cudi Neighborhood; most of the 15,000 people in Yafes Neighborhood; most of the 35,000 people in Nur Neighborhood; and 25,000 people in Sur Neighborhood; were displaced. Most of these people moved to surrounding cities, provinces and villages to their relatives’ houses. There are many cases where more than 40 people tried to live in one house. People of Cizre who were forcibly displaced were re-traumatized upon their return to their homes: Thousands of homes were heavily and unreasonably damaged, there were marks of clashes and bullet holes in the houses, and almost all the houses had been raided by security forces. Most of the doors are broken, durable goods in many houses have become unusable because of either bullets or because they were hit by sharp objects such as hammer.


  • In many houses where Special Operations [GSO (Gendarmerie Special Operations) /PSO (Police Special Operations) vd)] were situated, it has been observed that women’s underwear was removed from the closets and exhibited on the floors. Similarly, many used condoms were on the floors. In those houses, the most commonly seen threatening writings on the walls were ; “Ladies we were here”, “We were here, you were absent”. On another house’s door : “The hot lady’s house.”


  • It’s been observed that where most of the houses were used as headquarters, the private belongings of the household were thrown on the floors. It’s also been detected that the houses were trashed, food was thrown all around the residence, racist writings were sprayed on the walls, notes were left inside the houses, and violation of privacy and inviolability was committed. In a house used as a headquarters, many bullet holes, empty bullet shells and materials belonging to artillery were found.




  • Most of the houses are either in ruins or unusable. In the standing buildings, most of the furniture especially the durable goods have been damaged beyond use. As seen from the marks and evidence remaining, this damage was done by use of bombs, bullets, axes, hammers and similar tools and weapons.


  • It’s also been stated that in some houses valuable jewelry and money had been stolen. Interviewees stated that when they were forced to leave their houses, they did not take along their valuable objects based on the information they received from people who were taken into custody and arrested for taking their money and valuable objects with them who were accused of helping the organization.



During the second period of curfews lasting for sixty days starting on December 14, 2015, it has been observed that some people, among whom there were wounded persons and children, were trapped in a basement. In a short time, the number of the basements and people trapped in those basements increased rapidly. While the legal and political initiatives were proceeding in terms of Supreme Court and ECHR, on February 7, 2016, an official state television station published news which stated that “60 terrorists were killed during the operation on the basement” and after a while this news was withdrawn. After this date, with respect to people in the basements, only images of the burnt bodies and news of their deaths were seen on media[6].

Number of the bodies extracted from three basements: 167

First Basement: Cudi Mahallesi, Bostancı Sokak, No: 23.

Second Basement: Cudi Mahallesi, Narin Sokak, No: 14.

Third Basement: Sur Mah., Akdeniz Sok., No: 16.


The majority of the bodies in basements were found highly burnt. (Accorrding to autopsy reports, some bodies were also beheaded, had eyes carved out, and had cuts and fractures; some were bodies without heads.) Although there is a widespread allegation regarding a “different” (implying chemical) substance being used, a formal request to the legal authorities regarding this allegation, which would require a technical investigation, was not accepted. Even today the smell of the bodies can be sensed in those basements. Some of the bodies extracted from them belonged to children. Bodies with all bones fractured, internal organs shattered, and cheeks crushed and missing, give the impression that they were crushed by a sharp object or a vehicle outside the basement. It’s clear that mass murder took place in those basements; yet a crime scene investigation necessary for timely collection of evidence was not conducted. The only crime scene investigation which a prosecutor attended for the first and second basements occurred a day after the curfew was lifted entirely on 3/3/2016 and was accompanied by armored vehicles. Morever, the prosecutor did not enter the basement which was the crime scene and did not conduct an investigation that met the demands of a true criminal inquiry. The samples which were required to be taken from the related address and the bones of the burnt bodies were collected by lawyers and were given to the officials. Currently, in many locations crime scene investigations have not been conducted, and in the cases where the demands for such an investigation have been accepted, the investigation is carried out by security forces without a prosecutor and mostly without a lawyer present.

A majority of the autopsy reports (available ones) leave the impression that they lack objective conclusions (because of attacks and pressure). The cause of death/murder was mostly changed to:

  • About the burned individuals: Unidentified cause of death;
  • In terms of deaths by weapons: Death by a non-registered weapon;
  • In terms of the wounded ran over by a vehicle: Conclusive cause of death could not be determined.


We see graffiti in the neighborhoods where the basement massacres took place:


(GSO-PSO) – “Love in the basements is unique”.








As understood from the testimonies/complaints, applications, and personal experiences during the funerals, the people of Cizre could not even receive their dead ones easily:


Access to the bodies was systematically hindered. Some of the families were able to reach the bodies only after days of search and pain. During the curfew and especially after the basement massacres, bodies were sent by security forces to cities and provinces such as Mardin, Urfa, Siverek, Habur, Malatya, Antep, Şırnak, Silopi. Families were not informed regarding the transfers of the bodies. Morever, they were warned that “if they did not receive the bodies in a short time, the burial would be done without the family’s presence”. Some bodies were buried in this way without “identification”. In fact, to do that, a new regulation was passed: Despite being identified, the bodies that are not taken in three days by the family shall be delivered to the municipality or local authorities to be buried. (See: The Forensic Medicine Institution Implentin Regulation 1/7/2016 changes).


  • The application we made with our associations to the Ministry of Justice on 2/23/2016 regarding the buried bodies without DNA and identity match has still not been responded to. Bodies that were burnt beyond recognition were not given to the families and were randomly buried in Unclaimed People Graveyard or in the surrounding villages or provinces.


  • Some of those who were buried far from their family’s houses were moved to a closer location after a legal request was made by the families.


  • Until 3/2/2016 the second period of curfews, people were not able to get out of their houses to collect their family member’s bodies. In that period, the number of people who could attend a funeral was limited to 3 people for some families.


  • In most cases, the families only have the identity card of the deceased; while in some cases they have the permit document for burial as well. Moreover, for most of the autopsies, lawyers were not allowed to observe or be present, and the documents of the autopsy were not delivered to the families/lawyers. Although the authorities were warned several times regarding the Minnesota Protocol for the cause of death to be examined, it was not executed.




What the people of Cizre were exposed to for many days and nights – artillery assaults by tanks and the sounds of mortar fire, explosives, rampages, announcements, harrassment of people staying in their homes – are clear violations of the right to life; they are, moreover, forms of torture. Some families who did not endure a loss of life, have come to see artillery, and their houses and cars being targeted by firearms, as something normal.


  • Trying to “solve” a political-social problem in a militarist fashion instead of employing a political process caused hundreds of civilians, security forces and members of an armed group their lives. A city was locked down, and besieged and its citizens witnessed destruction for hundreds of days. Therefore the first observation must be about how the war has damaged every part of society.


  • The barbarity in Cizre has been heavier and more serious than has been reflected to the public. Between 12/14/2015-03/02/2016, more than 280 civilians were killed during the clashes; among them there were women, babies, children and the elderly. The exact number of the deaths cannot be determined as most of the bodies are burned beyond recognition, distributed to different cities and buried without identification.


  • Documentation and data on the profound violation of right to life by special operation forces and snipers acting on behalf of the state according to the testimonies, violation of bodily integrity, forced displacement, deprivation of liberty, the hindering of essential needs, torture, discrimination and racism are all available. It is critical to designate the curfews and related operations as torture and maltreatment of the people of Cizre and to investigate them thoroughly. When violations this common, systematic and substantial are revealed, they become humanitarian law violations and crimes against humanity and assume legal stature. They must be investigated.


  • People who lived in Cizre were forced to leave Cizre. Any artillery fired by tanks or assaults by firearms on an individual’s house, close to his house, alley, neighborhood, or city is a part of a forced displacement. The execution of these operations and the format, techniques, and size of the curfew, leave the strong impression that all people in Cizre were defined as either “terrorist” or a “potential terrorist”. Cizre and its people are still being criminalized. Even the action of entering Cizre is seen as “suspicion of crime” by security forces; while those who enter the province are treated as “suspects”.


  • After the curfew was lifted during the day and entrances to the province were allowed, corpse remains, bones, mortars, bullets and bloody objects that are clearly evidence were found, mainly in basements but also in houses, gardens, ruins, and riversides. The request for this evidence to be labeled and for crime scene investigations to be undertaken were largely ignored, and in the cases where they were accepted, they were poorly conducted. Despite the high number of the civilian injuries and deaths and the destruction of buildings and property, there is no evidence that an effective investigation to find the perpetrators was conducted. We observe, rather, that security forces have been able to act with impunity as they believe they won’t stand trial on the serious human rights violations they have committed.











[1] This number consists only of those for whom applications were filed. We have detected many missing cases of people for whom no application was made.

[2] Zerrin Uca (22 year old): Daham Uca talks about Zerrin who was killed on 5 February 2016:

“My wife Zerrin and I got married in June 2015 and she was 6 months pregnant. We lived in a flat. My parents were in the first floor and we were living on the second floor. We were together during the curfews. Since the 3rd floor was bombed, we were staying with my parents on the first floor. My brother’s three handicapped children were also staying with us. As we did not have enough food and many people, we had problems with the food. On February 5, 2016, we were at home; my wife was with us. She went upstairs to the second floor to change her clothes. At that moment a bomb exploded. My wife stayed upstairs for about 20 minutes. Later we were worried so we went upstairs to see she was laying on the floor. We called 112 immediately. They asked us if she had any health problems. and that they would come. We waited for the ambulance for an hour. In the meantime we called 155 and told them what happened and that we had a car and we would take her to the hospital by ourselves if they could just allow us to pass, but they said it was forbidden and that they wouldn’t allow it. About an hour later, the ambulance arrived; we went to the hospital with my wife’s brother. Half an hour after medical intervention, they told us that she had died. The next day after the autopsy, we took the permit document for the burial from Şırnak State Hospital and we had to bury her in a village called Kiriş. We could not bury her in Cizre because of the curfew. There was only me and her brother from the family at the funeral. None of our relatives from Cizre could come to the funeral. If the ambulance had arrived earlier or they had let us take her to the hospital, maybe she would be alive now”.

[3] See;

[4] İrfan Uysal: On 12/18/2016 at around 11:00, in order to provide water for the people of Cizre, he headed to İdil Road/Old TEDAŞ to open the water valves. While he was doing his job, Irfan Uysal, an employee of Municipality of Cizre, was shot in his arm which he was using to open the valve. Irfan Uysal who saw that he was shot from an armored vehicle, lost his arm to the injury. However, before the incident happened, Irfan Uysal called and informed 155 that they were going to the water valves multiple times and asked the security forces whether the area was safe: The response he received was “It’s safe”.


[5] HDP MP Faysal Sarıyıldız: “Upon the failure of implementing the interim measure by ECHR (European Court on Human Rights), I texted the governor and head of the district. They did not answer my calls because I told them: “These kids are required to be taken, you are committing a crime”… At the time, a municipality employee Mehmet Kaplan was shot to death and his body was still on the street. With about thirty people, twenty of whom were older than fifty, we took Serhat Altun’s body from Cudi neighborhood. While we trying to cross the Nusaybin Street with three bodies and four wounded, there were armored vehicles a hundred meters away. As we were crossing the median, the security forces in the armored vehicles attacked us. Just when we were about to pass to Şah Neighborhood, they opened fire on us. We were trying to carry the wounded on the carts which are mostly used by grocery salesman… The police station was informed about us. We called the ambulance. However, we were told that the police force would not allow the passage. I couldn’t make any sense… I did not expect that they would shoot us so openly. Fifteen people were stacked on top of each other in a twenty square meters area. İMC reporter Refik Tekin was also injured… But he was able to record very crucial moments. People who walked with us were injured and they needed to be carried. We would fit 5-6 people in the ambulances and funeral vehicles that can only take one person… The injured who we were expecting to be taken to hospital were kept waiting by the armored vehicles”. Faysal Sarıyıldız continues: “Ambulances were taken to the district police station instead of hospitals with the excuse of identity check…The injured ones were dragged out of the vehicles one by one. The ambulance driver who said “These people will die unless they are taken to a hospital” was beaten. About 13 people were injured in the district police station… The injured were injured again. A young man shot from the foot was kept in a cell and he suffered from blood loss… I have always feared not being able to convey the massacre in Cizre and I still have this concern…”

[6] [Mehmet Tunc, the author of testimony below was murdered.] Tunc said “You need to be here to tell what is happening. After a bomb explosion in a house, with the ones who joined us, we were 28 wounded people four or five days ago. Unfortunately, four people died as we could not meet their medical needs. Their bodies are still in the house we are staying. We wrapped them with blankets. They started to decay and spread a smell. It is impossible to live because of stuffiness “.

“Our hands are tied. Yesterday I tied a man named Selami Yılmaz’s leg, it turned to purple, when I untie, he bleeds. I could not save him because of blood loss. I see myself as his killer. When you go out, you are shot, you stay in the house, you are bombed. (

[7] Sahip Edin (testimony on 3/10/2016) Berivan Edin stated that she did not hear from her husband Sahip during the curfews: “We thought he might have been in one of the basements (Third Basement). Everyone told us that there was a body in a coffer which resembles my husband’s features. When the curfew was partially lifted in the morning, I went to that place. I saw a coffer in the second floor of the third basement. When I opened the coffer, he was shot in the head, his skull and half of his face was shattered and the other half had decayed. But I could not recognize him. Then he was taken to the hospital with an ambulance. Later I also went to the hospital. I wanted to identify the body in the coffer. I insisted a lot but the police did not let me see the body. My husband was in no shape to be identified. Although I told them it was my husband, they still took him to Habur. After two days of efforts we finally received his body. We brought the body with the escort of armored vehicles and when we were about to bury him in the grand graveyard, the police opened his coffin and spat on my husband’s dead body”.