Civilian deaths in sieges imposed by the security forces
The first of these sieges, described as “curfews,” was imposed in Varto, starting on 16 August. There are sieges still in course in Cizre, Silopi and Sur districts. “Curfews” have been declared 56 times in 20 districts of 7 cities and so far these “curfews” have totaled 274 days. In some districts where curfews have been officially lifted, there is still a de facto siege. The most recent situation in 3 districts is as follows:Continue reading “HDP information on military siege on Kurdish cities”→
Member of the House of Lords, Lord Hylton, took part in an election observation delegation to Turkey’s southeast to witness the November snap general elections. His report recounts the brutal force used by the Turkish state against Kurdish civilians over the course of the summer:
In September and October 2015 the Government of Turkey, headed by President Erdogan, launched attacks against their presumed enemies and opponents. These took place in the run-up to the general election of 1st November. The PKK, or Kurdistan Workers Party, has been involved in political and armed struggles against the state. Many ceasefires have been offered, especially since 1999, the date of the capture and imprisonment of the party leader, Abdullah Ocalan. The PKK, with the constitutional pro-Kurdish party, the HDP (Peoples Democratic Party), and other cooperating groups including trade unions, different ethnic and religious communities, human rights and women’s organizations, and opposition parties etc, had long since declared in speeches and in writing that they did not seek to become independent or to separate from Turkey. They only wanted cultural and social autonomy within Turkey. The PKK made a unilateral ceasefire declaration on 10th October to avoid prejudice to the elections.
Margaret Owen, who took part in a delegation to southeast Turkey to monitor the recent snap elections, has produced this report based on her observations. Alongside Margaret were several others, including barrister Melanie Gingell, John Hunt, journalist; and Kawa Besarani, human rights advocate and political analyst; and academic David Graeber, among others.
The results, that came in on Sunday night took many of us, the international observers of the election,by surprise. Last night we wept, as the first fireworks, music and song,of what everyone thought would introduce a night of celebration,turned into dark hours of grief and anger, which ended when the armed police arrived with their tear gas and water cannon, stone throwing from the youth, arrests and more violence.
How will the peace process with the Kurds be resurrected after this result? When Erdogan himself has stated that it is in tatters.But perhaps all is not lost for ever. The AKP got a majority but not a “super” majority in numbers. He will still need support from the other parties to rewrite the Constitution in the way he wants, that is, to give himself a life presidency and in reality,a dictatorship, far removed from Ataturk’s creation of a secular republic. At least the HDP kept its 10% threshold. Although they lost many votes they still have representation in parliament. It could have been worse.
The Kurdistan Communities of Women (KJK) has published a new information file called 5 minutes to election: What happened during 20 days of PKK inaction in Turkey? which provides a useful summary of events in Kurdistan since the PKK declared a unilateral ceasefire on 10 October. The report details an alarming number of state-sponsored attacks on the AKP’s political opposition, including curfews in Kurdish districts, raids on HDP offices and military strikes against the PKK.
The report begins with this statement below and is available to download in full here (pdf).
PRESS RELEASE BY THE UNISON SCOTLAND DELEGATION WHO VISITED THE KURDISH REGION IN TURKEY
29 September 2015
A delegation of four trade unionists from Scotland: Stephen Smellie, deputy convenor of Unison Scotland; Viv Thomson, Chaiperson of UNISON’s national women’s commitee; Sarah Collins, UNISON East Ayrshire branch; and Paul Smellie, young member of Unite the Union, along with”Glasgow girl” Roza Salih*)visited Diyarbakir in southern Turkey last week following news reports of military curfews in the predominantly Kurdish region.Continue reading “UNISON delegation visits Diyarbakir amidst ongoing violence and intimidation”→
Peace in Kurdistan Campaign: DELEGATION REPORT September 2015
Women’s delegation condemns the arbitrary killing of 21 civilians, collective punishment of communities and severe restrictions on the right to freedom of movement in Cizre.
“The siege exacted a heavy toll on women: one woman was shot dead as she ventured out to search for food, several women miscarried due to the stress of the bombardment, two women, a young mother carrying her baby, and the baby’s grandmother were killed as they tried to reach a neighbour’s house. The baby was injured as the mother fell, but survived.”
A three-woman delegation visited Cizre in South East Turkey between 17th and 20th September and reported about the conditions for the 100,000 residents following a 9-day round-the-clock curfew enforced by a shoot to kill policy. The delegation, consisting of two human rights lawyers, Margaret Owen and Melanie Gingell, and public health specialist, Dr Shatha Besarani, was invited by the Kurdish Women’s Council of Diyarbakir to consider how the siege impacted on women and children in the city. The council assisted the delegation in their visits to Cizre and Sur and ensured that the delegation was free to take testimony from the people they met there.
On Wednesday 23rd September at 4pm, a delegation of women delivered an open letter signed by a coalition of prominent women’s rights activists to 10 Downing Street. The letter urgently calls on David Cameron to use his influence with the Turkish government to stop the violence being perpetrated against Kurdish civilians in the south east of the country.
The delegation includes Michelle Allison (Kurdistan National Congress), Evrim Yilmaz (Roj Women Assembly) and human rights barrister Melanie Gingell, who has just returned from a fact-finding mission to Cizre, south east Turkey, which has been under curfew for several days and which has been a flashpoint of violence between Turkish security forces and Kurdish civilians in recent weeks.
Cameron has long insisted that Turkey, a NATO partner, is a strong friend to the UK. On his last official visit to Ankara, Cameron stated that Britain and Turkey would work “hand-in-glove” to combat ISIS. And yet he has turned away as the Turkish government used their apparent entry into the anti-ISIS coalition as a veil to break the ceasefire with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and attack Kurdish towns and villages. Continue reading “Women warn UK government of dangers to Kurds”→
Join us for a demonstration outside 10 Downing Street!
“Help build peace with the Kurds, rather than extend the war.”
On Wednesday 23rd September at 4pm, a delegation of women will deliver an open letter signed by a coalition of prominent women’s rights activists to 10 Downing Street. The letter urgently calls on David Cameron to use his influence with the Turkish government to stop the violence being perpetrated against Kurdish civilians in the south east of the country.
A UK delegation of international observers will travel to Turkey today to visit Cizre, the majority-Kurdish town that has been under siege by Turkish security forces since 4 September.
The delegation includes human rights barristers Margaret Owen and Melanie Gingell, and Dr. Shatha Besarani, women’s rights activist for the Iraqi Women’s League. It follows a call from the Kurdish Women’s Council (KJB) for international observers in an effort to bring the crisis in Cizre and across Turkey’s southeast to international attention. Continue reading “UK observers to travel to Cizre, Turkey, to report on blockade”→
The HDP has released an information file on the violence in Turkey since late July. This is an important dossier which contains detailed information on how the AKP government is attempting to break the HDP’s political power and undermine the peace process. The introduction to the file is below, and you can download the full pdf here.
After the General Elections on June 7th 2015, Peoples’ Democratic Party (Halkların Demokratik Partisi or HDP) became one of the most significant political actors in Turkey. In particular, Kurds, socialists, Alawites, Non-Muslim groups, democratic conservatives, social democrats, ecologists and other historically marginalized or oppressed identities in Turkey have supported the HDP in the search for expanded collective rights in Turkey’s political and judiciary system. Continue reading “HDP releases information file on latest wave of attacks”→