Delegation Report: Women’s delegation condemns the arbitrary killing of 21 civilians in Cizre

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.

Continue reading “Delegation Report: Women’s delegation condemns the arbitrary killing of 21 civilians in Cizre”

Patrick Smith reports from Diyarbakir on community-run food banks

Serif stands among the produce on offer
Serif stands among the produce on offer

The violent repression of the Kurdish people is well documented. But arriving in Diyarbakir as part of a delegation from the UK, the first thing that strikes me is the poverty that is clearly visible on the streets. This is not a rich city; this is not a wealthy region. The sky scrapers and high-end restaurants of Istanbul are a long way away. But with the Turkish Government unwilling to step in to help, and indeed promoting policies to keep the Kurdish regions underdeveloped, people here are having to take the situation into their own hands.

A study by the Union of SouthEast Anatolian Region Municipalities (GABB) shows the South Eastern provinces making up the lowest 21 ranks out of Turkey’s 81 provinces in nearly all socio-economic indicators. In spite of the region’s 16% share of the population and underdevelopment, it only receives 8.5% of the local administration spending, and attracts hardly any investment for major infrastructure projects. Continue reading “Patrick Smith reports from Diyarbakir on community-run food banks”

Health workers in Kurdistan harassed by Turkish police for treating refugees from Kobane

By Stephen Smellie, UNISON South Lanarkshire who just returned from a visit to Kurdistan and Kobane. You can read more of his observations during his recent trip to North Kurdistan here.

5 November 2014

Police officers have kicked in the doors of a rehabilitation facility providing services to injured refugees from the ISIS attack on Kobane. Refugees were manhandled and verbally abused while health staff, working in a voluntary basis, were abused and told they should stop treating the refugees.

Selma Atabey is a nurse working at a large public hospital in Diyarbakir and co-president of the city’s branch of health workers union SES. Continue reading “Health workers in Kurdistan harassed by Turkish police for treating refugees from Kobane”

Statement from the delegation to Kurdistan and Kobane in November 2014

7 November 2014

Following our visit to Kurdistan where we met refugees from the battle for Kobane and Yazidi refugees from Iraq, representatives of Kurdish organisations and municipal councils , trade unions and women’s groups we testify that a humanitarian crisis exists. Almost 200,000 refugees have arrived in the region in the past two months fleeing from, as one Yazidi put it, “the monsters” of ISIS.

The local people, unions and political representatives have responded magnificently whilst the Turkish government response has been slow and woefully inadequate. With winter approaching and temperatures as low as minus 10 , there is a real prospect of people currently living in tents, freezing to death. Continue reading “Statement from the delegation to Kurdistan and Kobane in November 2014”

KCK lawyers trial: Report by Melanie Gingell

The following is the latest in a series of personal reports written by members of a recent UK delegation to Istanbul. The delegation observed the continuation of the lawyers KCK trial, and included solicitor Ali Has, human rights lawyer Margaret Owen OBE, the Law Society’s Tony Fisher, and Bronwen Jones and Melanie Gingell, of Tooks Chambers, London. Here, Melanie Gingell gives her impressions of the trial and her concerns about how the trial is proceeding.

Tony Fisher, member of the Human Rights Committee of the Law Society, also participated in the delegation and wrote this report last week.

We will bring you further reports in the coming weeks.


In response to an invitation from a Kurdish solidarity campaign PIK, I attended the trial of 47 lawyers in Istanbul on 6th Nov 2012.

I was part of a 5 person delegation comprising 3 barristers and 2 solicitors from the UK. Legal delegations from France, Switzerland, Germany, Canada also attended the trial. Continue reading “KCK lawyers trial: Report by Melanie Gingell”

KCK lawyers’ trial: Report by Tony Fisher

The following report was written by Tony Fisher, from the Human Rights Committee of the Law Society, who participated in a UK delegation of lawyers to Istanbul this week. The delegation observed the latest hearing of the KCK lawyers’ trial, which was eventually adjourned until the new year.

The report was originally published on the Law Society website. More reports from the delegation will follow.



In November 2011 mass arrests of some 46 Kurdish and Turkish lawyers took place in raids carried out simultaneously in many Turkish cities and provinces.

The arrest of these lawyers is linked with many thousands of other arrests which have taken place, mainly of Kurdish Turkish nationals, since 2009. Most of those arrested have had some connection with a Kurdish organisation established by Abdullah Ocalan, namely the union of Communities in Kurdestan (otherwise known as the KCK). The trials of these individuals, including the lawyers trials, have become known as the KCK trials. In all some 8,000 defendants have been charged with terrorist offences. They include politicians, journalists, academics and other human rights defenders as well as the lawyers. Continue reading “KCK lawyers’ trial: Report by Tony Fisher”