Union of Southeastern Anatolia Region Municipalities – Statement on the state of war in Kuridsh region

In the course of armed conflict that restarted in the Kurdish region of Turkey after june 2015 general elections, 186 civilians most of which women and children have died so far, hundreds of them have been injured and thousands of people arrested. Since July, 17 co-mayors of our municipalities have been arrested so far, 25 of them have been suspended from their duty and 6 of them have been issued arrest warrants.
There is an urgent need to restart the peace talks for a resolution of the Kurdish question in Turkey in order to end human rights violations in our region.
Since August this year, as a reaction to repressive policies of Turkish state, People’s assemblies in many Kurdish towns voiced their demands for self-governance. These demands for self-governance -aiming at achieving decentralized structural transformation against state’s centralism- were responded by Turkish government with disproportionate violence.
In Kurdish cities where demands were self-governance raised, especially in Cizre, Sur, Silvan, Nusaybin, Dargeqit, Silopi and Yüksekova, the Turkish government declared curfews which have continued for weeks and during which score of civilians have been killed by Turkish security forces while mass migration of residents out of the besieged cities is continuing.
Bodies of civilians killed by the Turkish state have not been not allowed to be buried for days due to the curfew and were kept in houses. In addition to this, tens of civilians were targeted by Turkish snipers while injured civilians were prevented from access to health care by security forces. Unfortunately, these developments still recur day by day in those cities. As a result of the ongoing armed conflicts, more than 1oo.ooo people had to migrate from conflict zones and this number is still increasing. Moreover, historical buildings in Sur district of Diyarbakir which were recognized as world heritage by the UNESCO are also under danger due to armed clashes. So far, the Kursunlu Mosque and the Pasha Hamam, built in the 16th century, were targeted by the Turkish security forces and destructed to an extent that restoration endeavors might never be enough in future.
Following re-escalation of armed conflict, 18 towns have witnessed curfews and 8 of these towns are still under curfews as of 2 of December.      Moreover, ongoing armed conflicts in urban areas has reached to a new and more detrimental stage by december 4. Tanks and heavy weaponry, usually used in conventional warfare, started to be used by Turkish Armed Forces in areas where hundred thousands of civilians live. The number of soldiers and police have increased drastically in recent weeks in our region. According to statistics given by Turkish state authorities, 16 generals, 26 colonels and 2 thousand soldiers were transferred only for the city of Sirnak city and thousands more soldiers will be transferred in following days. In addition to this, National Education Directorates in Cizre and Silopi made an official call for teachers to leave those cities. Ministry of Health sent an official memorandum to hospitals in our region for more personal and medical cares equipment’s stock.
All peaceful demonstrations aiming at protesting curfews and human rights violation are systematically facing police brutality and repression.
All these developments makes us think that gross human rights violations that have been taking place in recent months will be continuing and getting even more serious.
Therefore, this is an urgent call for all pro-democracy forces over the world to oppose this anti-democratic measures taken by the Turkish state.
To be able to prevent more deaths and right violations before it would be too late, I make these concrete demands:
It is urgent that:

  • International media agencies, reporters and journalists come to the conflict-zone in order to witness and report what is happening on the ground,
  • Both governmental and non-governmental organizations working on human rights issues send delegations to diagnose and report rights violations in the conflict zone
  • International delegations come to visit arrested co-mayors and monitor their imprisonment conditions as well as the judicial process
  • All international actors make an urgent call to related parties for retreating armed forces from urban areas as well as heavy weaponry to make a possible bilateral ceasefire
  • All related governments end the silence and communicate with Turkish government to restart peace talks which continued for years but ended in July 2015.

Gültan Kiyanak, Co-Chair of GABB, Co-Mayor of Diyarbakir