HDP Central Executive Board’s statement on the deadly conflict in Gare

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Press statement by HDP Central Executive Board:

Hulusi Akar, Turkey’s Minister of National Defence made a statement on February 10, 2021 after midnight, on the military operation carried out by the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) in the Gare Region, of Kurdistan Regional Government, Iraq that the bodies of 13 deceased citizens were reached. At least 50 others were also killed during the operation, he reported.

Depending on media reports and comments those “13 citizens” are predictably believed to be the soldiers, policemen and government officials known to have been in the hands of the PKK for a long time.

We, in the name of Peoples’ Democratic Party, express our deepest regret and condolences to the families and loved ones of those 13 people who by no means were capable of protecting themselves against an armed attack and also to others who have lost their lives as a result of this cross-border operation.

In similar previous cases throughout the 40-years-long conflict that have caused the lives of tens of thousands, many soldiers, policemen and government officials had been captivated by the PKK yet all were released upon successful diplomatic efforts to prevent any harm to the captives. As a result of negotiations carried out by the initiatives comprising human rights organizations and peace activists all captives without any exception had safely returned to their homes.

Peoples’ Democratic Party as part of its responsibility to contribute to peace and conflict resolution efforts has been in close contact with the families of the captive soldiers, policemen and the government officials from the very first moment. The families and relatives who have been striving to liberate their sons have visited our parliamentary group at least four times along with Human Rights Association (IHD) officials in 2015, 2016 and 2019, and urged for further efforts for the release of their loved ones. During our talks, in the press statements and in the parliamentary assembly hearings we have always expressed our readiness to assume all responsibilities and tasks should the government and other parties accompany our efforts.

Albeit the Peoples’ Democratic Party has repeatedly brought the requests and demands of the families and of the public the parliament’s agenda questions raised for the government have remained unanswered. The government has responded neither affirmatively nor negatively to the desperate attempts of the families and further, it has forced some of the families to join the sit-in vigil in front of our Provincial Offices in Diyarbakır.

As previous examples showed, however, it was quite possible for the Government to encourage the efforts and set up a delegation comprising NGO representatives, peace activists and influential political figures to clear the way for the captives’ safe return to their families. Unfortunately, the government avoided taking on its diplomatic and humanitarian responsibilities to save the lives and ensure the freedom of its own officials who are lost in a military operation without any clear purpose or target. Ultimately having handed the captives in coffins to their families, the Government now seeks to wash its hands out of this disaster and attribute all the responsibility of the losses inflicted by the military operation to our party who has always stood with the families throughout these times. This is unacceptable.

The government is in no position to bring our party to account, on the contrary, the Government itself must be held accountable before the families of the captives and the public. Meanwhile, the PKK should acknowledge both the domestic and international public opinion regarding the conditions surrounding the deaths of the captives and of its own responsibility Ankara, Hewler and Baghdad governments should provide access to national and international media outlets to observe the conflict zone where the captives have lost their lives.

We call on national and international human rights organizations to take action to investigate the incident and the ensuing deaths in full detail.

The lives of the other captives already in the hands of the PKK should not be left at the mercy of chance in the conflict. The PKK in response to the demands of families and the public, should release the rest of the captives held by them.

On this occasion, we once again express that the only way to prevent human losses is to bring the ongoing conflict to an end and break the deadlock haunting the Kurdish Question through democratic and peaceful means.

Once again, we mourn for the human losses and express our condolences to their families and relatives.

Peoples’ Democratic Party
Central Executive Board
14 February 2021