Kurdish leaders plea to UN chief Ban Ki-moon to address human rights in Turkey

Supporters-Cheer-Selahattin-Demirtas-of-Kurdish-Peoples-Democratic-Party-HDP-Istanbul-May-2015-Emrah-Gurel-AP.jpg

Kurdish HDP supporters. File photo

ARA News 

QAMISHLO – On Monday, the co-chairs of the Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) called on the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to address human rights concerns during the First World Humanitarian Summit taking place in Istanbul on 23-24 May. 

“This summit is taking place at a time when the foundations of democracy and social peace are heavily undermined by authoritarian state violence in Turkey; when the war and humanitarian destruction in the country’s Kurdish region are extremely aggravated; and when the country is witnessing in its southern borders one of the most massive refugee crises in our time,” HDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ wrote in a letter to the UN Secretary General.

“We firmly believe that the primary homework of the First Wold Humanitarian Summit held by his Excellency in Istanbul is to reach an appropriate position with regards to the alarming situation in our home, among others, and contribute to the development of perspectives to resolve such humanitarian situations,” they said.

“Without addressing the very real humanitarian crises, including the one in this very homeland of peoples that we represent, the people experiencing the conditions described above in Turkey and in the region will once again see the humanitarian agenda being sacrificed to the geopolitical and economic calculations, deepening the existing lack of trust, disappointment and the sense of abandonment,” the HDP co-chairs added.

In July 2015, the peace process between the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Turkish government collapsed, which resulted in the destruction of several Kurdish cities in urban fighting.

For several weeks, fighting has been ongoing in the Kurdish town of Nusaybin, resulting in civilian deaths and mass destruction, and also negatively affecting the Syrian Kurdish city of Qamishlo across the border, where people have died from stray bullets and mortars coming from Turkey. 

Pro-Kurdish party calls for investigation into Turkey’s human rights abuses

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said that independent investigators, including the United Nations Staff should be allowed unimpeded access to the Kurdish town of Cizre in southeastern Turkey, in order to investigate human rights abuses against Kurdish civilians in the town that has been exposed to a fierce military offensive by the Turkish army over the past few months.

We would like to express our satisfaction with the call of Zeid Raad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, to Turkey on giving independent investigators, including UN staff, unimpeded access to Cizre,” HDP’s Group Deputy Co-Chairman Cağlar Demirel and HDP Group deputy Co-Chairman Idris Baluken said in a statement.

Last week, the UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Raad al-Hussein urged Turkey to grant the UN unimpeded access to the affected areas in the Kurdish-populated southeast, and the UN has reports that suggest that more than 100 people were burned to death while hiding in basements in Cizre.

“On the statement by High Commissioner, the State’s duty of protecting its people from acts of violence has been emphasized, as well as the importance of respecting human rights and the international laws forbidding acts of torture, extrajudicial executions, disproportional lethal violence and arbitrary detentions,” the HDP officials said.

“Especially during the basement massacres, we have made numerous calls primarily to UN and European Parliament, as well as to many other international organizations on investigation into transfer of the wounded civilians to hospitals and mass civilian massacres,” the HDP officials added.

The HDP urged the UN and the Turkish government to allow an impartial investigation.

“We expect UN to pursue this decision. We also expect the Turkish government to allow the investigators, commissioned by UN, to reveal the civilian deaths and social destruction particularly in Cizre, as well as other martially besieged towns,” the party said.

However, previously the Turkish government denied access to independent investigators.

“In Cizre, particularly during the basement massacres, the requests for investigation by many national and international CSOs were rejected,” the HDP said.

Cizre was the scene of heavy clashes between the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Turkish security forces, but the operations ended in the town late February. Currently, heavy clashes are ongoing in the town of Nusaybin. 

The Turkish government rejected the UN statement, and suggested the Turkish armed forces protected civilians against the PKK.

“Our southeastern Anatolia region can easily be visited by the international organizations operating in the human rights field,” Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic said, according to the pro-Turkish government Anadolu News Agency.

Although the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claims its military campaign on the Kurdish region is aimed at combatting rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), monitoring groups and human rights activists accused the army of targeting civilians.

Human rights activists and opposition groups reported that nearly 1000 civilians have been killed in Kurdish areas of Turkey’s southeast since July. 

“Under the pretext of combatting PKK members, the Turkish authorities are bombing infrastructures and residential neighborhoods across Şırnak and Diyarbakir,” said Hoshin Ebdullah, a Kurdish lawyer and human rights activist. 

He added that civilians stranded in Kurdish areas under the ongoing military campaign suffer a sharp shortage of food and medicines, beside constant cut of electricity and water. 

“Dozens of civilians have been killed, hundreds injured and tens of thousands displaced due to the brutal operations by the Turkish forces southeastern the country,” Ebdullah told ARA News. “More than 100,000 displaced people have been documented in two months, while many others remain stranded in war-torn towns and villages in the Kurdish region.”

Speaking to ARA News in the war-torn town of Cizre in Şırnak province, civil rights activist Ehmed Hokenek said: “The Turkish army avoids mentioning the civilian casualties in its brutal campaign against the Kurdish region.”

“The Turkish bombardment has caused mass displacement among civilians, destruction of infrastructures and death of dozens of civilians in Cizre alone,” Hokenek said. 

“The casualties are being carefully documented, and our teams are trying to do the same in other Kurdish provinces, with a hope that the international community would ever take action and stop this brutal military campaign against the Kurds, he told ARA News” 

“We hope that the international community would ever take action and stop this brutal military campaign against the Kurds in Turkey,” he said.

Violence has raged in Turkey’s Kurdish region since July subsequent to the collapse of peace talks–aimed at ending a three-decade conflict that claimed lives of over 40,000 people since 1984.

Turkey hit Kurdish city with internationally-banned Phosphorus bombs: activists

The Turkish army forces have reportedly used the internationally-banned Phosphorus bombs in its military campaign on the Kurdish city of Nusaybin, southeast Turkey, activists and eyewitnesses reported on Tuesday. 

This comes amid continuous military operations by the Turkish troops against the Kurdish city of Nusaybin, that have not stopped since 14 March. 

Medical sources in the war-torn city confirmed the army’s use of Phosphorus bombs against civilians. 

Nusaybin has been exposed to daily bombardment by the Turkish military for the past two months, using heavy artillery and tanks in its operations, where hundreds of houses have been burned and destroyed, amid the displacement of thousands of Kurdish civilians from their hometown. 

According to reports, many civilians are still stranded in war-torn neighbourhoods of Nusaybin.

Speaking to ARA News, media activists Akram Baraka reported that the Turkish army used Phosphorus bombs in its attack on Nusaybin on Tuesday.

“After launching the bombs, we saw white smoke followed by increasingly black smoke and then the targeted buildings were exposed to huge fires,” he said.

Akram, who is also a member of the ‘No More Silence’ campaign [documenting violations by government forces against civilians in southeastern Turkey], quoted medical sources inside Nusaybin confirming the use of the internally-banned Phosphorus bombs by the army against civilians stranded in the city.

In the meantime, Turkish bombardment on Nusaybin continued, amid clashes between the army and Kurdish rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) inside the city.

“Every morning a new wave of bombardment is taking place in the city,” Kurdish journalist Mihemed Hesse told ARA News.

This comes as the Turkish forces continued building an isolation wall between Nusaybin and Qamishlo on the Syrian border, according to eyewitnesses. 

Turkish army destroying over 350 houses in Nusaybin 

Local activists confirmed that the Turkish army forces continue their offensive through shelling the city’s neighborhoods by tanks and heavy artillery, demolishing more than 355 houses in the Zein al-Abedin neighborhood of Nusaybin.

“Pillars of smoke are still rising from the neighborhoods as a result of the Turkish-led military operations,” a local sources told ARA News, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Members of the campaign “No More Silence”, launched by a group of Kurdish activists in the Nusaybin’s twin city of Qamishlo [Qamishli] northeastern Syria, confirmed that Turkish army bulldozers have entered the Zein al-Abedin neighborhood in order to demolish more houses in the area.

“We are coordinating with reliable sources inside the war-torn city in order to document all violations against civilians’ rights in Nusaybin,” the Kurdish group said.

Dozens of residential buildings have been destroyed by shelling and completely demolished by bulldozers, according to Kurdish activists.

This comes as clashes continued between Turkish troops and the PKK-affiliated People’s Defense Forces (HPG) in the city of Nusaybin and other parts of the Kurdish region in Turkey’s southeast.

More than 100,000 displaced people have been documented in two months, while many others remain stranded in the war-torn towns and villages in the Kurdish region, local activists reported.

In the meantime, the Turkish authorities recently began building a concrete wall along the border in the areas between Ain Diwar and Derik in Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah.

Local sources in the Kurdish city of Derik in northeastern Syria told ARA News that the Turkish army leadership has been deploying hundreds of gendarmerie and military vehicles at the borderline with the city of Derik, with orders to shoot on each vehicle or person close to the border.

“Also, a number of Turkish snipers have been seen near the Tigris River, which separates Turkey from Syria in the area of Ain Diwar northeastern Syria,” according to eyewitnesses. 

Speaking to ARA News in Derik, media activist Hozan Amin said: “A Syrian Kurdish citizen was shot dead by a Turkish sniper near the border town of Ain Diwar last Tuesday.” 

“The Turkish army forces open fire on anyone who passes the Roman bridge [3.5 km northeast of the town of Ain Diwar],” Amin said. 

Turkey tightened border security measures after unrest hit the southeastern regions of the countryــwhere Kurds constitute a majority. Also, a series of explosions targeted sensitive security areas inside Turkey. Turkish forces have earlier entered the Syrian territory, breaking into the north-eastern regions, including Sermisakh and Dirna Aghe in Hasakah suburbs.

US concerned about lifting of immunity of Kurdish MPs in Turkey

The United States is concerned with the decision of the Turkish parliament to change the constitution to lift the immunity of more than 100 members of the parliament.

“The United States is concerned about the Turkish parliament’s adoption today of a constitutional amendment,” Mark C. Toner, US State Department deputy spokesperson said on Friday.

“A common tenet in democratic societies is equality before the law. However, we firmly believe that the freedom to engage in political speech – even speech which many find controversial or uncomfortable – should and must be protected for everyone,” Toner added. 

“This is especially important when it involves speech by elected representatives of a country’s citizens,” he said.

“We are closely monitoring developments regarding this prospective legal change. If this change results in a narrowing of space for political debate, it will erode the quality of Turkey’s democracy,” the US spokesperson said.

The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) said in a statement: “The indictment of our deputies are raised and submitted to the Parliament purely because of our political endeavor to democratize Turkey and build a libertarian country. We would like to reiterate what we have already publicly stated many times: the said political endeavors are a badge of honor for our deputies.” 

“The temporary amendment on the Constitution, under the guise of lifting immunities is a blow on Turkish democracy and is leading the country onto a shady future,” the HDP added.

Eyyup Doru, the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) representative in Europe, warned this could lead to a civil war.

Reporting by: Ahmed Shish, Eyaz Ciziri and Wladimir van Wilgenburg 

Source: ARA News

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One thought on “Kurdish leaders plea to UN chief Ban Ki-moon to address human rights in Turkey”

  1. nonamem says:

    Human rights is a serious issue in Turkey, I totally agree. But, terrorists can not be included on this at all.
    Don’t mix up apples and oranges! HDP, PKK, YPG, LPG, etc..

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