EU report expresses concerns over increasing racist violence against Kurds in Turkey

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Mourners gathered around the coffins of 16 people killed during a Turkish army curfew in the Kurdish town of Cizre. (AFP Photo/Ilyas Akengin)

ARA News

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) released a report on Tuesday, in which they expressed deep concern about the rising number of violent attacks against Kurds.

“ECRI is greatly concerned about the large number of violent attacks against Kurdish people, many of which are committed on grounds of the victim’s ethnic origin,” the ECRI said.

“Numerous attacks were directed against the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party and the resurgence of the security operations against the [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] has led to another new wave of violence,” the report added.

The EU commission said that Turkey should return to the peace process alongside the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), saying: “[The ECRI] considers that the initiation of the Kurdish peace process in 2012 an important step forward that could help in tackling this kind of racist violence, and deeply regrets the end of the ceasefire with the PKK.”

In this hostile political environment the number of hate crimes against Kurds has dramatically increased. According to the ECRI, “More, than 400 attacks were directed at offices of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party in 2015. These attacks included armed assaults, bombing and arson, and many of them were carried out during election campaigns.”

The European commission said that it is also worried about the deteriorating situation of 1 million displaced Kurds in Turkey. “Many of them continue to live in substandard, illegally built housing and are at risk of eviction. While they benefit from a green card system providing free health care, a lack of broader government support has hampered their local integration,” the ECRI said.

The ECRI also sought to focus attention on the  millions of Kurds living hand-to-mouth in southeastern Turkey. “These regions continue to be the ones with the lowest average household income and they are the ones with the highest rates of poverty,” the report said.

“The situation has again deteriorated sharply in the second half of 2015, owing to the renewal of the security operations against the PKK,” the ECRI stated. “Inhabitants of this area are not only threatened with death or injury but also suffer from curfews that are imposed for entire weeks, during which civilians are not even allowed to leave their homes to buy basic food or to receive emergency health care. As a result, many have had to flee their homes again.”

The commission called on Turkey to take more precautions to ensure the safety of civilians during anti-PKK military operations.

There ECRI also drew attention to the severe restrictions on freedom of expression for Kurds in Turkey. 20 Kurdish academics and intellectuals were recently arrested for signing a peace petition.

“Leading Kurdish politicians have been threatened with dismissal and arrest for allegedly acting as if they were members of a terrorist organisation. These threats followed statements, in which they had requested greater autonomy for the south-east but had not incited to or justified terrorism,” the report said.

Concluding, the ECRI strongly recommended that Turkish authorities, “ease the severe restrictions imposed by the security operations and the curfews in the south-east of the country, ensure that Kurdish and other civilians have access to food and basic services, revive the Kurdish peace process, respect freedom of expression and resume and intensify their positive action for the integration of the Kurdish minority group.”

Turkey’s army has been battling the PKK in southeastern Turkey since the collapse of a 2-year-old ceasefire in July 2015. According to Human Rights Watch, at least 338 civilians have been killed since the conflict resumed.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News 

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