The Turkish military operations against Kurdish rebels “have caused widespread human rights violations”, the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner Nils Muiznieks said after two visits to the Kurdish-majority southeast of Turkey.
Muiznieks called on Turkey to compensate people affected by anti-Kurdish military operations.
“Numerous human rights of a very large civilian population in South-Eastern Turkey have been violated as a result of curfews imposed and anti-terrorism operations conducted there since August 2015,” he said.
“I call on Turkey to stop using curfews in such a manner, investigate all allegations of human rights violations by state agents in an effective manner and put in place comprehensive schemes for redress and compensation. Failure to do so will further aggravate the initial violations,” the European human rights commissioner said.
Muiznieks also condemned the practices of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), describing its activities as “terrorism actions”.
“Turkey faces a real terrorist threat, and it has the right and duty to fight against terrorism in all its forms. I condemn the actions of the PKK and other terrorist organisations. Terrorism is a human-rights violation, but the response Turkey adopted in the South East since the summer of 2015 caused violations of human rights in its own right, due to measures which involve problems of proportionality and legality,” he stated.
He also accused Turkey of protecting security forces from prosecution rather than investigating them for human rights abuses.
“Impunity has consistently legitimised and fostered behaviour fundamentally at odds with human rights, and undermined efforts to protect and promote them throughout Turkey’s recent history,” he said.
According to the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner, investigations in Turkey have been ineffective since the elapsed time of the operations, and the fact that evidence might have been destroyed by Turkey with heavy machinery in the affected zones.
“It seems very improbable that any future investigation will fully satisfy the criteria for effectiveness,” Muiznieks said. “I call on the government of Turkey to acknowledge publicly the mistakes and human rights violations committed and to adopt measures able to compensate moral and material damages suffered by the people concerned,” he concluded.
In the meantime, Turkey continued its crackdown against the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP). Several HDP politicians and co-mayors were arrested today in police operations.