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CIZRE – 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.
Reporting by: Eyaz Ciziri and Wladimir van Wilgenburg
Source: ARA News
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