CHP asks for transparency on operation
ŞEMDİNLİ - Hürriyet Daily News
A group of CHP deputies visit Şemdinli amid an ongoing military operation. AFP photo
As clashes continued between security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Şemdinli-Hakkari area bordering Iran and Iraq on Aug. 5, prior to a chain of statements from Turkish government officials, a Parliamentary delegation visited the region asking for more transparency regarding the ongoing operations, which are entering their third week now.
Following a call to the government from main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu last week saying, “We want to know what is going on in Şemdinli,” five CHP deputies paid a visit to the town that the PKK claimed to have taken under control in its propaganda statements.
There were no signs of any PKK control of Şemdinli, as the CHP delegation walked about freely and talked to anyone they wished. That included locals who had been forced to evacuate their villages to escape from the clashes and had come to Şemdinli in search of shelter. The CHP deputies asked to visit villages where local people had been forced to evacuate due to military operations, but Şemdinli District Governor Mesut Gençtürk refused, citing security concerns.
Distant sounds of military operations were heard and occasional smoke and helicopters could be observed from the town, indicating the seriousness of the situation. The opposition deputies could not get much information from the local civilian and military officials. “We did not receive any new information other than the official statements that had been made before,” CHP Gaziantep deputy Mehmet Şeker said.
The CHP delegation will prepare a report about its trip. The first official statement on the number of casualities in the ongoing clashes in Şemdinli came during the CHP delegation’s visit. Two soldiers from the Turkish army have died, and 14 have been wounded in the military operation that is currently underway in Şemdinli, Gençtürk said.
The CHP deputies were briefed on Aug. 4 by Hakkari Governor Orhan Alimoğlu and military officers about the clashes in the region. About 100-150 PKK members attacked Turkish security forces in the region, and seven of them were killed during the clashes, according to the briefing given to the CHP deputies. Nearly 500-600 Turkish soldiers responded to the attack, and the clashes still continue, the CHP deputies told Hürriyet Daily News. Nearly 30 PKK supporters in Şemdinli have been providing armed backing to the terrorist organization, the CHP deputies said. The CHP delegation received an update about the clashes as it was announced by Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin on their way back, after they had completed their observations in town.
‘Bombing our land’
İsparta deputy Ali Haydar Öner, Gaziantep deputy Mehmet Şeker, Ordu deputy İdris Yıldız, Adıyaman deputy Salih Fırat and İzmir deputy Alaadin Yüksel, the group’s leader, all arrived in Şemdinli yesterday, where they met with local governors and villagers suffering from the operations in Şemdinli. “We came to learn what was happening here, but there is much different information here. We have been bombing our own land for 30 years. Everyone is looking death in the face. There is excessive poverty, but the people want peace above all. They were pleased by our visit. Seeing this place makes one change. It is not correct to assume from afar that the people of this region are terrorists. As a politician, I have to struggle for a solution to this problem. Our chairman’s statement that ‘[he] will solve the problem whatever the cost is,’ comes from his feeling for the incidents happening here. The West talks about a de-facto separatism. It has been assumed that the people in this region want separatism. However, it is clear that the situation is exactly the opposite here. You can clearly see that they want to live under a single flag,” Yüksel said.