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RIGHTS >CHP report says locals in southeast Turkey torn between PKK, unlawful practices of gov’t

Rifat Başaran – ANKARA

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People stand behind the security barriers at one of the entrance of Sur district, which is partially under curfew, in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır, Turkey February 26, 2016. REUTERS Photo

People stand behind the security barriers at one of the entrance of Sur district, which is partially under curfew, in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır, Turkey February 26, 2016. REUTERS Photo

A report prepared by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on the situation in the southeastern provinces of Diyarbakır and Mardin has defined the open-ended curfews as “unlawful,” arguing that locals are stuck between the terrorist acts of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the unlawful practices of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). 

“The local community is torn between PKK terrorism and the unlawful and anti-democratic practices of the government, and feels resentment towards both,” the report said, adding that the Kurdish-problem focused Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) power and influence over the region was also waning.  

A product of a two-day visit to Diyarbakır and Mardin provinces by a CHP delegation comprised of five deputies, the 43-page report includes the views of governors, mayors, civil society organizations, tradesmen and locals. 

The report stresses that provincial and district governors do not have the right to impose restraints on local communities’ rights and freedoms unless “specified by law,” which it argued is not the case in southeastern Turkey. The continuation of such practices would violate the principles of the state of law and cement “arbitrariness and a police-state mentality,” the report said. 

Comparing the past months with periods of martial law or coup d’état, CHP claimed the current period is unmatched in Turkey’s recent history.

“Looking back on the history of the republic, current practices far exceed previous martial law practices,” the report said.

The CHP said residents demand peace and co-existence rather than hatred and grudges, warning of “emotional disengagement” from the local community if current conditions persist. 

The report also included information on the detrimental effects of the ongoing clashes on the economy in the southeast. 

According to figures presented by the CHP delegation, the occupancy rate at Mardin hotels has fallen to around 10 percent. The historic southeastern province had experienced a tourism boom at the start of the now-collapsed peace process in 2012, promising an end to a conflict that has killed more than 40,000 people. With the local hotel industry now facing a sharp decline after a brief flourishing, some 700 locals in the industry have been left jobless. 

Similarly, the region’s foreign trade volume has also dropped, with Diyarbakır’s exports declining by 22 percent and Mardin’s falling by 17 percent over the past year.

March/01/2016

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