Doctors to stay in hospitals 24/7 in Turkey’s curfew-hit areas
Nuray Babacan – EDİRNEDoctors’ 24-hour shifts at hospitals will become one week-long shifts in curfew-hit areas of Turkey’s restive southeast, Health Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu has told daily Hürriyet.
“We will increase the 24-hour shift time of health personnel working at hospitals in curfew areas to a week in order to avoid inconvenience. Health personnel will have to stay in their hospital throughout their one-week shift,” Müezzinoğlu said.
His statement came amid a series of curfews imposed on districts in southeastern cities, as clashes continue between the military and militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Müezzinoğlu claimed that “around 80 percent” of military operations against PKK militants had so far succeeded and vowed that there would be “no mercy.”
“The method of fighting terrorism will not change for at least the next three years. The Turkish state has expressed mercy, but that mercy has been abused,” he said.
The health minister also spoke in favor of the government’s desired change to a presidential system. “Turkey has a major problem: Lack of systematic-ness. The country has a management problem ... The current system harms our citizens,” he added.
Security forces say the curfews, during which locals are unable to leave their homes, are imposed to prevent civilian casualties during the clashes. Areas under curfew have seen intense clashes that have caused severe damage to homes, shops, mosques and several other buildings, prompting many locals to flee during breaks in curfews.
Among the most recent, an indeterminate curfew was imposed on Dec. 11 on Sur, a district in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, in order to conduct counterterrorism operations against PKK militants.
Sur hit headlines late November when prominent lawyer Tahir Elçi was shot dead on Nov. 28 after he delivered a press statement to condemn special forces teams for damaging the base of Diyarbakır’s famous Four-Legged Minaret.
Security forces have yet to conclude whether it was an assassination or whether he was killed in the crossfire during clashes between police and militants.
The curfew imposed on Sur on Dec. 2 was lifted on Dec. 10, but the latest curfew in the southeastern town was declared in the afternoon of Dec. 11 in the southeastern town that has seen its residents fleeing their home because of the intensity of violence during the anti-terror operations.
The military operation started with the Dec. 11 curfew was reported to be supported with armored vehicles, military helicopters and gendarmerie forces.
The state-run Anadolu Agency said Turkish military had thus far killed 12 militants in a series of operations in Sur since the shooting death of Elçi and two police officers.
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) will make its weekly group meeting in Diyarbakır on Dec. 15 to create awareness of the goings-on in Sur thus far, daily Hürriyet reported Dec. 13.
In the southeastern province of Şırnak, meanwhile, two Turkish soldiers were reported to have gone missing after the two left their military base to take an exam of a distant learning school, the Anadolu Agency reported early Dec. 13. Sources told the news agency that the two soldiers could have been kidnapped by terrorists.