Fresh curfew declared amid exodus from İdil
ŞIRNAK – Doğan News Agency
DHA photoAn indefinite curfew has been declared in the southeastern Anatolian district of İdil amid an exodus that has lowered the town’s population by nearly one tenth, days after the interior minister signaled an expansion of military operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The round-the-clock curfew was set to take effect in downtown İdil, a district in the southeastern province of Şırnak, and the district’s Dirsekli village starting from 11 p.m. yesterday, the Şırnak Governor’s Office said.
The curfew is being imposed to capture PKK militants and remove barricades and trenches “with explosives hidden inside” to ensure the “security of our people,” the governor’s office said.
PKK militants reportedly detonated explosives placed under a road connecting İdil and Midyat, a district in the southeastern province of Mardin, early yesterday, leaving no casualties. A military operation was launched to capture the perpetrators of the explosion.
Though the curfew was just announced, the first sign that İdil would soon be the site of military operations came when the Education Ministry invited around 1,200 teachers working in the district to come to a seminar in Istanbul via text message, just as was done in Silopi, Sur and Cizre before curfews were announced and operations launched.
Cizre and Silopi, two districts in the southeastern province of Şırnak, as well as Sur, a district in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, have been experiencing round-the-clock or partial curfews since early December 2015.
“There are terrorists in İdil, as well,” Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala told reporters on Feb. 9 when asked whether the recently sent text message could be deemed as a sign of the government’s decision to expand military operations against the PKK to İdil.
“The operations will not take place only if the terrorists lay down their arms and fill the ditches,” he said, adding that the Turkish military would also intensify the ongoing operations in Mardin’s Nusaybin district, which has previously been subjected to curfews by the government.
Text message to teachers as the first sign
Following the text message delivered to teachers working in İdil that told them to attend a seminar between Feb. 8 and Feb. 13 – normally the first week of the spring semester for school students – and Ala’s statements citing an expansion of military operations in the southeastern town, İdil has seen an exodus not only by teachers, but also by locals, with its population dropping from 30,000 by around 3,000 over the past several weeks.
More than 1,000 teachers, who received a text message that told them to leave the town for a seminar in Istanbul, received a phone call from the administrators of their schools telling them there would be no school operations for an unspecified period of time.
Making contradicting statements with those made by Ala in which he said security forces had completed their operations against militants from the outlawed group in Cizre, the co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Figen Yüksekdağ said security operations against PKK militants were continuing in the district, speaking at her Kurdish-problem focused HDP’s parliamentary group meeting yesterday.
“In total, 258 of our brothers and sisters, our citizens in Cizre, were massacred … In the cellar of savagery, 145 people were slaughtered,” she added, referring to the cellar of a largely ruined building in Cizre, in which the HDP said dozens of wounded civilians were trapped without medical assistance.