UN condemns PKK, criticizes Turkey
CENEVA – Agence France-PresseThe U.N.’s rights chief has condemned violence committed by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as it also accused Turkey of abuses allegedly committed by the military, underlining that state authorities must respect human rights during counter-terror operations in the country’s southeast.
“I strongly condemn violence and other unlawful acts committed by the youth groups and other non-state agents, allegedly affiliated with the PKK in Cizre [in the southeastern province of Şırnak] and other areas, and I regret any loss of life as a result of terrorist acts, wherever they have occurred,” said U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in a statement on May 10.
However, Zeid stressed it was “essential that authorities respect human rights at all times while undertaking security or counter-terrorism operations, and international law prohibiting torture, extrajudicial killings, disproportionate use of lethal force and arbitrary detention must be observed.”
The rights chief put special emphasis on allegations that Turkey’s army allowed more than 100 people to burn to death in three basements across Cizre.
“Most disturbing of all,” he said, “Are reports quoting witnesses and relatives in Cizre which suggest that more than 100 people were burned to death as they sheltered in three different basements that had been surrounded by security forces.”
He demanded a full investigation but said that so far Ankara did not appear to have called for a probe and had not agreed to his office’s request to access the areas affected.
Zeid said more information had come out of Cizre than many other towns in the region which were sealed off for weeks and remained virtually inaccessible due to the heavy security presence.
“In 2016, to have such a lack of information about what is happening in such a large and geographically accessible area is both extraordinary and deeply worrying,” Zeid said.
“This black-out simply fuels suspicions about what has been going on,” he stressed, demanding access for U.N. staff, observers, investigators and journalists.
Zeid admitted the picture emerging from information gathered from “a variety of credible sources” was still not completely clear, but nevertheless “extremely alarming.”
“There also appears to have been massive and seemingly highly disproportionate destruction of property and key communal infrastructure,” he claimed, also pointing to “allegations of arbitrary arrests and of torture and other forms of ill-treatment.”
Zeid also said the curfews, fighting, killings and arrests across the southeast had triggered “huge displacement.”