Silopi residents face ruins as they return after 36-day curfew

Silopi residents face ruins as they return after 36-day curfew

Silopi residents face ruins as they return after 36-day curfew

AFP photo

Residents of the southeastern district of Silopi, who were forced to flee their homes during a 36-day curfew imposed to conduct military operations, have faced ruined homes amid a general scene of desolation.

“We couldn’t even get water because we were afraid of the sounds of rockets and weapons. We suffered a lot,” Silopi resident Mehmet Şimşek told Agence France-Presse. Şimşek said he was able to stay in his house for only 14 days.

“We have 10 children and we covered their ears with cotton swabs, fearing their ears would explode,” Şimşek said. “I hope no one suffers like us.”   

The blanket curfew in Silopi, a town of 80,000 in the southeastern province of Şırnak, was imposed on Dec. 14 last year.

The curfew was lifted during daylight hours on Jan. 20, allowing residents to come to terms with the scale of the destruction that has resulted from the state’s military operations against what that state says are outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The state-run Anadolu Agency reported that the Environment and Urban Planning Ministry would dispatch a committee of officials to assess the damage incurred during the siege and prepare a draft to repair the destruction accordingly.

Silopi’s curfew remains in place between 6 p.m. and 5 a.m. 

“We stayed in our house. Some left, some didn’t. We stayed for 12 days,” AFP quoted Feyruze Buluttekin as saying. 

Buluttekin, a woman residing in Silopi, reportedly lamented the piteous state of her home, with its balcony collapsed in several places, its windows smashed and its floor ripped apart.

Doğan News Agency reported that a large number of residents, who returned to their ruined homes in the southeastern town, were making a tremendous effort to repair the damages they faced after the curfew was partially lifted.

“We want to live in the same homeland, together,” a resident told Doğan News Agency, speaking with an earnest desire for an end to clashes between military personnel and PKK militants.

“This has been our place of study... But it was destroyed,” said Hacera Kaplan, a high school student living in Silopi’s Barbaros neighborhood, whose family home was destroyed during clashes with militants. Kaplan said she wanted to take the first of the two nationwide exams in Turkish students have to take in April to enroll in colleges.

The state-run Anadolu Agency reported that Turkish Education Ministry sent a written statement to the governor’s offices in the southeastern provinces of Şırnak, Diyarbakır and Mardin in which several districts have been subjected to round-the-clock curfews and halts in education, saying necessary amendments would be made regarding make-up classes for students living in the towns.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, meanwhile, said a committee of 15 people, including a deputy from his party, were stuck in a basement floor of a building as they went to Şırnak’s Cizre district to take civilians, whom he says were wounded in clashes. 

“A committee of 15 people, including Şırnak deputy [Faysal] Sarıyıldız, who went to Cizre to take the wounded out of the town, was subjected to gunfire. Ten people were wounded. They are now stuck in a basement with the wounded suffering hemorrhages,” Demirtaş said, speaking in parliament on Jan. 20.

One of those injured was İMC TV journalist Refik Tekin, who received a gunshot wound to the leg. Because ambulances were not permitted to arrive on the scene, a hearse was reportedly used to transport the injured to hospital.