Turkey’s main opposition calls to declare Cizre and other conflict zones ‘disaster areas’

Turkey’s main opposition calls to declare Cizre and other conflict zones ‘disaster areas’

Turkey’s main opposition calls to declare Cizre and other conflict zones ‘disaster areas’

AFP photo

The Cizre district of the southeastern province of Şırnak, devastated during ongoing conflict between Turkey’s security forces and militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), should immediately be declared a “disaster area,” as well as all other zones of conflict, the country’s main opposition party said after a party delegation’s visit to the region.

“Cizre should swiftly be taken in the scope of disaster area and all the conflict zones in the region should be assessed within the same scope,” the delegation from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) said in a report released on May 2.

“In order to ease living conditions of citizens who try to keep living in Cizre or who had to abandon their houses because of the conditions that have emerged, all kinds of aid such as food, medicine, cloth and sheltering must be provided and food banks and need centers must be established,” the report continued.

A round-the-clock curfew in Cizre was in place for more than two months to conduct military raids on homes and shelters used by militants. The curfew, which came into effect on Dec. 14, 2015, is now limited to half-days (between the hours of 7 p.m. and 5 a.m). The current curfew has been in place since March 2.

The previous, months-long curfew subjected local residents to power blackouts, food and water shortages and destroyed neighborhoods. Fierce clashes between PKK militants and security forces have also halted education and health services in the towns placed under curfew.

DNA tests and identification of the hundreds who were killed during clashes between security forces and PKK militants have not yet been made, the CHP delegation said, urging for the establishment of “independent human rights monitoring commission” and allowing press access in order to “eliminate ambiguity” and provide a “healthy flow of information.”

The delegation was led by İzmir deputy Zeynep Altıok , also a deputy leader of the party, and was joined by other lawmakers from the CHP -- Istanbul deputies İlhan Cihaner, Sezgin Tanrıkulu and Ali Şeker; Mersin deputy Fikri Sağlar; and Kocaeli deputy Fatma Hürriyet Kaplan.

The deputies also reiterated a previous call for the establishment of a parliamentary inquiry commission, with opinions of the citizens and civil society organizations in the region also being taken into consideration.

The curfew in Cizre has long been a point of contention for lawmakers. A row between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and lawmakers from the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) occurred early February after the latter accused the civilian authorities of failing to provide health services for civilians trapped inside three basement apartments: one in Cizre’s Nur neighborhood and two others in the Cudi neighborhood of the same district.