Turkish gov’t holds firm on Cizre curfew, deputies blocked by soldiers

Turkish gov’t holds firm on Cizre curfew, deputies blocked by soldiers

Turkish gov’t holds firm on Cizre curfew, deputies blocked by soldiers

Cihan Photo

The Turkish government brushed aside calls by opposition parties to lift the week-long curfew in Cizre in the southeastern province of Şırnak, as it also insisted on blocking members of parliament from entering the area. 

“All of Turkey knows there is curfew in Cizre. Likewise of all of our citizens, the security of esteemed [party] leaders, esteemed ministers and lawmakers comes before everything else. We display exactly the same sensitivity for esteemed ministers and lawmakers as we display in providing security for our citizens, too,” Interior Minister Selami Altınok said at a press conference on Sept. 10.

“Since we considered their arrival in Cizre could lead to different provocative incidents, to provide their security and serenity, their arrival in Cizre is out of the question. We will not allow that,” Altınok added.

Altınok also said one civilian and seven PKK militants were killed during the clashes in Cizre.

“During the operations started on Sept. 4 in Cizre, 800 kilograms of explosives were destroyed, as well as 30 barricades and trenches. 10 members of a terror organization were detained, while seven members of a terror organization were captured dead. 11 police officers and four civilians were wounded while one citizen was killed,” said Altınok.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, however, said on Sept. 10 that all political parties must comply with the security measures taken in Cizre. 

“Any delegation, even it is from the [Justice and Development Party] AKP, has to comply with the measures taken in line with public order there,” said Davutoğlu.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş and other HDP parliamentarians began a 90-kilometer-long march on Sept. 9 toward Cizre after security forces halted their convoy. On Sept. 10, they launched a sit-down protest on a hillside near the border with Syria and Iraq after their path was blocked by soldiers with riot shields, party officials said. 

While on the way to Cizre, Demirtaş said the district had been under curfew for eight days and the situation there had “turned into Gaza.”

“The reason for our march is to put an end to the clashes in Cizre and to bring peace there, so the people can be provided with everyday life necessities and services. People are trying to keep dead bodies chilled using ice bags because they are not allowed to bury them. They have run out of food and water and they cannot leave their homes. It resembles Gaza or Karbala. There are babies and children killed [in clashes] who cannot be buried,” said Demirtaş.

HDP politicians have said they want to bring attention to the dire security and health conditions in the town, which has been under curfew since last week. The army, meanwhile, says it is conducting an operation to apprehend militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the city. Dozens of security forces have been killed in terror attacks launched by PKK militants since July 20.

Earlier on Sept. 10, the HDP filed a complaint against Altınok, Ankara Governor Mehmet Kılıçlar and a number of senior civil servants, including the Ankara provincial police chief, concerning an attack against their headquarters building launched earlier in the week.

Tensions have risen sharply in Turkey in the past few days, as the government continues a major military operation against PKK militants, whom have hit back with daily attacks against the army and police.

On the night of Sept. 8, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Ankara and other cities to condemn the increasingly bloody PKK assaults in the east. The demonstrators took aim at the HDP, whom they accuse of collaborating with the PKK, setting fire to a room in the party’s headquarters in Ankara and also setting a HDP office in the southern city of Alanya alight.

“Jeopardizing general security on purpose, provoking people for committing crimes by creating fear and panic and blocking use of political rights,” have been listed as charges against those officials subject to the HDP’s compliant.