Curfews in Turkish Kurdistan

Curfews in Turkish Kurdistan

It was last January. I was in Brussels for a European Parliament meeting. A European journalist asked me about the curfews in Turkish Kurdistan. He told me that there were also curfews in Paris after the ISIS attack. He did not understand why Kurdish people were so angry about the curfews.

At that time, I understood that the word “curfew” does not fit our curfew experience in Turkey. Let me tell you what curfew means in Kurdistan.

The curfews in Turkey began in August 2015. At the beginning, they were just 3 or 4 days. After a while, the curfews became regular and months-long curfews were declared. Today, in the heart of my city, Amed-Suriçi, it is the 273rd day of the curfew.

Curfew does not only mean that you are not allowed to go outside of your home. In Turkey, it is more than that. When a curfew is declared, the state cuts electricity, water and sometimes communications. All access to the curfew areas, cities and districts are blocked.

Just think about it. You are in a house for months and months. You cannot go outside. Hunger sets in. In Nusaybin, a large Kurdish town, with a population of 120,000 people, curfew continued for more than 4 months, between March and July 2016. Women had to give animal food to their children in order to survive.

What’s happening outside your home during curfews? There is bombardment.  Due to the bombardment, you cannot come close to the windows or use the garden or balcony of your home. You need to hide yourself in the darkest place of your home. The snipers shoot at the houses where there is light.

According to the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey’s report, published on 20 April 2016, more than 200 civilians have been killed inside their homes by bombings and sniper shots.

In curfew areas, schools are closed, health services, including ambulances are inaccessible. In Cizre, another Kurdish town, hundreds of young people were trapped in basements, wounded. The Turkish state denied access to health services to them. 176 people were burnt alive in these basements.

According to state statistics, more than 355,000 people were forced to migrate (February 2016 statistic).  Human rights associations report that number to be more than 500,000 people.

In most of the curfew areas, homes and buildings were destroyed after active operations finished. Today, hundreds of thousands of people are homeless, living in tents in Kurdish cities.

Special forces occupy everywhere in the curfew areas. Ultra-nationalist graffiti has been written on the walls of Kurdish cities. Fascist music has been played in the city centers by security teams. Countless dead bodies, like the bodies of İsa Oran and Mesut Seviktek, two young Kurdish men killed in my city, were left in the streets for months. When the bodies of İsa and Mesut were returned to their families, they were unrecognizable and had begun decomposing.  

I will finish with the words of Taybet İnan’s son, who was killed by snipers in Silopi. Her dead body lay in the street for 7 days. Her son said:

‘They shot our mom in front of our eyes. We do not know how many days, hours and minutes she lay there, injured. My mom was shot, and all we could do for 7 days and 7 nights was watch her dead body. We couldn’t go outside because of the snipers. Her body lay in the street, just a few meters away from our home. We watched her dead body from the window and stood guard against the animals, so they would not eat our mom’s body.”

I hope I was able to show you the difference between the curfews in Paris and curfews in Kurdistan!

Nurcan Baysal

30.08.2016, Diyarbakır