The latest news from Turkey show the extent to which any expression of disagreement with President Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian policy is immediately accused of treason. Indeed, it is not even necessary to express one’s opposition — in the present atmosphere of paranoiac tension everyone is a potential danger to Mr. Erdogan’s authority and faces serious problems.
Thus, on the 6th of the month, the in absentia trial of Fethullah Gülen began in Istanbul, although the accused, who has lived in the USA for the last fifteen years. This influential 74-year-old Imam, the founder of a religious brotherhood, which has a great network of NGOs, schools, businesses and press organs, is accused of “high treason”, for which the Prosecutor is asking for a sentence of life imprisonment. The 66 people jointly charged with him are very much present — mainly former policemen, including two police chiefs. They are accused of being members of an armed organisation and face sentences of between seven and three hundred years imprisonment…
While long allied to the Gülen network, Erdogan quarrelled with the brotherhood after some AKP Ministers were accused of corruption in 2014, including his own son —charges that shook his political authority. Convinced that Gulen had masterminded these accusations, Erdogan declared war on him. Some 1,800 people suspected of being members of his “network” have been arrested since 2014and nearly 300 of them are awaiting trial in jail. The Turkish government is trying (so far without success) is securing the Imam’s extradition from the United States.
Another example: on the 11th the Public Prosecutors began a criminal enquiry for “terrorist propaganda” against the Kanal D broadcast of the “Beyaz Show ”. Why? Because during the, an actress from Diyarbekir had called to try and sound the alarm over the human cost of the military campaign now being carried out in Turkish Kurdistan. In danger of losing his job and faced with threats from the nationalists, the show’s presenter had to make public apologies.
However the main target, during the month of January, of Mr. Erdogan’s public condemnation and prosecution has been the 1,128 academics from 89 universities, both Turkish and foreign, who, on the 11th, signed an appeal entitled: “We will not be accomplices of this crime”. This appeal attacks the authorities’ policy of indiscriminate violence in the country’s Kurdish region. This appeal has been signed by, inter alia, the famous American linguist Noam Chomsky and the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek, and calls for the ending of the Army’s campaign in the Southeast and the resumption of negotiations with the PKK to find a peaceful solution to the Kurdish Question.
The following is the full text of this appeal.
As academics and researchers of this country, we will not be a party to this crime!
"The Turkish state has effectively condemned its citizens in Sur, Silvan, Nusaybin, Cizre, Silopi, and many other towns and neighbourhoods in the Kurdish provinces to hunger through its use of curfews that have been ongoing for weeks. It has attacked these settlements with heavy weapons and equipment that would only be mobilized in wartime. As a result, the right to life, liberty, and security, and in particular the prohibition of torture and ill treatment protected by the constitution and international conventions have been violated.
This deliberate and planned massacre is in serious violation of Turkey’s own laws and international treaties to which Turkey is a party. These actions are in serious violation of international law.
We demand the state to abandon its deliberate massacre and deportation of Kurdish and other peoples in the region. We also demand the state to lift the curfew, punish those who are responsible for human rights violations, and compensate those citizens who have experienced material and psychological damage. For this purpose we demand that independent national and international observers to be given access to the region and that they be allowed to monitor and report on the incidents.
We demand the government to prepare the conditions for negotiations and create a road map that would lead to a lasting peace, which includes the demands of the Kurdish political movement. We demand inclusion of independent observers from broad sections of society in these negotiations. We also declare our willingness to volunteer as observers. We oppose suppression of any kind of the opposition.
We, as academics and researchers working on and/or in Turkey, declare that we will not be a party to this massacre by remaining silent and demand an immediate end to the violence perpetrated by the state. We will continue advocacy with political parties, the parliament, and international public opinion until our demands are met".
(The text is translated in several languages in the Kurdistan site, http://http://www.kedistan.net/2016/01/05/baris-paix-peace-asiti-kurdistan/ as well as on several French language blogs).
This appeal was published on the 11th, that is the day before the Sultanahmet suicide attack in Istanbul. An hour after this attack, Mr. Erdogan showed, on television, what the French weekly Express described on its site as “a strange reaction”, even going so far as to wonder whether the Turkish President was “losing his head”. Speaking about the attack, President Erdogan immediately blamed it on ISIS before dropping any further mention of the Jihadst organisation and, in less than a minute, concentrating on furious attacks on the Kurdish PKK rebels and — on the signatories of the appeal “We will not be party to this crime”. Apparently driven rabid by this appeal, the Turkish President described the signatories as “pseudo-intellectuals” and “traitors to the country”, calling for over half an hour for the opening of a real witch-hunt against them.
Erdogan certainly does not lose his head where his projects for power are at stake, It is nore likely that he deliberately chose to “highlight” the appeal by academics, so as to distract Turkish public opinion from the sensitive question of Turkey’s relations with ISIS and to direct discussion round the question of support for his government — and so to his peoject of a presidential regime. His brutal attacks on his critics have enabled his to renew his policy of reaching out towards the ultra-nationalists for support for his project.
Thus the ultra-nationalist Sedat Peker, (who, incidentally, is a mafia chief who has already been sentenced on criminal charges regarding organised crime), has characteristically mobilised part of this Turkish neo-fascist movement in support of the Head of State. He has published on his web site a statement announcing that the signatories of this appeal should pay for it with their blood, describing them as “so called intellectuals” in ters similar to those used by President Erdogan. Peker added: “You should rather thank the police and the troops who you have tried to discredit. If these terrorists were to succeed in their mission of provoking the failure of the Turkish Moslem State you would really face moments of terror. The bell would then toll for all of you. Let me repeat: we will make your blood flow, we will bathe in your blood!”. Sedat Peker had already drawn attention to himself before the last November’s elections with a speech supporting Mr. Erdogan, in which he mingled Islamist and fascist references, in particular during a meeting in Rize, when he had stated: “blood would flow abundantly”.
Parallel to this, the pro-government and pro-nationalist web sites published the names of the “traitors”. The daily, Yeni Şafak, headlined “The PKK’s accomplices”. Some of t them were suspended from their university positions, like Latife Akyuz, a sociology lecturer at Duzce University. The YOK (The Turkish Council for Higher Education), abandoning any pretence at neutrality took disciplinary measures against others. Many were harassed by ultra-nationalist students, received death threats or had the doors of their offices marked with identifying signs. Photos started being passed round the social media headlined “PKK Terrorist”. Some frightened signatories withdrew their signatures, others went into hiding.
While the Ankara chief Prosecutor, according to the daily paper Hurriyet, started an investigation into Peker in response to a complaint filed by a lawyers’ association, ,other Prosecutors, obeying this time the “Sultan’s” instructions, started them against those threatened by Peker on the grounds of “terrorist propaganda”, “incitement to hatred” and “insulting Turkish institutions and the Republic”. According to the Anatolia Press agency, 12 researchers at Kocaeli University were arrested during police raids on their homes early in the morning of the 15th. In all, 21 academics were subjected to such raids and placed in detention.
This repercussion aroused many reactions in Turkey as abroad, As from the 14th, 558 intellectuals, mainly writers or stage directors, published their own declaration: “In our hearts we support the academics’ call for peace for peace. (…) We refuse to see freedom of expression so limited. (…) Without any reservations we refuse to take part in this crime. We support the initiative of “Academics for Peace”. On the same day, the Union of Chambers of Engineers and Architects and the Union of Doctors also made a a joint statement of support for the charged academics. On the 15th, 2000 lawyers signed a statement in which they commit themselves to be with the academics in the courts and in the street, while 30,000 students signed their own declaration of support for the charges academics. Finally, since the beginning of the proceedings against thousands more Turks have courageously expressed their support by themselves signing the incriminated petition — by the 18th there were 2,300 such signatures.
The YOK’s measures against some of the signatories were condemned by its French equivalent, the Conference of University Presidents. The US Embassy described the asrrests, in a twit, as “frightening”, adding: “Expressing concern regarding violence is not equivalent to supporting terrorism. Criticising the government is not treason”.
The Association of Middle Eastern Studies, representing 3,000 researchers, accused the Turkish Government of failing in its duty to protect the freedom of expression embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
On the 15th, Erdogan continued his attacks, describing the signatories as “contemptible” and “cruel”. “The people who have (expressed solidarity) with those who commit crimes are themselves guilty of those crimes” (…) “The fact that they have some title before their name, professor, lecturer or whatever it may be does not make them enlightened — they are people in deep darkness”. (…) “I have asked the legal institutions and University administrations immediately to take the necessary measures in the face of their violation of the Constitution and of our laws. Those who want to engage in politics can do it in Parliament. If they cannot, then they can go and dig trenches or go to the mountains (join the guerrillas)”. On the 20th, the decidedly inexhaustible Turkish President engaged in fresh attacks during the usual Press conferences he holds in his Palace to local journalists and politicians committed to his cause: “So you think you can try a break the Nation’s unity and continue to live comfortable lives on salaries that you receive from the State without suffering the consequences? That period is over”, he declared.
To commentators who reproached them for concentrating the attacks in their petition on the State without mentioning the PKK’s responsibilities, the signatories replied that they focussed on the State and not the PKK because the government was supposed to protect its own citizens and so it was up to it to answer for its actions, especially as it had itself started the peace process and then broken it off.
The Kurdish Institute asks the readers of its bulletin to support the threatened academics by making their petition known and by initiating or being associated with initiatives of support either locally or in their institution. They can also send a message of support to the following address: email@example.com .
The AKP authorities, as usual, have censored the petition’s web site, but email sent to this address was still arriving on 12 January.
Throughout the month of January the Syrian Kurds and their allies in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continued to show themselves the most formidable adversaries of the Islamist or Jihadist groups. On the 1st, a few days after they recaptured the Tishrin Dam (to the North of Raqqa), which the Jihadists had held since 2014, they also advanced on Aziz, fuether West and North of Aleppo, taking the village of Tanab from Al-Nusra Front (an the Al-Qaida affiliate) and the salafist Ahrar el-Sham. It should be recalled that the SDF had barely been formed when it retook 200 villages in Hassaké province last October, and, according to the US army had driven ISIS out of nearly 1000 Km2 of Syrian land in just six weeks.
These SDF victories have not pleased everyone. Turkey seems more worried at the presence of the Kurdish PYD (Democratic Unity Party) on its borders than that od ISIS, which on 3 January still controlled part of the Syrian-Turkish border between Raqqa and Jerablus without worrying it in the least… According to the Turkish daily Hurriyet, the Turkish army took advantage of the visit of a senior US Army officer to express their concern at the attempts of the Syrian Kurds to create a “Kurdish corridor” along the country’s Northern border and so “change the demographic structure of the region in their favour”. Following the recent absorption of the Kurdish town of Girê Spî (Tell Abyad) into the Rojava administration, the attempts of the PYD to cross the Euphrates and so enter the Jerablus-Azaz corridor particularly worried Turkey.
At international level, the diplomatic games being played between the Syrian parties and the foreign powers involved in the conflict concern mainly their most effective participation in the “Geneva III” negotiations, planned for 25 January. The Kurds have been excluded from the preparatory discussions. Already, last December, the SDF had not been invited to the meeting in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) that had resulted in the creation of a “High Negotiating Committee” (HNC) sponsored by Saudi Arabia and Turkey. In response, the SDF created, on Syrian soil, its own Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) so act as the political representation of their military alliance.
On the 9th, the Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid Al-Moualem, stated that his government was prepared to take part in the discussions while the HNC made its participation conditional on the stopping of all government bombing of civilians.
Two days later, on the 11th, the Kurdish PYD, the Syriac Union (an Assyrian party) and the KDP-S (another Kurdish party close to the Iraqi Kurdish KDP), decided to suspend their participation in the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change (NCC) that brings together a major part of the Syrian opposition, of which the PYD was, indeed, a founder member. A senior PYD official, Sihanouk Dibo, explained that the main reason was that the NNC had described the Kurdish YPG ad the YPJ and the SDF as terrorist organisations. Undoubtedly Turkey, that plays an important role in supporting this part of the Syrian opposition, manoeuvred to urge members of the NNC to adopt this stand.
Indeed, throughout January the Turkish Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, had repeatedly said that “We will only recognise the NNC as representing the Syrian opposition” — in other words the HNC “sponsored” by Riyadh with the support of Turkey (another “very Sunni” power). He added, “If any others want to sit at the table they can take their place alongside the regime representatives”. The Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoğlu, again warned, on the 25th, against any Kurdish participation in the UN organised negotiations on Syria, Turkey even threatening to boycott them is the PYD were to take part in the opposition. On the 26, Davutoğlu again stated: “We are categorically opposed to the PYD and the YPG, who oppress the Kurds, being at the (negotiating) table”. “The PYD, that cooperates with the regime cannot represent the just struggle of the Syrian people”. At the end of January, the spokesman of the Riyadh based HNC, Mohammed Allouch, (who incidentally is himself a member of the Jihadist organisation Jaysh Al-Islam (Army of Islam) took up the same stand regarding the PYD and the SDF, declaring that the place of their representatives to Geneva III was “with the regime”. The “official” delegation of the Syrian opposition even went so far as to write criticising Russia for trying to “impose the presence of the PYD and its allies”.
In his reply, Salih Muslim, co-President of the PYD took his stand on a somewhat overlooked field of secularism, retorting:
1. that the Jaysh Al-Islam’s way of thinking was the same as that of ISIS and
2. that acceptance of the opposition platform back by Riyadhh, “the idea of an Islamic Caliphate was unacceptable”.
Then moving to the pragmatic field, he foresaw that if the SDF and the Kurds were not represented at these negotiations they were bound to fail — just like Geneva I and II.
While Turkey remains fiercely opposed to the presence of the PYD curds at Geneva, Russia makes no secret of its support of the SDF. As far back as last September, Vladimir Putin had stated: “the only forces fighting ISIS in Syria are Assad’s and the Kurds’” and on the 26th Sergei Lavrov made a statement similar to Salih Muslim’s: “without this party (the PYD) discussions wont be able to achieve in what we are seeking — a final political solution for Syria …”.
The Kurds also indirectly benefit from the atrocious relations between the Russians and Turkey since a Russian fighter plane was shot down by the Turks last November. Russia has since (in retaliation?) increased its coordination for the YPG to support its advance in the Western part of the region so as to cut off the supply lines of several of the Turkish-backed rebel groups.
Moreover, since the loss of their plane, the Russians have installed anti-aircraft defences in the , which, in practice, serves to protect the Kurds from Turkish air strikes. It is interesting to note that this new protection has certainly helped the Kurds to push ISIS further Westwards, which shows to what extent Turkey is prepared to play the game of an objective alliance with ISIS to prevent the Kurds from progressing in Northwest Syria. It should be recalled that the Russian plane shot down in November had been targeting Turkmenians, a community that Turkey has tried, from the start of the conflict, to use against the YPG . . .
While Syria’s Northern border region, of which Syria’s Kurdistan Cantons are the backbone, is a sensitive area for the Turkish State, it is also a strategic one for al the protagonists in this war — Syrian or foreign. To the West it opens the way to Aleppo and the Alawiite Mediterranean coastline, while to the East it faces Iraq. Moreover, controlling it can also block the arrival of foreign recruits to ISIS from the North (i.e. from Turkey…). The Americans, like the Russians, clearly prefer to see this strip of land in the hands of the Kurds rather than ISIS, even if neither of them wants to say this aloud. Fir the Russians, whose prime objective is to support the regime, the Kurds are not the main danger, they are too concerned with ensuring the safety of their region, which is hard to defend, rather than operations against the regime. Moreover they have no ambition to control the country as a whole and, as secularists and nationalists, they have had from the start of the civil war, tense relations with the Syrian opposition, be it Islamist or Arab nationalist. For the American, entangled in the obvious failure of a policy of support for an opposition they judge unreliable and which has resulted in the emergence of the ISIS monstrosity, the resilience of the Kurds in the face of the Jihadists and their ability to federate even a small inter-ethnic group like the SDF is the first bit of good news in the Syrian civil war — just too bad for their Turkish ally.
According to the London based Syrian Centre for Human Rights (SCHR) and a SDF spokesman, the US special Forces, following an agreement with the YPG is said, on the 21st, to have taken control of the Rumeilan Airport in Hassaké province so as to support the SDF in their fight against ISIS. This was denied on Al-Jazeera on the 22nd by the US Central Command for the Middle East, but some satellite pictures of Rumeilan seem to show work of extending it taking place and a pentagon spokesman stated on the 25th that the small US team present in Syria “might need some occasional logistic support…”
According to the SCHR, also on the 21st, about a hundred Russian experts, soldiers and engineers, are said to have arrived at Qamishli, a Kurdish town on the Turkish border, controlled partly by the PYD and partly by the regime, to enlarge the town’s airport. This news was also denied on the 25th by Major General Konachenkov, who said that “Russia had no plans to set up a military base in Syrian Kurdistan since their could reach any part of the country in 30 minutes from their existing bases”. General Konachenkov even accused the Times of having issued this news “to cover the activity of the Turks, who were concentrating troops in the Qamishli region”.
As far as Turkey’s concerned, the arrival of the Russians has now excluded any land operations to intervene as well as any air strikes. The Turkish army is now reduced to the possibility of cross-border artillery fire West of the Euphrates.
Unlike the Russians, who in the present state of affairs are not concerned about soft soaping its relations with Turkey, the United States cannot allow itself to openly alienate its NATO ally — if only because it needs the use of the Incirlik air base. Hence, no doubt, the statement by the US State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, that the USA “is supporting the peace process taking place to organise discussions at Geneva”.
In fact, the price to pay for trying to rally the other parties round the same table seems to have been to accept the exclusion of the Kurds. However, two days later, on the 30th, the US Special envoy fro the fight against ISIS, Brett McGurk, accompanied by French and British officials, visited Kobané to meet leaders of the SDF about the fight against ISIS. This was the first time since the departure of their Ambassador that the US sent any official to Syrian territory — and it is also the first meeting between an official of that level and representatives of the SDF.
On the 22nd, according to an ANF (Euphrates News agency, close to the PYD and the PKK) source, two different opposition delegations should have taken part in Geneva III: the 18-person Turkish-Saudi backed delegation, including two Kurds Hakim Bashdar and Fuad Aliko (included at the demand of Masud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq) and a delegation from “Rojava”, i.e. the administration created by the PYD.
Because of strong opposition from Turkey, this delegation was not officially invited. It included the two co-presidents of the SDC, that is Ilham Ahmed (a Kurd from the PYD) and Haytham Manna (an Arab, a former Human Rights activist and co-founder of the NCC) and the co-President of the PYD, Salih Muslim, Qadri Jamil (a former Deputy Minister of Kurdish origin and close to Moscow) and another person representing the independents. However, when the UN sent out the invitations for Geneva III on the 26th, the PYD was not on the list while several Syrian public figures who were not members of the HNC were invited. This omission gave rise to a heated argument about the representation of the opposition, Russia considering that no negotiations could succeed without Kurdish participation while Turkey reiterated its rejection of their presence.
Haytham Manna, who had, in fact, been invited, stated that he would not take part unless his co-President, Ms. Ilham Ahmed, was also present, as well as Salih Muslim. Having failed to make his point he chose to withdraw.
When the Geneva III discussions finally began on the 29th, the HNC also refused to take part arguing that some towns were being besieged and there were still air strikes. The Kurdish leaders who had not been invited left Switzerland on the same day.
The Turkish President began 2016 tumultuously. On January 1st, wishing to argue in favour of his project of a presidential regime he couldn’t find a better reference for “an efficient Presidential regime that preserves the country’s unity” than— Germany under Adolf Hitler! His secretariat quickly busied itself spreading statement about a “misunderstanding”, recalling that the Turkish President had condemned the Nazi regimes abuses but international political leaders an the whole preferred to ignore the incident. The Europeans, in particular, maintained a discreet silence: entangled in the refugee crisis, of which Turkey holds the key, they found it in their interest to avoid any conflict with Mr. Erdogan. It is hard to describe this remark as the happiest of New Year wishes with which to start…
The reason Mr. Erdogan was trying to find credible references of “unitary” presidential regimes was, of course that he would not consider any kind of federalism or indeed anything that could imply the slightest seeds of division in the monolithic Turkey of his views. The AKP leader was, at this level, adopting the ideological heritage of Kemalism — and unfortunately for him most democratic countries with a more or less presidential system are, like the United States, federations, which excludes them from the list of possible references.
A few says before this “Freudian slip” by the Turkish President, on 28 December, there occurred a conference of Kurdish NGOs, the “Congress for a Democratic Society” (DTK). After two days debate at Diyarbekir, it had called for “autonomy for the South East”, that is of Turkish Kurdistan. The DTK’s work, made particular reference to the Spanish model, demanding the country’s decentralisation, formalising a demand that was first presented in 2011 that at times went close to the federalist ideas expressed in the 90s — not only for the Kurds but for many other peoples…
« Autonomy is also one of the words that anger Mr. Erdogan and his supporters. After the co-President of the “pro-Kurdish” HDP party had dared to refer to it by saying that “the Kurds in Turkey must decide whether they want to live in autonomy or under the tyranny of a single man”, Erdogan declared that Demirtaş was “engaging in flagrant provocations and treason” ant that the HDP leaders would have to “pay the price” of having expressed the demand for autonomy of the Kurds in Turkey.
Two legal investigations have been opened against the leaders of the HDP, including Demirtaş, on the grounds of their remarks that “the Kurds will, in the future, secure federal states, autonomous regions or independent states”.
In response, on 2 January the HDP lodged a complaint with the Ankara Public Prosecutor against President Erdogan, Prime Minister Davutoğlu and several other AKP Ministers, accusing them of denying the HDP its constitutional political rights as well as of incitement to hatred.
The Turkish President had also suggested that the Parliamentary immunity of Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yuksekdağ, the HDP co-presidents, be lifted in the context of an investigation into their “constitutional crime”. “We cannot accept statements calling for breaches in our country’s unity”, he specified. And when the Turkish President speaks he is obeyed: on the 3rd, according to a pro-government daily Sabah, Parliament announced the coming setting up of a commission to rule on lifting parliamentary immunity of the two co-leaders of the HDP to enable them to be tried for their statements on the autonomy of Turkish Kurdistan.
According to pro-Kurdish media, 36 mayors have already been sued on similar chargessince last summer and thousands of people have been arrested since 2009 for links with the urban organisation of the PKK, the KCK. On the 4th, Bekir Kaya, HDP co-mayor of Van, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for “links with the PKK”, and twelve others accused received 7nto 15 years, totalising 155 years jail., Legal intimidation is being carried out in Istanbul: on the 8th, the police carried out a 2-hour raid on the HDP offices in the Beyoğlu quarter, during which several people were kept in detention, including Rukiye Demir, the co-leader of the Beyoğlu area HDP.
Threats against Kurdish political public figures or those objecting to the military line adopted by the President are not limited to the legal field. According to the HDP, on the evening of the 5th three Kurdish policemen were killed in Silopi, a town of 80,000 inhabitants on the Iraqi border that had been under a curfew since 14 December. They were Seve Demir, a member of the DBP (Democratic party of the regions), FatmaUyar, member of the Congress of Free Women (KJA)et PakizeNayir, co-presidentof the Silopi People’s Assembly. A man who was with them was also killed but, because of the state of his face he could not be identified.
Leyla Birlik, HDP member of parliament for Şirnak, explained that she had received a phone call from them saying they had been wounded and asking to be evacuated. “The HDP asked the authorities to evacuate them from Silopi but received no reply. Their bodies were found later. Leyla Birlik declared “the faces of the man and those of our friends were so badly damaged that it was hard to identify them. I think they were executed after having been wounded (…)”. Her colleague of Urfa, Ibrahim Ayhan, stated: “They were civilians and well known public figures. We think they were targeted and assassinated”.
These Kurdish political public figures died while trying to join and help their fellow citizens, whose deaths have multiplied since the start of war operations against by the State’s forces against the urban quarters that declared in favour of “democratic autonomy”.
So many examples of these deaths of ordinary people could be cited, bur we will only mention those of Melek Alpaydin, 38 years of age, a mother of three children killed on 3rd December by a mortar shell in her flat in Sur, Diyarbekir’s old town, that has been under a total curfew since 2nd December…
On the 10th, the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights estimated the umber of civilian deaths since august at 162, including 24 old people, 29 women and 32 children.
The Turkish troops also imposed total curfews on Cizre and Silope. At Cizre the tanks stationed in the town centre shelled several outlying quarters while other armoured vehicles fired on the town from the surrounding hills. The security forces forbade the fire brigades access to many buildings so that many building were completely destroyed by fire. On the 29th, the fighting was still on in Cizre, according to the ANF news agency and the security forces were still refusing ambulances in to evacuate the town’s wounded, where over 30 civilians, dead or wounded, remained blocked by the fighting in their cellars.
On the 20th, Amnesty International published a report accusing Turkey of “collective punishment” against the residents of the Kurdish regions, accusing the Army of “excessive use of force”, pointing out that the “young children, women and aged people” killed were “most unlikely to have been involved in the clashes with the security forces”. Accusing the Turkish authorities of preventing observers from going to the areas under curfew, Amnesty called on the one hand for Turkey to end the unlimited curfew and the excessive use of force and on the other hand that the international community “stop looking away” from what is happening in Turkey.
The objective announced by the government for these war operations is always the same: “eradicating the PKK rebels”. However, despite all the forces engaged in these recent operations, it does not seem any nearer success than during all the years dince the beginning of the PKK’s armed actions in 1984…
On the 14th, the PKK carried out an attack on a police station and its adjacent barracks in the town of Cinar, in Diyarbekir Province. Two people were killed and 14 wounded in the initial attackand four killed (including a baby) and 25 wounded by the collapse of the building damaged by the explosion. The exchange of fire between the police and the rebeks lasted 40 minutes. On the 17th, the PKK published its apologies for the baby’s death while continuing to promise further attacks.
On the 18th, another road attack in Sirnak Province near the Syrian border caused three deaths and four wounded amongst the police. On the 27th, three police were killed in clashes in Diyarbekir although the curfew had been extended to five new quarters of the old city. Some 2000 residents of these areas preferred to leave their homes in fear of the fighting…
Nevertheless, the most serious attack Turkey suffered during these months was no carried out by the PKK. On the 12th, a suicide attack caused at least 10 deaths, mostly of German tourists, and 15 wounded, in the heart of the tourist quarter of Sultanahmet in Istanbul. As usual the authorities at first censored all news about the attack. Afterwards, Prime Minister Davutoğlu announced that during the two days following the attack Turkey had shelled over 500 ISIS positions in Iraq and Syria with artillery and its tanks — a statement unconfirmed by any independent source.
On the 29th of the month Selahattin Demirtaş who had been re-elected co-president HDP three days earlier, flew to Brussels to attend a Kurdish conference. He called on the international community to intervene: “it must call on both the Turkish government and the PKK to cease fire and to return to sane negotiations — and it must repeat this appeal several times”.