UN records 'massive destruction, right violations' in Turkey's Kurdistan

"The family of a woman who died in Cizre in February 2016 was invited by a local public prosecutor to collect her remains, which consisted of three small pieces of charred flesh."

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) - Turkish army engaged in massive destruction, killings, and numerous other grave breaches of human rights in the past two years in urban population centers across the Kurdish-majority region that saw hundreds killed and up to half a million displaced, documented a United Nations report released on Friday.

The Office of UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) wrote that between July 2015 and December 2016 during Turkish government forces' operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) some two thousand people were killed.

Of the figure, 800 were members of the Turkish forces, and approximately 1,200 were local residents, "of which an unspecified number may have been involved in violent or non-violent actions against the State."

The UN reported of forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and torture during, in some cases months-long, round-the-clock curfews in towns such as of Nusaybin, Cizre, Sur, Yuksekova, Dargecit, Sirnak, Silopi, Idil, Lice, and Silvan.

In one case, the family of a woman who died in Cizre in February 2016 was invited by a local public prosecutor to collect her remains, "which consisted of three small pieces of charred flesh, identified by means of a DNA match."

"The family did not receive an explanation as to how she was killed nor a forensic report. The victim’s sister, who called for accountability of those responsible for her death and attempted to pursue a legal process, was charged with terrorist offenses," said the OHCHR.

She was one 189 IDPs, men, women, and children trapped in a Cizre basement which government forces to shelling while singing "chauvinistic songs."

The operations, involving thousands of troops, heavy artillery, as well as the Turkish Air Force, affected more than 30 towns in several provinces, destroying in some case up to 90 percent of residential areas, with entire neighborhoods razed to the ground even after clashes' end.

Declarations of autonomy by PKK's youth affiliates who dug trenches in towns and the breakdown of a tentative ceasefire between the group and the government led to a renewal of the conflict.

With Turkish government's refusal to grant a UN delegation access to the Kurdish region, the findings were based on satellite imagery, interviews with survivors, analysis of information from the authorities and NGO records.

The UN also said authorities imprisoned scores of Kurdish journalists and hundreds of politicians including democratically-elected representatives who were removed from their posts.


Editing by Ava Homa