Categorized | Turkey

Turkish troops ‘raiding civilian houses’ in Kurdish city of Silopi



© farukencu / Instagram

The Turkish Army has reportedly sent military vehicles, including tanks, into civilian areas in its predominantly-Kurdish southeast. While mainstream Western media remains silent, local activists posted frightening photos on social media.

The People’s Democracy Party (HDP) published a series of photos of the Thursday raid by the Turkish Army. According to HDP, soldiers in the Yenisehir district of Silopi “broke into a building and pointed guns at people.”

Ferhat Encu, an MP for the People’s Democratic Party, was taken into custody in Silopi.

“The world and those justifying this cruelty know well, this isn’t an ‘anti-terror’ act. This is an ethnic cleansing and genocide operation,” the party tweeted.

Ankara has been busy conducting military operations in the southeast since summer. Tensions have been mounting for months as security forces have been battling Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants after a ceasefire collapsed in July. The PKK has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkey for over three decades.

Earlier this week, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu promised that anti-PKK operations would continue in Silopi and Cizre in order to, as he put it, prevent the militants from “spreading the fire” from Syria and Iraq into Turkey.

“The terrorists will be wiped out from these districts. Neighborhood by neighborhood, house by house, street by street,” he pledged.

Nurcan Baysal, founder of the Diyarbakir Political and Social Research Institute, has described Davutoglu’s language as “very dangerous.”

“If the Turkish state wants peace with its Kurdish citizens, it should change its dangerous language into the language of peace,” Baysal told the Middle East Eye news outlet. “Unfortunately, the Turkish state has decided to wage war against the Kurdish people again.”

“People are without water, electricity, food, medical care, and many civilians have died – and state officials say that they will continue this.”

Figen Yuksekdag, the co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has publicly accused Davutoglu of “ordering a massacre” in Cizre and Silopi.

“Who are these operations against, Mr. Prime Minister?” Yuksekdag wondered at a press conference in Diyarbakir. “There are people living in these houses, Davutoglu,” she said.

Thousands took to the streets of Diyarbakir in late November after Tahir Elci, a lawyer and campaigner for Kurdish rights, was shot dead in while giving a speech on November 28. This became the last straw.

Seven Kurds were killed following clashes with Turkish security forces earlier this week. Two died in the city of Diyarbakir as protesters fought with police, while five lost their lives in the Mardin province.

Around 5,000 people gathered for a march in Diyarbakir on Monday, according to AP, which was called by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). Local residents gathered to voice their concerns about round-the-clock curfews being implemented in the region.

According to the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, there have been a total of 52 curfews imposed since mid-August across seven provinces in the region, affecting areas where some 1.3 million people live.

Residents from the pro-Kurdish town of Silvan (some 80km north east of Diyarbakir) said they had been shelled by Turkish forces in mid-November, while the never-ending curfew had driven them to the brink of starvation.

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