Turkey Destroys Kurdistan, World Silent

If Kurds left their homes, they would be shot. If they stayed in their homes, they would be bombed.

In 1990s, the Turkish military used to burn down Kurdish villages; today they burn down Kurdish towns.

This month, three neighborhoods in the Kurdish town of Silvan in Diyarbakir Province — Tekel, Konak and Mescit — were put under military curfew and then attacked from November 3 to November 14. Telephone lines, water, and electricity were cut.

The neighborhoods, besieged by armored police vehicles, were then bombarded by tanks and artillery shooting from the hills. Many houses were hit by bullets and bombs; some houses were burned. [1]

Representatives of the governor’s office in Diyarbakir claimed that the military operations aimed to “remove the ditches and barricades” set up by some Kurdish youths, but reports coming from the town showed that the operation actually seemed to aim at ethnically cleansing the town from its indigenous population of more than two thousand years, the Kurds. [2]

“We cannot get information from those neighborhoods in any way.” Firat Anli, the co-mayor of Diyarbakir, told Firat News Agency (ANF). “We cannot send in any food or humanitarian aid. Dialysis patients, children, the elderly… We have no information about their situation. They have been disconnected from the rest of the world.”

Edip Erk, a former deputy of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, HDP, told the Bianet News agency:

“Three HDP deputies have been in those neighborhoods. They say there are many wounded. Even martial law permits the wounded to be taken to hospitals but in Silvan they [Turkish officials] are not allowing that.

“The public institutions in those neighborhoods, such as the health care center, are closed. There is a huge food shortage. We have informed the authorities that we would like to send in a truck with food but we have not yet received their response. So the truck is still waiting.

“The chief of police of the city told us he is not administering the operation. The Ministry is. It is a military operation. Here, it used to be like an open prison; now it is an open torture center.”[3]

The special operations police, from their mosques and armored vehicles, told the residents of the town to “evacuate the neighborhoods or we will shoot all of you.”

If Kurds left their homes, they would shot. If they stayed in their homes, they would be bombed.

Silvan was not the first target of the Turkish military after the 7 June elections. Many towns and cities that are the strongholds of the Kurdish national movement — such as Diyarbakir, Cizre, Sirnak and Hakkari — have been attacked.[4]

Turkey Destroys Kurdistan, World Silent
The Kurdish town of Cizre in Turkey was indiscriminately bombarded by Turkish security forces in September. Many homes were heavily damaged or destroyed. Photographic evidence shows many buildings and vehicles in the town riddled with bullet holes.

Ziya Pir, a deputy of HDP, said that an official from the Ministry of Interior told him that “they will erase these three neighborhoods in Silvan from the map… Special operations teams open fire at everything they see as alive.”[6]“This must be the ‘new Turkey’ they promised,” said Abdullah Zeydan, a deputy of the city of Hakkari. “Now they target and wound even the MPs. I do not know where they get this power from. Before elections, the AKP promised stability and peace; their view of stability and peace is using violence against MPs.”[5]

Pir added that their talks with authorities bore no results; the governor and district governor told them that “they have received the orders from higher authorities.”

The governor office of Diyarbakir nevertheless announced, “In the town centre, it has taken all kinds of precautions to provide life and property security of citizens, to preserve the current peace and stability, to protect citizens from all kinds of terror acts and to guarantee safety and order in accordance with all relevant legislation.”

Pro-government media outlets celebrated the attacks. The newspaper Haberturk, for instance, joyfully reported: “A great operation joined by tanks has been started in Silvan.”

Silvan has been turned into a ghost town. 20,000 people have reportedly fled a city of 86,600.

And after Silvan, the new target of the government is the Kurdish town of Nusaybin, which voted 89.4% for the pro-Kurdish HDP party in 1 November elections.

A military curfew was declared in the town on November 13 and is still going on. People are stuck in their homes.

Ramazan Kaya, a doctor working at Nusaybin State Hospital, told BBC that one of his relatives had to put his child in the refrigerator to reduce his fever.

Those who go outside are shot by police. Selamet Yesilmen (44), a mother of five and pregnant, was one of them. She was shot dead in front of her house by a sniper on November 15. Her two children were badly wounded and hospitalized. Yilmaz Tutak, who tried to run to her help, was also shot and wounded by police.

Tahir Elci, president of the Diyarbakir Bar Association, confirmed that Yesilmen was shot with a weapon whose bullet is used by snipers; it goes faster and explodes in the body.

On November 18, Hasan Dal, 45, was murdered in the garden of his house. 13 people have been wounded so far. One was Gule Tutak, the mother of Yilmaz Tutak, killed earlier by police.[7]

This is the second curfew to which the town has been exposed since the June 7 elections. The first was declared on October 1 and lasted six days. Ahmet Sonmez (61) and Sahin Turan (25) were killed by police.

Most of the people in these towns have resisted the decades-long assimilation imposed by the Turkish state. They still speak Kurdish, and still demand national rights and self-rule. Those are reasons enough for the Turkish state to see these towns as enemies that should be destroyed.

The Turkish state has never treated a non-Turkish or non-Muslim group morally or justly. Murder and destruction have become centuries-long traditions of the Turkish rule. Today, the oppression in Turkey against minorities continues unabated. A hundred years ago, the Turkish regime slaughtered Armenians, Anatolian Greeks and Assyrians while the world was mostly silent. Now it is Kurds’ turn. The world is still silent.

Uzay Bulut, born and raised a Muslim, is a Turkish journalist based in Ankara.

[1] See photos and videos of the curfew here: “‘Erasing from map’? Scenes of destruction as Turkish military besiege Kurdish town of Silvan (VIDEO)”, 11 Nov 2015, Russia Today

[2] “There is no doubt that a Kurdish people had existed as an identifiable group for possibly more than two thousand years,” wrote the researcher David McDowall in “Modern History of the Kurds,” I. B. Tauris; 2004.

[3] The week of November 3, six Kurds — Muslum Tayar, Sertip Polat, Engin Gezici, Ismet Gezici, Mehmet Gunduz ile Yakup Sinba – were shot dead by police. One of them, Engin Gezici, a 24-year-old father of three, was murdered in front of his house. His aunt, Ismet Gezici, 55, ran to his aid but was also shot dead. HDP deputies and other Kurdish representatives tried to get his body, but the police did not allow them to enter the neighborhood. After that, three relatives of Gezici, despite intensive attacks, entered the neighborhood and took it. But they were stopped and arrested by police who then seized the dead body. Engin and Ismet Gezici were laid to rest in Diyarbakir under the sounds of explosions and gunshots.

[4] The newspaper Ozgur Gundem reported that police opened fire at a coffee house in the Feridun neighborhood, not under curfew. Mehmet Yavuz (45), Seyfettin Kurt (44) and Abdulsamet Kesici (50) were badly wounded. Yavuz died on the way to hospital. Abdullah Guney, 7, was wounded by bullets, and Ibrahim Yazkent, 12, by a grenade.

Meanwhile, university students in the Kurdish province of Hakkari organized a protest that was also joined by two HDP deputies. Both of them, and Selma Irmak, were wounded by the police. “We joined the demonstration as the deputies of Hakkari,” said Zeydan. “Panzers stopped us and without giving a warning, they started to attack us. It was a targeted attack. My hand was broken; there are rashes, and scars over my body.

[5] “While we were talking to the police, they shot their guns,” said Irmak, who was also wounded. “A plastic bullet hit my ear. They targeted and shot us within spitting distance. All of a sudden, they used both gas bombs and plastic bullets.” (Video)

[6] Pir continued: “And this is what they are doing right now. They are opening fire at everywhere — including indiscriminately at civilians. The soldiers, police or some unregistered people that I call “head hunters” rake through everything from top to bottom where they see life.” Pir said that heavy weapons were used in those neighborhoods, tanks were deployed in the hills facing the region; the buildings were hit with artillery fire, civilians in groups of 10 or 15 took shelter in the basement floors of their houses.

[7] Dicle News Agency reported some of the wounded. Suleyman Altekin, 65, was shot and wounded by police while trying to go to his son’s house. Faysal Cakar and his 10-year-old son Cano Cakar were wounded by shrapnel from a grenade launched by the police. Sirin Bilgin was shot in the back on the balcony of her house. Abdulkadir Yilmaz, 65, had a heart attack and died because he could be taken to hospital only 3 hours later due to the blocked roads. Halime Guner (35), a mother of 3, was shot in the foot, in front of her house. Fatma Kulat, 42, was shot and badly wounded by police while she was in her kitchen.



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