‘My daughter’s name was Cizir’ …The Purging of a People: Kurds in Turkey and How to Support Them

Cizre city bombed by the Turkish Government, 2016

Cizre city, repeatedly bombed by the Turkish Government, 2016

By Z.S.:

‘Kurds have no friends but the mountains’ says the old Kurdish proverb. History and current events in Turkey serve as testimony to this sad conviction.

Since 6 August 2015, there have been 58 officially confirmed, open­ended and round­the­clock curfews in cities that have a Kurdish majority in Turkey. These have taken place across seven south­eastern cities (primarily Diyarbakır, Şırnak, Mardin and Hakkâri), within at least 19 districts, where in total approximately 1.5 million people reside.

The Turkish state claims it is fighting terrorists. But in reality it is murdering civilians. One of the youngest children killed, Cemile Çağirga, was only 13 years old. The oldest victim, Mehmet Erdoğan, was 74. Both were shot by army snipers: Cemile whilst playing in their garden, Mehmet was shot in the forehead one night when he went out to buy bread.The child’s body was kept for two days in a freezer in the house, whereas the old man’s body could not be removed from the street for days, as soldiers shot anyone who went near the body.

The government says they are searching for terrorists. Was this old man carrying his sack of dry bread a terrorist? Was this child, along with the many other children killed in the city, a terrorist?

Who is the terrorist: the one who is killed in his home, with no weapon to protect himself or herself, or the one who enters other people’s homes and kills whoever he finds there: men, women, children, or babies, the old and the young? And only the aggressor has a weapon, only the aggressor kills civilians, but his act of murder is made legal by the state which sent him there at the first place!

Will NATO and the EU now label Erdogan and his government a terrorist organization and add them on to their blacklist? If they will not: why not?

What else are they waiting for? Was Suruc [1] not enough, was Diyarbakir, Ankara, Sırnak, Mardin, Hakkâri ­ where the the army burns civilians with chemical gas [2] ­ still not enough? Will the rest of the world sit back and wait until all Kurds are killed?

This Europe of ours is completely without backbone and without a moral compass, as it closes it’s hypocrite eyes and continues to be an accomplice to the massacres of civilians out of political convenience and moral disregard. And, now they will keep silent in exchange for not having to deal with the Syrian refugees fleeing from war; like they are goods which can be bartered instead of human beings.

The only way the EU might consider standing up against the state­terrorism perpetuated by Erdogan is if the 1.5 million Kurdish population of these cities in the East of Turkey would head to Europe, seeking refuge from war. (Yes, there is war in the East: If you compare recent photos of Cizre and Aleppo, you cannot tell the difference). But the Kurdish population of Turkey does not want to leave Turkey for Europe: they were born here and want to die here. But they want to die as human beings with dignity, not like slaughtered animals.

By the end of the military curfews imposed on Cizre city (Şırnak), March 2016, nearly 200 civilians were killed by the Turkish special forces, including babies and the elderly, thousands of people were injured and hundreds (including children) taken into custody. Some 10,000 houses were destroyed.

“When over 100 people have been injured in Cizre, we called for the international community to help them, but got no reply, and all of them were killed. Now, four districts are totally destroyed in Cizre. Some 10,000 houses are in a completely unlivable condition, including those buildings that did not come under shelling. Turkish troops entered those houses, marauded and made everything they could to make the buildings unlivable, on purpose …” Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) MP Dirayet Tasdemir declared in an interview. [3]

The round­the­clock curfews, a total ban on residents leaving their houses, has been accompanied by the cutting of mobile phone signals, the blocking of roads, the prevention of anyone from entering or leaving the city, and reported cuts to water and electricity. Outside observers have also been banned from entering the city.

According to residents interviewed by Amnesty International and by the Diyarbakır Bar Association, statements made by the authorities that food and medical services have been made available throughout curfews were found to be untrue.

The violence in Cizre peaked on 7th February 2016, when more than 150 civilians were killed by Turkish security forces, reportedly many burnt alive. [4]

The evidence shows these were intentional massacres and deliberate executions that “cannot be explained only as a result of the fighting.” Some of the dead were children as young as nine to 10 years old. Some of the totally burned corpses could not be identified. [5]

Turkish military opened fire without warning on groups of unarmed Kurdish civilians waving white flags, killing and wounding several people. [6]

During the military operations there were reports of close to 100 people trapped in basements, some of them wounded, and that the government denied an emergency ambulance access. [7]

Cumhuriyet published a recording of a telephone conversation with the citizens in one of the basements.[8]

In another recording it is reported that Turkish security forces burned around 20 people alive after pouring gasoline into a basement, and that they were playing music used by the ultra­nationalist or fascist organisations Grey Wolves and MHP [9]

Diyarbakır Bar Association published an extensive survey report about the events in Cizre in September 2015 [10], here are some of the witness statements from the report:

Ramazan Çağirga (the father of Cemile Çağirga, 13 years old, shot by a sniper)

“My daughter was shot in the courtyard of our house on the third day of the events. It was around 21:00 in the evening. I, her mother and my other children were at home. (…) We put my daughter body in a freezer to keep her body from decay when no one came. We kept her body in the freezer for two days. After two days, we took my daughter’s body to the morgue of mosque with the HDP MPs’ help. So far, any authorities has not contact with us. They have not taken any statement. (…) My daughter’s name is Cemile but we call her Cizir since she was little. Her real name is Cizir”.

Tarık İrçi (Running a Corner Shop/ the father of Bünyamin Irçi, 14 years, shot by soldiers)

“My son Bünyamin IRCI was 14 years old. He was going to the 8th grade. Our house is in Kale neighbourhood. (…) The weather is quite hot in here. My son Bünyamin and a few children were carrying ice blocks for people to other neighbourhoods because there was no electricity in their areas and the weather was hot. I woke up on Wednesday morning on 09th September 2015, I checked the internet, especially the news related to Cizre. I learned from the internet that my son Bünyamin IRCI had lost his life. My son’s uncle stays in the neighbourhood where my son had been shot. We thought he was at his uncle’s house in that night. (…) After the curfew was lifted, we brought his body here and buried him. Prosecutor asked me about who killed my son. I said to the prosecutor: “You killed my son, your security officers killed my son”. As far as I know, he had been shot from his forehead, his temple, his heart and his hands although he surrendered and he lifted his hands”.

Sadun Taşkin (41­ Vegetable Vendor/ the father of Özgür Taşkin, 18 years old when killed)

“My son Özgür Taşkın was 18 years old and he was going to 3rd grade in high school. Our house is at Yafes Neighbourhood, Sınır Street on the Silk Road which is close to the Syrian border. He went to his uncle’s house to drink water and watch the news on TV. (…) He went there at 04.00 a.m. and after an hour at 05.00 a.m. he was shot on his way back home. They shot my son. (…) His right arm was completely shattered and ruptured. He was shot at from various parts of his body. There were military panzers and tanks in front of our house. Their backs were against to the Syrian border and their fronts were turned to the neighbourhood. (…) I have six daughters and Özgür was my only son and he was the eldest of my children. My wife gave birth to our youngest baby 20 days ago. My wife had heard that my son was shot. I was asleep and she had been crying out and she came and told me that Özgür had been shot. We immediately got up and ran to see him. He said “mom, dad, let me kiss you, give me your blessings” and he kissed us, then he died in my arms. The voices of gunfire was coming from all sides, we could not take our son to the hospital”.

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This is the way people in Cizre live and die.The Turkish media, largely ignores these massacres, mainly out of fear to report. There is no media freedom in Turkey. [11]

The survivors are not only traumatized, but also in extreme need. There are many ways you can help however, which can make a big difference:

1. You can send money (there is no minimum, even the smallest amount helps) to Cizre Rojava Dernegi, an NGO based in Turkey

(https://www.facebook.com/Cizre­Rojava­Dernegi­685757461567429/ )

İş Bankası Ofis Diyarbakır Şubesi

TL IBAN : TR96 0006 4000 0018 3030 8933 06

USD IBAN : TR03 0006 4000 0028 3030 2128 71

EUR IBAN : TR13 0006 4000 0028 3030 2128 85

Ziraat Bankası Ofis Diyarbakır Şubesi

TL IBAN : TR73 0001 0011 5070 4108 9850 01

USD IBAN : TR46 0001 0011 5070 4108 9850 02

EUR IBAN : TR19 0001 0011 5070 4108 9850 03

2. You can send raw materials. Current list of the most required items: oil, dried beans, rice, lentil, tomato sauce, baby food, and anything which could be used for breakfast (for example small boxes of jam, butter, tahini etc.). They also need nappies and female hygiene stuff, mattress, shoes (all sizes). Clothes and shoes should be unused.

For the address contact the organization: cizredensurakoordinasyon@gmail.com; phone number: 0090­554­345­8424

3. My Kurdish Family project . You can ‘adopt’ a family from Cizre. Many families have lost loved ones, lost their home, health, and are deeply traumatized. Beyond material help, they also need care and solidarity from the ‘outside world’: from and beyond Turkey. So if you are ready to make the commitment of being part of a family from Cizre for minimum 1 year, staying in regular contact with them (for example monthly letters, emails or phone calls), and a min. of 300tl (around 100 euros) of direct help to your chosen family, please get in touch. The list of families and their contact details are at the HDP (People’s Democratic Party) offices, you can request it and get more details at: vmelci@gmail.com.

References

[1] http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/22899/the­ankara­massacre­and­the­state­as­a­serial­kill

[2] http://www.nouvelleturquie.com/en/kurdistan­en/more­than­40­people­have­been­killed­by­chemical­weapons­in­yuksekova/

[3] https://www.rt.com/news/338873­west­hypocrisy­turkey­kurds

[4] https://www.rt.com/news/335200­cizre­burned­beheaded­kurds­erdogan/ ,

http://www.dw.com/en/turkish­forces­accused­of­mass­murder­in-southeast/a­19044651

[5] http://info.arte.tv/de/die­geheimen­todeskeller­der­tuerkei ,

http://info.arte.tv/fr/les­caves­de­la­mort­en­turquie

[6] http://www.reuters.com/video/2016/02/01/un­urges­turkey­to­probe­shooting­of­una?videoId=367245961

[7] http://www.dw.com/en/death­toll­rises­among­kurds­trapped­in­cizre­basement­amid­heavy­fighting/a­19012447

[8] http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/video/video_haber/478893/Cizre_de_bodrumda_mahsur_kalan_Derya_Koc__Yaralilari_benzin_dokup_yaktilar.html

[9] http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/video/video_haber/478893/Cizre_de_bodrumda_mahsur_kalan_Derya_Koc__Yaralilari_benzin_dokup_yaktilar.html#

[10] http://www.diyarbakirbarosu.org.tr/filemanager/cizre%20raporu%20ingilizce%20(1).pdf

[11] In a telling example of how little tolerance the authorities have for any form of criticism regarding the operations, on 9 January, state prosecutors initiated a criminal investigation for “making propaganda for a terrorist organization”, against a chat show host. The investigation was launched after a caller to the “Beyaz Show”, a teacher from Diyarbakir said that mothers and children were being killed in the south east, urging people not to stay silent about it. The chat show host, Beyazıt Öztürk, thanked and applauded her for her contribution, saying he supported her call for peace. A media uproar, death threats against those involved and investigations against the chat show host, the head of the television programme and the caller, Ayşe Çelik ensued.

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