A video widely shared on Twitter on Friday night shows police patrolling the streets of Diyarbakır’s Sur district forcing schoolchildren and their parents to remove their coats and expose their midriffs to ensure they were carrying no explosives.
In the video, which was apparently recorded by other police officers in a patrol car during the days of armed clashes in the Kurdish-populated region, a police officer stops schoolchildren aged between 10 and 12 for a security check, asking them to remove their coats and expose their midriffs despite the cold weather.
The officer also stops women with the youngsters and asks them to do likewise in various similar footage.
Police officers in the patrol car are heard speaking about the children and women, sometimes pejoratively, and calling them “terrorists.”
Following the breakdown of a cease-fire in July 2015, clashes broke out between people affiliated with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Turkish security forces. In response to declarations of “self-governance,” the building of barricades and digging of trenches in Sur, the central district of Diyarbakır, and other towns across the Southeast, authorities began imposing 24-hour curfews and carrying out security operations.
On Dec. 11, 2015, an indefinite 24-hour curfew was declared in six of Sur’s 15 neighborhoods, preventing people from leaving their homes even to buy essential food or medical supplies. Police reportedly used loudspeakers to order people to leave. Water and electricity were cut for extended periods, while homes were rocked by army shells and peppered with bullets.
The clashes in Sur ended in March 2016, but the curfew has remained in large parts of the district. Following the forced evictions, almost all properties have been expropriated by Turkish authorities, with many buildings also demolished. Although return has been made almost impossible by the curfew and the destruction, some residents have ventured back only to find their homes ransacked and possessions looted or destroyed.