Faisal Sarıyıldız, an exiled deputy from Turkey’s pr0-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), stated in a speech at the United Nations Human Rights Council’s 37th Human Rights Sessions in Geneva that “because there was silence for the crimes against humanity in Cizre, [autocratic Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan continues his massacres today in Afrin. Action must be taken.”
A panel discussion on human rights in Turkey was held at the UN office in Geneva on Friday and Sarıyıldız, a witness of the Cizre killings, lawyer Hülya Uçpınar and human rights defender and conscientious objector Halil Savda took the stage.
According to a report by the pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency (ANF), Sarıyıdız spoke about the killings in Cizre with a slideshow. “The Turkish state committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Cizre for 79 days. UN High Commissioner of Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Husein called the events of those days ‘shocking.’ The incidents in Cizre were later defined in UN reports as ‘apocalyptic scenes.’ What they called apocalyptic were actually war crimes crimes against humanity, but they avoided openly stating that.”
Stating that it was unacceptable that the UN still doesn’t pursue the Cizre incidents, Sarıyıldız said that the continued silence against Erdoğan and his government today despite the Turkish state committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Cizre in front of the whole world to see goes against the raison d’etre of the UN. Sarıyıldız added that “Because there was silence in those days, Erdoğan continues to commit the same war crimes and crimes against humanity today in Afrin.”
Sarıyıldız said the Turkish state continues to do the same thing today in Afrin that they did in Cizre and protested the inaction towards the Turkish government and Erdoğan. Sarıyıldz also stated that Turkey is continuing the attacks despite the UN Security Council resolution for a month-long cease-fire and called on the UN to take action at this point.
Savda also pointed out that judiciary as an institution is not functional in Turkey. Savda said in Turkey today, anybody who is against the government is being targeted. He added: “The people who criticize the government’s policies no longer have any space to survive. The government is forcing everybody to think like them.”
Savda in addition mentioned the hardships conscientious objectors face in Turkey and stated that the militaristic structure of the state makes living as a conscientious objector impossible within the establishment.
Lawyer Uçpınar also stated during the panel discussion that “in Turkey if you are against wars and if you chose to be a conscientious objector, things reach such a level that it costs you your life.” Uçpınar stated that many conscientious objectors face extreme penalties for their objection.