Top court finds no rights violations of victims of 2015 curfew in Kurdish-majority city

Turkey’s Constitutional Court has unanimously ruled that the government did not violate the rights of people affected by a curfew in a Kurdish-majority southeastern city in which 137 people were killed in counterterrorism operations in 2015-2016, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Duvar news website.

The top court said the lethal force used by police was necessary to ensure security in the city, in response to applications filed by relatives of the victims, who claimed their family members’ right to life had been violated.

“It was not possible for the security forces to achieve their legitimate goals of protecting their own lives and the lives of others and suppressing the armed uprising by any lesser measure, and [therefore] the use of deadly force was an absolute necessity,” the Constitutional Court said.

Turkish authorities imposed curfews in southeastern towns and districts to flush out outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants from urban areas in Turkey’s Southeast starting in July 2015, when gross human rights violations took place, according to rights groups.

After Turkey’s local authorities lifted the curfew in February 2017, family members found several burned body parts in a basement and claimed that civilians were killed by Turkish military forces and burned to destroy the evidence.

In February 2018 a report by scientists from the Vaudois University Hospital Center (CHUV) in Switzerland showed that residents who took shelter in the basement of a building in a neighborhood of Turkey’s southeastern Cizre district in Şırnak during the curfews were shot to death and their bodies burned.

According to a report by Turkish human rights organization Mazlumder, more than 200 people were killed and over 10,000 houses were destroyed in Cizre alone during curfews that were imposed after July 2015.

During months-long curfews in Cizre’s Sur, Cudi and Nur neighborhoods, thousands of people, including women, children and the elderly, were trapped in their homes.

“Cizre witnessed unprecedented destruction following clashes which took place during a curfew lasting over 78 days, and unlike in curfews before, the curfew in Cizre saw mass killings,” Mazlumder said.

In February 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) declined to consider a complaint regarding curfew incidents in Cizre on the grounds that domestic legal remedies had not yet been exhausted.

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