Turkey’s Human Rights Association condemns PKK’s ‘punishment’ of civilians

Turkey’s Human Rights Association (IHD) in a press statement condemned the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) “punishment” of civilians after two men reportedly went missing on July 5.

According to the statement dated July 11, the Güngen and Batmaz families went to the village of Cevizdüzü, located in the foothills of Mount Cudi in southeastern Şırnak province, on July 5 to have a picnic, and then left the village in the vehicles of Selahattin Güngen and Üzeyir Batmaz. The two men reportedly spoke on the phone with their families at noon after they had dropped them off, after which they could not be reached. When they failed to return in the evening, the families went to a police station in Şırnak at around 9 p.m. and reported them missing. Their cars were found abandoned the next day near Mount Cudi. The families of the missing men applied to the IHD on July 7.

The IHD later learned from the news that the PKK announced that it had punished the two on the day of the incident, the statement said.

Mount Cudi has witnessed intense clashes between Turkey’s security forces and the PKK, considered a terrorist organization by the United States, Turkey and the European Union, and the group has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984. Violence in the largely Kurdish Southeast has escalated since the collapse of a ceasefire in 2015.

The IHD has been accused by Turkish authorities of being pro-PKK.

Referring to an incident in which a man named Çetin Güngör went missing in Şırnak on October 9, 2019, the IHD reminded that the abduction and execution of civilians under the guise of punishment is a serious violation of the right to life and the right to security and liberty.

“This is by no means acceptable. We condemn such acts. We hope that the statement that Selahattin Güngen and Üzeyir Batmaz have been punished is not related to an execution that would cause a violation of the right to life. Neither person has yet been reached,” the IHD said.

Referring to the armed conflict between the PKK and the Turkish security forces and the responsibility of the parties to an armed conflict to protect civilians as set forth by Article 3 common to all the Geneva Conventions, the IHD called on the parties to end violations of international humanitarian law and to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), authorized to monitor armed conflicts, to operate in Turkey.

“We would like to point out once again that we are deeply concerned about the increase in the PKK’s detention and punishment practices and that it should end this. We demand the release of persons detained by the PKK as soon as possible,” the press statement reads.

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