Turkish gov’t reportedly launches food embargo on Kurdish villages

The Turkish government has started to reimplement a food embargo that was in force during the 1990s on Kurdish villages in the eastern and southeastern parts of the country, according to a report by the pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency (ANF) on Saturday.

Lawyers told ANF that the Turkish government, which failed to supervise the tons of food transported to radical armed organization abroad, is after bags of sugar and flour the Kurdish villagers purchase from the market.

The report said Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu sent a notice to the Gendarmerie General Command and police directorates across Turkey and announced food embargos in 32 provinces including Ağrı, Batman, Bingöl, Bitlis, Diyarbakır, Elazığ, Erzincan, Erzurum, Van, Trabzon, Giresun and Gumüşhane.

“Bulk purchases of foodstuffs like flour, sugar, canned goods, halwa and jams from wholesalers, supermarkets and corner shops will be monitored by security forces, and they should be assessed from an intelligence perspective. Trucks, vans, minibuses and other such suspicious vehicles should be searched at road checks. Persons in possession of food and vital necessities that could be used by the terrorist organization will be interrogated about where they live, the routes they take and the number of people they are providing the foodstuffs for,” said the notice.

Lawyer Emel Demir said the current situation surpasses that of the 1990s. “In the 1990s, it was just consumption that was overseen, but now almost all factories that produce foodstuffs and vital necessities will be under control. This is certainly an embargo.”

“In our villages, people prepare for winter and buy their vital needs in bulk, such as 20-30 bags of flour or sugar because access to city centers is limited in winter. Now, will these people be detained and questioned for buying in bulk? This is a martial law practice. And, will they be inspecting the tons of foodstuffs the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri ve İnsani Yardım Vakfı, or İHH, in Turkish) transports?” Demir said, asking “How can something that is allowed for them be banned for citizens?”

Lawyer Feyzi Çelik also said: “According to the constitution, people have the economic freedom to meet their needs. There is no legal obstacle to buying in whatever amounts people want. If individuals have been detained in the past, they will be given a hard time in meeting their vital needs and buying food.”

Stating that there is no constitutional basis for this implementation, Çelik added: “People have the right to purchase however much they wish. Such practices don’t even have a place under martial law. This is an arbitrary administrative measure. There can’t be a restriction on the purchase of goods under martial law or a state of emergency. This is completely arbitrary.”

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