Turkish gov’t to testify in ECtHR for deaths during curfews in southeast Anatolia

People walk by the bombed buildings after the curfew in Şırnak, Turkey on March 3, 2016.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will ask Turkish authorities to testify concerning human rights violations and the killing of civilians by the Turkish military during curfews imposed in the Cizre district of the southeastern province of Şırnak, according to a report by the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency.

Turkish authorities declared military curfews in the predominantly Kurdish-populated southeastern provinces beginning in August 2015. The final curfew in Cizre lasted 79 days and ended on March 5, 2016. The majority of the district was demolished during clashes between Kurdish militia and Turkish security forces.

Security operations by the government affected more than 30 towns and neighborhoods and displaced between 355,000 and half a million people, mostly of Kurdish origin, according to a report released by the United Nations.

The same report said up to 189 men, women and children were trapped for weeks in basements without water, food, medical attention or power before being killed by fire induced by shelling.

The ECtHR published an announcement of the Cizre hearing on its website and said the cases of Ömer Elçi and Ahmet Tunç, both killed in the curfews, would be heard on Nov. 13 in Strasbourg.

Elçi and Tunç along with with other civilians died in the basement of a building while waiting for medical aid to reach them. The security forces refused to let ambulances enter the city, human rights organizations said.

Ramazan Demir, lawyer for the Tunç family, told Mezopotamya that the court had accepted two cases concerning Cizre, the first one involving the legality of the curfews and the second focusing on civilian killings.

If the court decides in favor of Tunç and Elçi, it would set a precedent for other civilians who died and the curfews imposed by the Turkish government, Demir said.

The Turkish government led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has declared at least 332 curfews in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern part of Turkey since August 16, 2015, according to a report released by the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) in October.

The TİHV report said Diyarbakır  was the province with the greatest number of curfews, at 190. The TİHV Documentation Center has also stated that 332 curfews were declared in 11 provinces and at least 50 districts from August 16, 2015, to October 1, 2018.

The provinces in which curfews were declared were Diyarbakır (190), Mardin (53), Hakkari (23), Şırnak (13), Bitlis (18), Muş (7), Bingöl (7), Siirt (7), Tunceli (6), Batman (6) and Elazığ (2).

According to the TİHV, at least 1,809,000 people were affected by the curfews. (SCF with Ahval)

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