In Turkey / Türkiye

Hurriyet Daily News, Feb 2, 2016

ANKARA – The ongoing dispute between the Turkish government and the Kurdish-problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has shown no sign of slowing down, with the former categorically dismissing the latter’s charges over lack of medical services provided to 28 civilians stranded in the basement of a building in the Cizre district of southeastern Şırnak province as “speculation.”

Turkish military vehicles block ambulance from entering Cizre, Jan 27, 2016 (photo by Cihan)

Turkish military vehicles block ambulance from entering Cizre, Jan 27, 2016 (photo by Cihan)

Ambulances have been sent to the venue various times but came under fire in each attempt, Interior Minister Efkan Ala told reporters on Feb. 2. Meanwhile, the HDP has said that seven of the trapped civilians have already died.

“They couldn’t go because of shots fired and holes and barricades dug by terrorists,” Ala said, referring to alleged militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). “A fiction has been made to bring the fight against terror to a halt while it is about reaching success,” he said.

Earlier that day in parliament, HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş warned about probable impacts of ongoing military operations against PKK militants, which he says has been victimizing civilians, while also appealing to people to raise their voice about plight of the 28 civilians.

“If we have been lying about the basement floor in Cizre, then proving this lie would take only a minute. Why are you preventing access to the building?” Demirtaş asked at a parliamentary group meeting of his party.

Areas of city of Cizre, eastern Turkey, following Turkish military operations in Dec 2015, Jan 2016

Areas of city of Cizre, eastern Turkey, following Turkish military operations in Dec 2015, Jan 2016

“I want to call on my Turkish siblings. What is going on at the moment is not for the good of Turkish people. Each human losing his life is ours. They are able to do this because you remain silent. There is no Turkish-Kurdish conflict. There is a war declared by the AKP [the ruling Justice and Development Party] against Kurds here and in Rojava,” Demirtaş said.

“Each house that the AKP state has destroyed in Sur and each apartment that it has bombed in Cizre is leading to emotional breakdowns in İzmir and Istanbul too,” he added.

Demirtaş, who last month called on Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to go on a live broadcast together where they would respectively defend autonomy and the presidential system, also expanded his invitation.

“Let’s go on live broadcast. The president [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] and the prime minister can come together: ‘Full Stop and Comma.’ Let them come together,” he said, in an unveiled reference to comedy duo popular in Turkey in the 1980s called “Nokta ile Virgül” (Full Stop and Comma).

Controversy over Cizre basement continues with accusations from both sides,

Today’s Zaman, Wednesday, Feb 3, 2015

While both the press and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) officials report that there have been 15 injured people stranded for days in the basement of a house in Sirnak’s Cizre district, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Wednesday that despite various attempts to help them, no injured person came out for treatment from the basement in question.

HDP officials claim that 15 people are injured from a total of 25 people who have been stranded since Jan. 23 in the basement of a house in the Cizre’s Cudi neighborhood because security forces are refusing to allow ambulances to enter the area, which has seen intense clashes between the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish military as well as a long curfew. Cudi has been under curfew since Dec. 14, 2015.

On Wednesday, HDP deputy Osman Baydemir submitted a parliamentary question to Parliament which was directed at Interior Minister Efkan Ala regarding the injured citizens awaiting treatment in the basement in Cizre. Baydemir said in the inquiry that there was an armed intervention in the basement on Jan. 30 and that it is still not known what happened to the injured people 50 hours later.

The HDP deputy said the intervention in the basement took place when the people taking shelter there were told to leave as part of mutual efforts by officials from the Ministry of Health and the HDP. Baydemir said there had been no communication with the people in the basement floor since 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 30. “How does your ministry explain this incident in accordance with the constitution, national laws and treaties Turkey is party to?” he asked.

However, Prime Minister Davutoglu, who spoke at a meeting of his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in Ankara on Wednesday, said although his government made every effort to help the allegedly injured people in the basement floor in Cizre, nobody had come out for treatment.

Davutoglu said ambulances were dispatched to the closest safe zone near the house, despite heavy gunfire from the PKK, but although the ambulances were available between 7:21 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., the injured people did not come out from the basement floor. “There most probably are not any injured people there,” said the prime minister, refuting the possibility of their existence.

“Although 10 ambulances, a 30-member team and one helicopter have been sent to the area, the injured could not be rescued. Go and see for yourselves, we did all these things. We have made repeated attempts to get to the building in which there are allegedly dead and injured people in Cizre,” said Davutoglu.

In the meantime, HDP Co-chair Selahattin Demirtas said on Wednesday that a small team led by him, comprising of medical personnel, plans to visit the building in Cizre. Speaking to IMC TV, Demirtas said: “For days, no news has come from the people stranded in the basement floor in Cizre. I am appealing to the prime minister. The picture that will come from those buildings in Cizre could lead to the irreparable destruction of a bridge [to dialogue].”

In another development, there was a shift rotation between deputies of the HDP that are undertaking a hunger strike which started last week inside the Interior Ministry building in Ankara to raise public awareness of and ultimately bring aid to the stranded people in a Cizre building. The hunger strike which began with HDP deputies Idris Baluken, Meral Danis Bestas and Osman Baydemir continued with HDP Deputy Group Chairman Çaglar Demirel and HDP deputies Nihat Akdogan and Ahmet Yildirim in the Turkish Parliament on Wednesday. The HDP had announced that the party’s officials would take part in the hunger strike in shifts.

Read also:
Demirtaş calls upon the government to open a human corridor in Cizre, ANF News, Feb 3, 2016

In a press release today, HDP Co-President Selahattin Demirtaş said that he was ready to go to Cizre with a team of medics and retrieve the wounded people there to the hospital.

Operations in Cizre, Sur to be completed within days, weeks: gov’t, Hurriyet Daily News, Feb 2, 2016

Is Turkey introducing a new anti-terror doctrine?, commentary on Hurriyet Daily News, Feb 2, 2016

… Doubtlessly, Turkey’s number-one agenda item is – still – its fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) despite visions that the government would launch a new reconciliation process in the aftermath of the November 2015 elections. On the contrary, the operations in the Southeast Anatolian provinces have intensified with a change in concept and scope after the PKK began urban warfare in a number of towns in the region. The clashes are getting heavier, and so are the casualties and the sufferings of the local people.

… all indicators show the government is readying for an anti-terror campaign that could last “years” with an ultimate objective of reaching what it describes as “sustainable comfort.”

HDP leader accuses Turkish PM of aping Franco by citing Spanish city of Toledo, Today’s Zaman, Feb 2, 2015

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) leader Selahattin Demirtas said on Tuesday that Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s analogy between the historic Sur district of Diyarbakir and the Spanish city of Toledo — known for its historic struggle with Spain’s fascist regime — reveals his similarity to fascist dictator Francisco Franco.


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