OPINION

Mehmet Erdogan, 74, killed in Cizre by Turkish forces

28/05/2016 - 13:59 0
The Murder Of Kurdish Civilians In Cizre: How To Support The Survivors

‘Kurds have no friends but the mountains’ says the old Kurdish proverb. History and current events in Turkey serve as testimony to this sad conviction.

Since 6 August 2015, there have been 58 officially confirmed, open-ended and round-the-clock curfews in cities that have a Kurdish majority in Turkey. These have taken place acrossseven south-eastern cities (primarily Diyarbakır, Şırnak, Mardin and Hakkâri), within at least 19 districts, where in total approximately 1.5 million people reside.

The Turkish state claims it is fighting terrorists. But in reality it is murdering civilians. The youngest child killed, Cemile Çağirga, was only 13 years old. The oldest victim, Mehmet Erdoğan, was 74. Both were shot by army snipers:  Cemile whilst playing in their garden, Mehmet was shot in the forehead one night when he went out to buy bread. The child's body was kept for two days in a freezer in his house, whereas the old man's body could not be removed from the street for days, as soldiers shot anyone who went near the corpse.

The government says they are searching for terrorists. Was this old man carrying his sack of dry bread a terrorist? Was this child, along with the many other children killed in the city, a terrorist?

Who is the terrorist: the one who is killed in his/her home, with no weapon to protect himself or herself, or the one who enters other people`s home and kills whoever he finds there: men, women, children, or babies, the old and the young? And only the aggressor has a weapon, only the aggressor kills civilians, but his act of murder is made legal by a state which sent him there in the first place!

Will NATO and the EU now label Erdogan and his government a terrorist organization and add them on to their blacklist? If they will not: why not? What else are they waiting for? Was Suruc not enough, was Diyarbakir, Ankara, Sırnak, Mardin, Hakkâri - where the army burns civilians with chemical gas - still not enough? Will the rest of the world sit back and wait until all Kurds are killed? 

This Europe of ours is completely without backbone and without a moral compass, as it closes its hypocritical eyes and continues to be an accomplice to the massacres of civilians out of political convenience and moral disregard. And now they will keep silent in exchange for not having to deal with the Syrian refugees fleeing from war; as if they are goods which can be bartered, instead of human beings.

The only way the EU might consider standing up against the state-terrorism perpetuated by Erdogan is if the 1.5 million Kurdish population of these cities in the east of Turkey would head to Europe, seeking refuge from war. (Yes, there is war in the East: If you compare recent photos of Cizre and Aleppo, you cannot tell the difference). But  the Kurdish population of 

Turkey does not want to leave Turkey for Europe: they were born here and want to die here. But they want to die as human beings with dignity, not like slaughtered animals.

By the end of the military curfews imposed on Cizre city (Şırnak), March 2016, more than 200 civilians had been killed by the Turkish special forces, including babies and the elderly, thousands of people injured and hundreds (including children) taken into custody. In late January, the military opened fire without warning on groups of unarmed Kurdish civilians waving white flags, killing and wounding several people.

"When over 100 people were injured in Cizre, we called for the international community to help them, but got no reply, and all of them were killed. Now, four districts are totally destroyed in Cizre. Some 10,000 houses are in a completely uninhabitable condition, including those buildings that did not come under shelling. Turkish troops entered those houses, marauded and did everything they could to make the buildings uninhabitable, on purpose,"  People’s Democratic Party (HDP) MP Dirayet Tasdemir.

The round-the-clock curfews, a total ban on residents leaving their houses, has been accompanied by the cutting of mobile phone signals, the blocking of roads, the prevention of anyone from entering or leaving the city, and reported cuts to water and electricity. Observers from outside have also been banned from entering the city.

According to residents interviewed by Amnesty International and by the Diyarbakır Bar Association, statements made by the authorities that food and medical services have been made available throughout curfews were found to be untrue.

The violence in Cizre peaked on 7 February 2016, when 190 civilians were killed by Turkish security forces, many burnt alive. By February many of the residents fled because of the heavy attacks by the army. Hundreds of people who remained in the town, in order to protect themselves, hid in the basements of several houses with their children. No one could leave these basements without the danger of being killed, so people waited inside for 20 days, often without any food or water. The government denied emergency ambulance access, even though news of the trapped people reached the media. Cumhuriyet, a daily newspaper, published a recording of a telephone conversation with the people in one of the basements. The Turkish special units on the 21st day attacked the houses with airstrikes then firebombed the basements, so that people burned to death. 190 people were burnt alive, some with signs of decapitation. Some of the dead were children as young as nine or 10 years old. The Turkish Government has tried to cover up this massacre, sending the human remains to different cities for autopsies. Many of the unrecognizably burneddecapitated corpses could not be identified.

Diyarbakır Bar Association published an extensive report about the events in Cizre in September 2015.

Here are some of the witness statements from the report:

Ramazan Çağirga (the father of Cemile Çağirga, 13 years old, shot by a sniper)

My daughter was shot in the courtyard of our house on the third day of the events. It was around 21:00 in the evening. I, her mother and my other children were at home. (…) We put my daughter body in a freezer to keep her body from decay when no one came. We kept her body in the freezer for two days. After two days, we took my daughter’s body to the morgue of mosque with the HDP MPs’ help. So far, any authorities has not contact with us. They have not taken any statement. (...) My daughter’s name is Cemile but we call her Cizir since she was little. Her real name is Cizir.

Tarık Irçi (Running a Corner Shop/ the father of Bünyamin Irçi, 14 years, shot by soldiers)

My son Bünyamin IRCI was 14 years old. He was going to the 8th grade. Our house is in Kale neighbourhood. (...) The weather is quite hot in here. My son Bünyamin and a few children were carrying ice blocks for people to other neighbourhoods because there was no electricity in their areas and the weather was hot. I woke up on Wednesday morning on 09th September 2015, I checked the internet especially the news related to Cizre. I learned from the internet that my son Bünyamin IRCI had lost his life. My son’s uncle stays in the neighbourhood where my son had been shot. We thought he was at his uncle’s house in that night. (...) After the curfew was lifted, we brought his body here and buried him. Prosecutor asked me about who killed my son. I said to the prosecutor: “You killed my son, your security officers killed my son”. As far as I know, he had been shot from his forehead, his temple, his heart and his hands although he surrendered and he lifted his hands.

Sadun Taşkin (41- Vegetable Vendor/ the father of Özgür Taşkin, 18 years old when killed)

My son Özgür Taşkın was 18 years old and he was going to 3rd grade in high school. Our house is at Yafes Neighbourhood, Sınır Street on the Silk Road which is close to the Syrian border. He went to his uncle’s house to drink water and watch the news on TV. (...)  He went there at 04.00 a.m. and after an hour at 05.00 a.m. he was shot on his way back home. They shot my son. (...) His right arm was completely shattered and ruptured. He was shot at from various parts of his body. There were military panzers and tanks in front of our house. Their backs were against to the Syrian border and their fronts were turned to the neighbourhood. (...) I have six daughters and Özgür was my only son and he was the eldest of my children. My wife gave birth to our youngest baby 20 days ago. My wife had heard that my son was 

shot. I was asleep and she had been crying out and she came and told me that Özgür had been shot. We immediately got up and ran to see him. He said “mom, dad, let me kiss you, give me your blessings” and he kissed us, then he died in my arms. The voices of gunfire was coming from all sides, we could not take our son to the hospital.

This is the way people in Cizre live and die. The Turkish media largely ignores these massacres, sometimes out of fear. There is no media freedom in Turkey, writing a report like the present one can easily get you in prison for years.

The survivors are not only traumatized, but also in extreme need. There are many ways you can help however, which can make a big difference:

You can send money (there is no minimum, even the smallest amount helps)  to Cizre Rojava Dernegi, an NGO based in Turkey (https://www.facebook.com/Cizre-Rojava-Dernegi-685757461567429/)

İş Bankası Ofis Diyarbakır Şubesi 
TL IBAN : TR96 0006 4000 0018 3030 8933 06
USD IBAN : TR03 0006 4000 0028 3030 2128 71 
EUR IBAN : TR13 0006 4000 0028 3030 2128 85

You can send raw materials. Current list of the most required items: oil, dried beans, rice, lentil, tomato sauce, baby food, and anything which could be used for breakfast (for example small boxes of jam, butter, tahini etc.). They also need nappies and female hygiene materials, mattress, shoes (all sizes). Clothes and shoes should be unused.

For the address contact the organization: cizredensurakoordinasyon'at'gmail.com; phone number: 0090-554-345-8424

My Kurdish Family project. You can ‘adopt’ a family from Cizre.

Many families have lost loved ones, lost their home, health, and are deeply traumatized. Beyond material help, they also need care and solidarity from and beyond Turkey. So if you are ready to make the commitment of being part of a family from Cizre for minimum 1 year, staying in regular contact with them (for example monthly letters, emails or phone calls), and a min. of 300TL (around 100 euros) of direct help to your chosen family, please get in touch. The list of families and their contact details are at the HDP (People’s Democratic Party) offices, you can request it and get more details at: vmelci'at'gmail.com


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