DBP Cizre co-president Mehmet Tunç, killed in a basement in Cizre
10 February 2016
by Nurcan Baysal
The piece published below is an open letter to the European Parliament and has been sent to every EU MP and organ.
There are many wounded people who have taken refuge in basements in Cizre for almost a month. There was a man who informed us, the whole world, in fact you, the European Parliament as well, about what is happening in Cizre; that man was Cizre People’s Assembly co-president Mehmet Tunç.
Even though news of Mehmet Tunç’s death is being shared on social media for two days I didn’t want to believe it. For the past two days, telephone in hand, speaking to people from places spanning from Cizre to Brussels, I have been trying to find out what happened to him. I didn’t want to believe that this brave man had died.
This evening I got the news that Mehmet Tunç has lost his life. I had spoken with Mehmet two weeks ago, when I was in Brussels to moderate a seminar as part of the 12th “European Union, Turkey, Middle East and Kurds” conference. Mehmet Tunç had made a call to the European Parliament from the basement they had taken refuge in:
“The situation is not like how it is portrayed in the media. There is a massacre in Cizre; we are faced with genocide. All the houses have been bombed, tanks are being used. Weapons that are used against enemies are being used against its own people by the AKP government and Turkish state. There is a tragedy in Cizre. For 60 days now the people are without bread and water. Only 10 thousand from a population of 120 thousand have remained. The state has forcefully displaced the people. Similar policies were implemented in the 1990s. 4 thousand villages were razed to the ground and the people were moved to places like Cizre. They depopulated the villages to finish off the PKK. Now they are depopulating cities and saying it is to finish off the PKK.
This is certainly a tragedy in Cizre. 28 people were injured in a house in Cizre. 5 of the wounded died of blood loss. There is no water left. We leave the building to get water and are shot by snipers. We cannot exit. The four storeyed building has been completely destroyed with mortar attacks. I am inside that building now. The situation is critical. That’s why I am calling on our friends there. Please stop this savagery. You are strong enough to stop this massacre in Cizre. You are strong enough to warn the AKP government and lift the siege on Cizre. Failing that you will also become accomplices to the massacre here.”
And you, the European Parliament, are now accomplices to this massacre!
Mehmet Tunç, the man who appealed to you, has also been massacred. Maybe he was massacred because he was broadcasting to you, to the whole world, the truth about what is happening in the besieged neighbourhood of Cizre. I don’t know if you will be ashamed, but I am, ashamed that I couldn’t stop his impending death.
“This maybe the last time we speak but we are going to die proud and honourable”
A few days ago Mehmet Tunç spoke to a TV station from the basement of a second building in Cizre, where many injured people had been trapped. “These maybe my last words to you,” he said and continued:
“We are face-to-face with a second Madımak Hotel massacre. This is the shame of humanity. The wounds of the massacre in 1993 haven’t healed yet and here 30-40 people are burning to death. Smoke has filled the building and flames are starting to enter. Before ambulances fire brigades urgently need to come here and extinguish the fire. There are people who have lost their limbs; there are children, heavily wounded people. They are all going to burn alive. I have no doubt that this is going to be a shame hanging over all of Turkey, all of humanity and the United Nations. At the moment there are at least 37 people here…
At the moment we are awaiting death. When this building collapses humanity is going to be left under rubble. They will not be able to account for this…
I am addressing the Kurdish people now. This is a struggle… You must all keep your morale high. Just because people are going to die in this basement it doesn’t mean that the struggle for freedom is over, that it has ended. But we have been screaming, shouting, appealing to the people for 60 days. The people of Cizre turned their bodies into shields against tanks, mortar, flamethrowers, and rocket launchers. Have no doubt [about this resistance]; I am sending greetings to all friends continuing the struggle. Despite the cold, the hunger and thirst, the people of Cizre did not kneel down. This is why the people left behind need to be proud of us.
I know they (state forces) are getting near. There is a danger that they will execute us slowly. They came yesterday and threatened us saying, ‘Surrender or we will burn all of you alive. We are going to suffocate all of you.’ I don’t know the intention of the AKP government, the governorate or the Interior Ministry. But there is savagery in Cizre at the moment. There is massacre. But we will not kneel down…”
Mehmet Tunç never accepted the tyranny against his people, not even in his last breath; he stayed in that basement to help the wounded and was massacred doing it. The people in the basement knew that calls to “surrender” meant massacre. This is why they didn’t leave the basement. On 6 February in Cizre, 16-year-old Abdullah Gün trusted the call to surrender and was shot by Special Forces teams as left the basement he and others were in. It was exactly for this reason that Mehmet Tunç appealed to you. With your support the wounded in Cizre could have exited those basements in an honourable and safe way.
Mehmet Tunç was a civilian. Though there are armed young people in the basements in Cizre, there are also many civilians, even children. Regardless of who is in these basements, even if they are armed from head to toe, a state cannot burn them alive. This is a war crime; this is a crime against humanity!
The corpses of the 27 people burnt to death in the basement in Cizre are, as I write these lines, being taken to the morgue. There has been no news for 10 days from the wounded trapped in another basement.
We are ashamed of you too European Parliament!
You watched the death of a man, a politician, and a civilian, who appealed to you, who asked you for help. You only watched and did nothing when wounded people in Cizre were burned alive. And still you only watch the tyranny, the savagery that is being committed against the Kurdish people.
YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED! ASHAMED of the principles you so often talk of but only implement when it suits you!
This shame will remain as a stain on the sophisticated human rights’ civilisation that you are so proud of!
Your people are proud of you Mehmet Tunç!
This piece was originally published in Turkish on T24 and has been translated into English by Kurdish Question.