A week on from the start of a Turkish military siege on the city of Cizre, the co-leader of Turkey’s progressive pro-peace party (the Peoples’ Democratic Party or HDP) has insisted today that at least 20 of those killed by state forces were civilians (including children). Turkey’s Interior Ministry, however, has tried to argue that most of the dead were PKK militants.
In response to the aforementioned government claim, HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş spoke out on Friday from the town of Idil, saying: “I will resign if [the government] prove the civilians killed in Cizre are PKK militants“. He also read out “the names of all the victims”, according to Turkish daily newspaper Cumhuriyet. [For more, see here] HDP deputy Faysal Sarıyıldız asked, meanwhile, “is the 35-day-old baby not a civilian?”
Amid claims that police in Kurdish communities had taunted inhabitants by calling them ‘Armenians’ (invoking the Turkish genocide of Christians in the early 20th century), meanwhile, Istanbul HDP MP Garo Paylan was quoted on Twitter as saying “You(Police) can think all you want that you’re insulting the people of
#Cizre when you call them “Armenians”… [but] when you hit a #Kurd, I am Kurdish; when you touch an #Armenian, the people of #Cizre are #Armenians“.
Along with such comments, Demirtaş insisted, the State’s aggressive, ethnically-motivated policies were essentially “forcing people to join the PKK”. He continued, saying, “they [politicians in Ankara] think something will change when they deploy the police and soldiers” but “even the PKK cannot in 30 years conduct as much propaganda as special operation forces did in nine days in Cizre” with both their actions and words.
Later, a Turkish official claimed that the “round-the-clock curfew in Cizre would be lifted on Saturday morning”. Sirnak regional governor Ali Ihsan Su said the operation had been “successful”, and he “thanked local residents for their “patience””. At the same time, though, Demirtaş insisted “if this war were to last another 100 years, the PKK would still be there and the Turkish army would still be there“. [For more, see here]