Turkey leaves dead Kurds to rot in the streets

There has been constant massacre and ethnic cleansing of the Kurdish population in southeastern Turkey, which should actually be called Kurdistan.

TURKISH RIOT police use water cannon as Kurdish demonstrators throw fireworks during a protest in central Istanbul, July, 2015. (photo credit: REUTERS)
TURKISH RIOT police use water cannon as Kurdish demonstrators throw fireworks during a protest in central Istanbul, July, 2015.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
During the Turkish general election of June 7, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) got 13.1 percent of the votes and prevented President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AKP government from reaching a supermajority, with which Erdogan could have changed the constitution and assumed dictatorial powers. Then in August, democratically- elected Kurdish mayors and politicians in some Kurdish towns in Turkey’s Kurdistan region demanded their right to self-rule, which they call “democratic autonomy.”
Since then, there has been constant massacre and ethnic cleansing of the Kurdish population in southeastern Turkey, which should actually be called Kurdistan.
Several Kurdish districts under curfew have been devastated by bombs, tank and artillery fire. At least 10,000 Turkish soldiers and special operations police have reportedly been deployed in Kurdish neighborhoods.
The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV) reported that between August 16, 2015, and January 8, 2016, there were 58 open-ended and round-the-clock curfews in at least 19 Kurdish districts where approximately 1,377,000 people reside, according to the 2014 population census. During these curfews, 162 civilians lost their lives.
Thirty-two of them were children, 29 were women and 24 were over the age of 60.
The military assaults against Kurdish districts have reportedly forced at least 200,000 Kurds to flee their homes, according to the Migrants’ Association for Social Cooperation and Culture (Goc-Der).
Beside the civilian deaths, houses are bombed indiscriminately. Those who try to take the wounded to hospitals are shot by Turkish snipers. Hospitals and schools are used as military quarters.
The state’ forces target particularly water reservoirs and power transformers in order to cut the lifelines of the Kurdish homeland.
Local people struggle with a lack of water and with starvation.
Today, the curfews and military assaults against Kurds are going on in the Kurdish districts of Sur in Diyarbakir and Cizre in Sirnak.
Entire neighborhoods have been damaged or destroyed by artillery. Many houses no longer have access to water or electricity.
And the death toll is rising every day.
The Turkish government, however, claims that the military operations aim at removing the barricades and trenches set up by Kurdish youths. But this does not seem to be true. For all civilian populations – including children and the elderly – in those districts are being targeted and murdered by Turkish security forces. And even the dead are not allowed to rest in peace.
Bodies are left lying on streets, lying where they bled to death, and rotting there because ambulances are not allowed to access areas under curfew.
On January 14, for instance, special operations police allegedly shot Huseyin Paksoy, 16, in the foot in the town of Cizre. His brother Mesut Paksoy called an ambulance as soon as he heard what had happened, but police did not allow health ministry ambulances to enter the neighborhood where Paksoy was lying wounded. On January 16, the Cizre Municipality ambulance attempted to enter the neighborhood, but could not because of the military operations.
Faysal Sariyildiz, an MP of the pro-Kurdish HDP, frantically tried to contact Turkish authorities and demanded they send an ambulance for the child. The hashtag “AmbulanceforHuseyin” was widely shared on social media.
Then the lawyer Nuray Ozdogan lodged an application with the European Court of Human Rights. The ECHR ruled in favor of interim measures regarding the Turkish government’s responsibility for Paksoy’s right to life and right to physical integrity. But none of those efforts changed the minds of Turkish authorities.
Paksoy waited for an ambulance for four days. At last, on January 18, a municipal ambulance was able to enter the neighborhood – but only to retrieve Paskoy’s body from the street and take it to the local morgue. The child had bled to death. The news of the death came right after the ECHR announced its ruling.
His brother Mesut said that their house in Cizre was largely ruined by mortar fire, and they have become refugees in their own hometown.
The newspaper Ozgur Gundem reported another event in which a dead Kurd was left in the street. Mehmet Tangut, 32, a mentally retarded Kurdish man in Cizre, was shot to death by Turkish special operations police on January 10. His family was not allowed to retrieve his body from the street for two days.
When they were finally allowed to do so, it was discovered that his face had been eaten away by stray dogs while he rotted in the street for two days and nights. His mouth, nose and ears were gnawed and his body was full of dog hairs or cat fur.
This is the life of Kurds under Turkish rule.
Turkish authorities often say that Kurds are equal citizens and that they can become anything they want to be. However, the truth is even dead Kurds are tortured if they demanded human or national rights while they were alive. Actually, Turkey does not seem to regard Kurds who vote for pro-Kurdish political parties or demand political equality as its citizens.
Turkish authorities also say that “the southeast” or “eastern Anatolian” regions inside Turkey’s boundaries are equal, inseparable parts of Turkey, and that they will never be Kurdistan. Just pronouncing the word “Kurdistan” or using it in the title of an association is banned in Turkey.
So if you ask Turkish officials, they will most probably deny the existence of Kurdistan within Turkey. But actually, they do know where Kurdistan is. And they are acting like an occupying force there – an extremely brutal and hateful one. If they truly considered Kurdistan a part of Turkey, they would not be destroying it.
The reality is Turkey is blatantly arresting or murdering Kurdish civilians – for being Kurdish, exercising free speech and demanding equal national rights.
Next time you hear about Western leaders supporting Turkish President Erdogan’s fight against the “Kurdish terrorists” in Turkey, remember Huseyin Paksoy, Mehmet Tangut and all other dead Kurds whom the Turkish armed forces left to rot in the streets.
Remember these inhuman events caused by the Turkish government next time you hear the prime minister of England, David Cameron, supporting the efforts of Ahmet Davutoglu, prime minister of Turkey, and apologizing to Turkey because the Kurds in London were protesting the barbaric actions of Turkey against the Kurds.
The author is a Turkish journalist based in Ankara.