The Turkish Army has reportedly sent military vehicles, including tanks, into civilian areas in its predominantly-Kurdish southeast. Local activists have posted frightening photos on social media.
The People’s Democracy Party (HDP) published a series of photos of what is said to be a fresh raid by the Turkish Army. According to HDP, soldiers in the Yenisehir district of Silopi “broke into a building and pointed guns at people.”
— Faruk Encu (@FaruqEncu) 16 декабря 2015
Turkish tanks on the streets of Silopi, Kurdistan. They are attacking Kurdish civilians, not ISIS. pic.twitter.com/xGO1L7m9DW
— Dr Partizan (@DrPartizan_) December 17, 2015
Ferhat Encu, an MP for the People’s Democratic Party, was taken into custody in Silopi.
— curdistani (@curdistani) December 16, 2015
“The world and those justifying this cruelty know well, this isn’t an ‘anti-terror’ act. This is an ethnic cleansing and genocide operation,” the party tweeted.
— HDP English (@HDPenglish) December 17, 2015
— Hârun Ercan (@haarunercan) 16 декабря 2015
Ankara has been busy conducting military operations in the southeast since summer. Tensions have been mounting for months as security forces have been battling Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants after a ceasefire collapsed in July. The PKK has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkey for over three decades.
“We can say something has changed in the last couple of days,” Harun Ercan, a resident of the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir told RT.
“Before this, Turkish special forces were conducting these operations, right now the Turkish army is using heavy artillery and tanks in order to destroy the barricades built by the Kurds,” he added.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to continue the operation until the area is cleansed of Kurdish militants.
“You will be annihilated in those houses, those buildings, those ditches which you have dug,” he told a crowd in Konya, as cited by Reuters.
“Our security forces will continue this fight until [the area] has been completely cleansed and a peaceful atmosphere established,” he added.
— Mutlu Civiroglu (@mutludc) 17 декабря 2015
Nurcan Baysal, founder of the Diyarbakir Political and Social Research Institute, has described Davutoglu’s language as “very dangerous.”
“If the Turkish state wants peace with its Kurdish citizens, it should change its dangerous language into the language of peace,” Baysal told the Middle East Eye news outlet. “Unfortunately, the Turkish state has decided to wage war against the Kurdish people again.”
“People are without water, electricity, food, medical care, and many civilians have died – and state officials say that they will continue this.”
Figen Yuksekdag, the co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has publicly accused Davutoglu of “ordering a massacre” in Cizre and Silopi.
“Who are these operations against, Mr. Prime Minister?” Yuksekdag wondered at a press conference in Diyarbakir. “There are people living in these houses, Davutoglu,” she said.
— Cahida Dêrsim (@dilkocer) 16 декабря 2015
Thousands took to the streets of Diyarbakir in late November after Tahir Elci, a lawyer and campaigner for Kurdish rights, was shot dead in while giving a speech on November 28. This became the last straw.
Twenty-five Kurds have been killed in clashes with Turkish forces during last two days, according to Reuters. Twenty-four of them were killed in the city of Cizre, and one in Silopi, the Turkish military said in a statement, adding that eight Turkish servicemen were wounded in the clashes.
Around 5,000 people gathered for a march in Diyarbakir on Monday, according to AP, which was called by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). Local residents gathered to voice their concerns about round-the-clock curfews being implemented in the region.
According to the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, there have been a total of 52 curfews imposed since mid-August across seven provinces in the region, affecting areas where some 1.3 million people live.
Residents from the pro-Kurdish town of Silvan (some 80km north east of Diyarbakir) said they had been shelled by Turkish forces in mid-November, while the never-ending curfew had driven them to the brink of starvation.