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Amnesty: Turkish security measures risking thousands of Kurdish lives

Up to 200,000 Kurdish residents are at risk [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 21 January, 2016

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Turkey is effectively laying siege to some Kurdish towns with curfews and cuts to services, putting the lives of Kurds at risk, says Amnesty International.

Turkey's security campaign against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Kurdish towns in southeast Turkey is risking the lives of thousands of Kurds and amounts to collective punishment, said Amnesty International on Thursday.

The heavy-handed campaign that includes round-the-clock curfews and cuts to services, is putting the lives of up to 200,000 Kurdish residents at risk, according to research done by the London-based rights group.

Amnesty said residents from areas that are currently inaccessible to external observers reported several instances where security forces prevented ambulances from entering areas under curfew to provide treatment to the sick.

"Cuts to water and electricity supplies combined with the dangers of accessing food and medical care while under fire are having a devastating effect on residents, and the situation is likely to get worse, fast, if this isn't addressed," said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia Programme Director.

"In some areas, crippling curfews that don't allow people to leave their houses at all have been in place for more than a month, effectively laying siege to entire neighbourhoods."

One person told Amnesty that his relative, a resident of the town Silopi in Sirnak province was killed in his home during clashes. His family had to wait 12 days with the decomposing body in their home before it could be collected for burial, he said.

Crippling curfews that don't allow people to leave their houses at all have been in place for more than a month
- John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia Programme Director


Silopi has been under curfew since December 14 as the authorities wage a major military operation to crush the PKK in the Kurdish-dominated southeast of the country.

Amnesty also said that it had found evidence that several women, children and elderly people, who posed no threat to security forces, were killed by sniper fire in locations that had not witnessed clashes in the town of Cizre last September.

The rights group believes security forces are increasingly using heavy weaponry and snipers in residential areas, which are putting innocent residents at risk.

"The operations currently being conducted under round-the-clock curfews are putting the lives of tens of thousands of people at risk and are beginning to resemble collective punishment," said John Dalhuisen.

The PKK launched a formal insurgency against the Turkish state in 1984, initially fighting for Kurdish independence although now more for greater autonomy and rights for the country's largest ethnic minority.

The conflict, which has left tens of thousands dead, looked like it could be nearing a resolution until an uneasy truce was shattered in July, leading to a large scale government campaign against the rebels.

Human Rights Foundation of Turkey said last week that over 160 civilians had so far been killed in curfew-hit towns in the southeast.

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