Posted on March 11, 2017 by Editorial Staff in Kurdistan
  Turkey slams ‘biased’ UN report alleging Kurd abuses Kurds-in-Cizre-city-in-Turkish-Kurdistan-April-2016-afp
Kurds in devastated Cizre city in Turkish Kurdistan, April 2016. Photo: AFP

GENEVA,— Turkey condemned on Friday a UN report as “biased” after it accused Turkish security forces of committing serious abuses during operations against Kurdish militants in the nation’s southeast after a ceasefire collapsed in July 2015.
The report from the United Nations’ rights office details evidence of “massive destruction, killings and numerous other serious human rights violations committed between July 2015 and December 2016 in southeast Turkey”.
“Government security operations” have targeted more than 30 towns and displaced 355,000 to half a million people, mostly Kurds, the report said.

However, the Turkish foreign ministry fired back, saying: “The ‘report’ about anti-terror operations in the southeast is biased, based on false information and far from professional.”
“The space in the report given to a terror organisation’s propaganda overlapping with unfounded allegations is not accepted by our side,” the ministry added, referring to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
According to statistics given by Ankara to the UN, the unrest in the southeast has claimed some 2,000 lives over the last year and half.
That figure includes about 800 soldiers and 1,200 “local residents”, the report said, but there was no available breakdown for the number of Kurdish militants and civilians killed.
Since July 2015, Turkey initiated a controversial military campaign against the PKK in the Kurdish region after Ankara ended a two-year ceasefire agreement. Since the beginning of the campaign, Ankara has imposed several round-the-clock curfews, preventing civilians from fleeing regions where the military operations are being conducted.
Activists have accused the Turkish security forces of causing huge destruction to urban centres and killing Kurdish civilians.

Observers said the crackdown has taken a heavy toll on the Kurdish civilian population and accuse Turkey of using collective punishment against the minority. Activists have accused the security forces of causing huge destruction to urban centres and killing Kurdish civilians.
Independent journalists have been harassed and Kurdish-language media outlets have been closed, making it even more difficult to publicise abuses committed during clashes.
Satellite images of areas affected by the latest unrest “indicate an enormous scale of destruction of the housing stock by heavy weaponry”, the report said, with some neighbourhoods “razed to the ground”.
The PKK took up arms in 1984 against the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to push for greater autonomy for the Kurdish minority who make up around 22.5 million of the country’s 79-million population.
A large Kurdish community in Turkey and worldwide openly sympathise with PKK rebels and Abdullah Ocalan, who founded the PKK group in 1974, and has a high symbolic value for most Kurds in Turkey and worldwide according to observers.
Three pieces of flesh
In Cizre, a mainly Kurdish town on the Syrian border, residents described the devastation of neighbourhoods as “apocalyptic”, the UN said.
In early 2016, nearly 200 of the town’s residents, including children, “were trapped for weeks in basements without water, food, medical attention and power before being killed by fire, induced by shelling,” it said.
One man told the UN that his family was summoned by authorities in Cizre to collect his sister’s remains but were given just “three small charred pieces of flesh”.
The public prosecutor in Cizre said the woman had been identified through a DNA match.
The UN allegations come at a delicate time for Ankara, which is gearing up for an April referendum on whether to expand President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers.
UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein criticised Erdogan’s government directly, saying he was concerned that “no credible investigation has been conducted into hundreds of alleged unlawful killings.”
The UN rights office said it had for more than a year been seeking access to areas affected by the anti-PKK operations, but Erdogan’s government had not approved a visit.
Zeid also denounced Ankara for challenging the “veracity” of the report’s findings while refusing to give his investigators access.