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English (United Kingdom)

Cizre and Manavgat

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“Can Turkey become another Syria?” a friend asked yesterday in a matter-of-fact voice. I said, “Have you seen the pictures of Cizre?”

There was a curfew in place for more than a week in Cizre, a district of Şırnak province in southeastern Turkey, and we've seen pictures from there after the lifting of the curfew. Demolished houses, bullet holes in the walls, broken showcase windows, collapsed roofs because of mortar shells and the punctured water system of the city can easily be seen in the photographs.

If the news agencies do not mention their source as Cizre, one could easily imagine them coming from Aleppo, Homs or Damascus. As of today, Turkey -- or at least Cizre -- is in the position of Syria. There was no contact with the city for eight days because the mobile phone network was not working and it was impossible to connect with cable phones. Since ambulances and hospitals were not working, those who needed medical help were not able to receive it and several people lost their lives just because of this. Bodies were not buried because of the curfew, and it was very dangerous to walk on the streets. We are talking about a population of more than 150,000 people, including old people who are hypertension patients, babies who need care and children who have other needs, and they were not able to set foot outside for eight days. It was also a violation of rights that Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, several HDP deputies and two elected ministers could not go to Cizre for days because the appointed interior minister did not permit it. Only in Turkey can two ministers be unable to visit a city because one minister didn't allow it.

According to Demirtaş, 23 civilians were shot to death during the curfew and 27 others were seriously wounded. The Interior Ministry announced that 15 police officers were wounded in Cizre and that 25 Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) members were shot and killed. Hundreds of empty cartridges scattered on the streets can still be seen in Cizre.

“Nearly 150 attacks have been carried out by rioters, directly targeting HDP party offices across Turkey, in the past week alone. Vandalism and attacks on Kurdish individuals by ‘senseless' crowds acting out of anger put more tension on the already strained relationship between Turks and Kurds,” reads Today's Zaman.

 

Manavgat, a district of tourism province Antalya, famous for its waterfalls, was the last victim of this insanity. Turkish ultranationalist groups gathered with their cars and motorbikes and attacked businesses such as boutiques and cafés that were not flying the Turkish flag, alleged to belong to Kurds who had moved from the East and the Southeast. At least 14 stores were torched and dozens of store windows broken. It can clearly be seen from photos that it was an attempted pogrom. According to the governor of Antalya, 35 people are in custody.

To use a cliched expression, “Kurdish-Turkish brotherhood” is now being destroyed by the group in charge, even though no one wants a war. I remember President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2011: “You can go to places with tanks and shells, but you will be the one to go before long. The [presidential] chair is temporary.” Can our president remember what he said previously?

 

 

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