All eyes on the ECHR verdict for Cizre

Lawyer Newroz Uysal spoke about the Cizre basements case to be heard at the European Court of Human Rights on November 13 and said the verdict will affect similar ongoing cases: “A verdict in our favor at the end of this process will increase the will to fight back for both lawyers and families.”

The case about the persons burned to death by the Turkish state in basements during the self governance resistances in Cizre in 2015 and 2016 is to be heard in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on November 13.

The ECHR will hear the case of Omer Elci, resident of the Nur neighborhood in Cizre, and Orhan Tunc, who lost his life because ambulances weren’t allowed to pass despite a court order.

The verdict will act as precedent for other appeals regarding rights violations during the curfews. It is also important in terms of whether curfews were in line with the European Convention on Human Rights and what the ECHR’s views are on the matter.


Lawyer Uysal said the following on how the Cizre basements case is distinct from other losses during the curfews:

“In 2015-2016, several curfews were declared in various cities and provinces. They had similar excuses, they were declared in a similar fashion, and they were put into practice and the operations were carried out in similar ways. There were practices that damaged fundamental human rights and human dignity. But the violations of the right to life in the Cizre district were at a maximum level of atrocity. Hundreds of people trapped in 3 addresses were killed en masse, which gives a summary of what happened.”


Lawyer Uysal said the first appeals for stay of execution to the Constitutional Court and the ECHR were submitted while the curfews were still in place: “There were 5 court orders issued regarding ambulance access for wounded persons, ‘safe evacuation’ for trapped persons and protection of the right to life. Unfortunately, none of them were put to practice except for the one for Helin Oncu, and the appliants all lost their lives.”


Lawyer Uysal pointed to the criminal investigations launched in the Cizre Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office and said: “We submitted our demands regarding the general state of Cizre, the legal standing during the political process that led to the curfews (the domestic security package, for instance), the necessity to consider the events categorically international crimes against humanity, investigations of all deaths according to international legal standartds in an effective way, the appointment of independent investigators and other such demands. We have received 74 dismissals in the cases we follow. They are attempting to end the processes and close the cases without effective investigations, through alleging that the victims who lost their lives were suspects. All our appeals against this were rejected by the Criminal Courts of Peace. At this point, our appeals are in the Constitutional Court. 31 cases are cases that had Constitutional Court and ECHR appeals during the curfews.”


Lawyer Newroz Uysal said the reasons for the lack of results from the appeals are as follows:

  • The state is trying to hide the truth.
  • It is foreseen that they will have to be accountable in front of an international institution.
  • Evidence was collected illegally during the curfew by state forces or evidence was not collected at all.
  • The ignoring of the political side of the events. For instance, the ignoring of the “Collapse Plan” decided on in the National Security Council meeting in 2014.
  • The events carried out by the state or allowed to pass by the state’s silence are characterized as “regular/ordinary” operations.
  • Prosecutors refrain from taking action.
  • The perpetrators have legal covers (The exemption awarded to state forces in October 2016).

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