The “Democracy and Resolution” announcement made at Newroz in Diyarbakır on 21 March 2013 signified the publizingof an ongoing process of dialoguethat had begun in 2012 with the aim of finding a lasting peace. The text of an accord, that was to pave the way for a more transparent negotiation, was shared with public opinion in the presence of government officials and the Imrali Delegation on 28 February 2015.
The President’s denial of the process, saying: “There is no such accord. There is no question of this government having an accord with a terror organisation,” brought the process to a halt. It had been the President himself who had said previously of the call forthe laying down of arms which was contained in the accord: “It is an appeal we have longed for”, and he who had maintained control of the process. The HDP achieved a vote of 13.1% at the 7 June 2015 elections after a campaign during which the party faced many obstacles, including a bomb attack on an election rally in Diyarbakır. The HDP thus exceeded the ten per cent electoral threshold and entered the Turkish Parliament, while the AKP was unable to gain enough MPs to form a government.
As anticipated, efforts to form a coalition would be unsuccessful,a bomb attack in Suruç on 20 July during a press conference held by members of the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations taking aid to children in Kobanê resulted in the death of 34 people. This was followed by the killing of two police officers in Ceylanpınar and the process of non-conflict ended.
On 16 August a curfew was declared in the districts of Varto in Muş province and Şemdinli in Hakkâri province. While it was announced that these curfews, the legal validity of which will be discussed below, would be short-term, continuing until mid-September, the curfew announced in Cizre on 4 September and which ended on 12 September, during which 22 people died, signalled that this process would be more prolonged. During these curfews, which witnessed clashes and led to damage, the people’s freedom of movement was restricted andthey were unable to obtain food and water. There were also fatalities amongst civilians during these curfews.
Although in all reports regarding the first curfew, the number of fatalities was given as 21, a review dated 20.10.2015 of the report prepared by the Türkiye İnsan Hakları Derneği – Human Rights Association of Turkey (İHD), TİHV (Türkiye İnsan Hakları Vakfı – Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, Diyarbakır Tabip Odası – Diyarbakır Chamber of Physicians (DTO) and Pratisyen Hekimler Derneği – Association of General Practitioners (PHD) on 15.09.2015 raised the figure to 22, including the death of Mülkiye Geçgel, who suffered a wound caused by firearms during the curfew.
As of October 2016 a total of 114 curfews had been declared, in 9 provinces and at least 35 districts. In Diyarbakır 63, Mardin 18, Şırnak 13, Hakkâri 11, Muş, Batman and Bingöl two and in Dersim one. Again, as of October 2016, since curfews began in August 2015 in Cizre, Silopi, İdil, Şırnak, Yüksekova, Nusaybin and Sur, a total of 863 people had died and the right to life and right to access health of at least 1 million 671 thousand people was adversely affected . As a result this groups fundamental rights where severly violated. Such rights included the right to freedom and security, travel, communication, environment, respect for private and family life, freedom of assembly; freedom of religion, freedom to access information, right to protection of property, right to education, prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, the right to life and physical integrity were severely violated.
During the curfews announced in December numerous crimes were committed, first and foremost mass killings and forced depopulation, as curfews began to last for months. It has been established that no precautions whatsoever were taken to protect fundamental rights and freedoms during these long lasting curfews.During this process,while absolutely no measures were taken to evacuate civilians from the conflict areas,groups of people attempting to leave urban areas carrying white flags were fired upon. Cizre was the place were the worst incidents occurred. During the curfew which was declared in Cizre on 14 December,and lasted for 79 days, as far as is known by public opinion, 31 peopled died in the first basement, 62 in the second basement and 50 in the third basement. It is known that a total of 177 bodies were carried from the area.
In reality, many people During the curfew in the entire Cizre area, including 41 children, one a baby, lost their lives. Due tobodies not being handed over to families and the difficulties in identifying bodies, on account of the damaged state of corpses and the failure to carry out effective and transparent investigations,the total of dead is estimated to be 280. Of these only 262 have been identified. 18 corpses remain in common graves. There is still delay in the process of matching DNA samples given by families with human remains.
The aim of this study is to ascertain what took place in Cizre by listing the incidents in chronological order, including meetings that were held, data in investigation files and other legal applications and observations. Additionally, to unearth possibleviolations of human rights and the rules of war ensuring readers gain an insight into what took place in Cizre.
Within this framework the events may be divided into three sections. The first section covers the declaration of the curfew in Cizre and the period until public opinion learned that people were besieged in basements. The second section deals with the basements and the third with the period between the end of the operations being declared by the government and the end of the curfew. Within this framework, initially the legality of the curfews will be discussed, following that an evaluation will be made of the Cizre process, which cannot solely be defined as a curfew on account of all that happened there, along the above mentioned lines.
1.A LEGAL EVALUATION OF THE CURFEWS
1.1.From the domestic legal viewpoint
The declaration of curfews was based on paragraph (c) of article 11 of law no. 5442 on Provincial Administration. This article, under the heading: “The legal position of governors, their duties and powers” states the governor is in charge of security forces within provincial boundaries and lists his duties and powers. In paragraph (c) the governor’s duties and obligations are listed. According to this, “within the provincial boundaries, the ensuring of public calm, welfare and security and the inviolability of the person, and the authority to take preventive security measures are amongst the duties and obligations of the governor”. In the same article, the necessary preventive measures which the governor will take are given legal power and reference is made to article 66 of the same law for those who do not comply with the decisions and measures taken by the governor. Read all in PDF