[The following statement was issued by Women`s Freedom Assembly (KÖM) on 18 January 2016 as a call for international women`s solidarity in regards to the ongoing war in the Kurdish region and growing repression of dissent in Turkey.]
To Women’s Organizations: Urgent Call for Action
Women’s Freedom Assembly (KÖM) is calling on your solidarity against the war and massacres that we have been living through for the past eight months. The AKP government and President Tayyip Erdoğan are repressing, through violence, all opposition forces who have been resisting the authoritarian regime that they have been trying to establish in Turkey and destroying all channels of political struggle. They have brought the Parliament to disfunction and suspended the rule of law by taking the judiciary system under their control.
The massacres started with the detonation of a bomb at the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s Diyarbakır rally in June 2015 and continued with the Suruç massacre on July 20th and the Ankara Peace Rally massacre on October 10th. ISIS, AKP’s support to which in the ongoing Syrian civil war has been widely reported in the international press, was declared responsible. As President Tayyip Erdoğan confessed in his declaration, which was also picked up by the international press, the goal was an authoritarian regime similar to the one in Hitler’s Germany. It seems that this is the reason why a massacre policy targeting the Kurdish people, the most organized and traditionally resistant section of the society, has been put into effect.
The democratic negotiation process which was started in 2013 for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish problem was ended by Tayyip Erdoğan’s own directive. Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdish people and accepted chief negotiator during the talks between 2013-2015, has been in isolation since April 2015. The fact that he is not allowed to meet with his lawyer or family shows how the most basic human rights have been suspended.
To inhibit self-governance which was declared in various districts of Kurdistan following the decision of the AKP government and President Tayyip Erdoğan to wage war, the people in these districts and neighborhoods, fearful of the massacres that did and would still take place, have been forced to migrate en masse. Women who resist this massacre by not deserting their homes, neighborhoods and districts, thus claiming their place in the struggle for freedom, have become primary targets. The incident where PKK guerilla Ekin Wan’s naked corpse was dragged through the streets was followed by the arrests of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and Democratic Regions Party (DBP) administrators and sexual violence practices. Most recently, three Kurdish female politicians, Seve Demir, Pakize Nayır and Fatma Uyar, were executed by the state forces.
The military operations against PKK started in July 2015 and were followed by curfews, district blockades and bombardments aimed at forcing the Kurdish people to surrender. According to the data gathered by human rights organizations, bar associations and medical boards, 180 people, 32 of whom were women, lost their lives in this process. All of those who died were local people living in the districts and neighborhoods where a curfew was in effect. Humanity’s cultural heritage of thousands of years, faith centers, all living things, nature and earth are all taking their share from the war crimes of the State.
Through curfews and blockades lasting for days, Kurdish people are being forced to choose between hunger, thirst, death and surrender. The women, children and elderly who go out on the streets holding white flags to find baby food and milk for the babies are being targeted by police snipers. People are being killed in houses under heavy bombardment and babies have become targets for bullets. In this war started by the religious conservative AKP government and Tayyip Erdoğan, an old woman performing ablution in her garden so that she can fulfil her religious obligations and an old man praying in a mosque can be the targets for the same snipers.
The bodies of tens of people, such as the body of Taybet İnan, a 57-year old mother of eleven children, remain on the streets for days due to the indiscriminate firing at everyone on the streets. A recent directive now makes it possible for government representatives to bury the bodies without handing them over to the families.
Sur, Silopi and Cizre have been subject to renewed curfews since July. The most recent curfew was declared on December 14 and is ongoing. Those who try to aid the wounded, including health care personnel, are being killed while people are fighting hunger, dehydration, disease and death.
We are calling on you from a geography where people are struggling to exist and survive by trying to protect themselves and their children from the heavy bombardment of their homes, with no food, water, electricity, schools or hospitals. In the west part of the country, every voice that is raised in protest of the war in Kurdistan is suppressed through violence. Journalists, academics and all forms of public opposition silenced through open threats and judiciary that lost its independence. Last week, “Academics for Peace” published a declaration called “We will not be a party to this crime” condemning the curfews, military operations and violation of human rights in the region signed by more than 2000 academics. Signatories of the declaration have been described by President Tayyip Erdoğan as “traitors and dark forces”, identified as targets to be punished and the next day tens of academics have been arrested and became subject to investigation. Freedom of expression and press, freedom of assembly, independence of judiciary are all now almost non-existent.
The AKP government and Tayyip Erdoğan who have repeatedly stated that they did not recognize gender equality are trying to suppress the women’s struggle against war and male dominance. The atrocity of war is turning all women involved in opposition politics into direct targets of the State, while weakening the women’s struggle, our struggle, against male dominance.
As a result of the appeals to the European Court of Human Rights, The Republic of Turkey has been asked to submit its defense by January 8, 2016 on the issue of proportionality of force and whether necessary measures for the protection of basic human rights and civil life have been taken.
We are hoping that you would undertake the effort to put pressure on the Republic of Turkey to end the curfews and blockades, cease the bombardments and armed operations in the districts under blockade and restart the democratic negotiation process. We think that there is something that each one of us can do in our homes, work places and in the institutions and associations we volunteer for. As you will see from the attached fact sheet, currently, there are serious human rights violations, as well as a war in Turkey and crimes against humanity are being committed.
Civil disobedience and social media actions in your country, targeting the embassies and consulates of the Republic of Turkey will empower us in our struggle against the ongoing war.
You can protest the Turkish state representatives and consulates through fax messages, letters and peace watches to stop the inhumane practices, to immediately end curfews in the form of sieges and blockades that last for days and to urgently declare a ceasefire.
You can call on your own elected members of parliament to end this atrocity in Turkey, stop the arms sales to and condemn the war crimes of the Republic of Turkey in international public opinion.
Dear health care providers, lawyers, human rights volunteers and politicians; with international delegations, you can visit the cities under blockade to provide your contribution to justice by preventing, documenting and witnessing profound human rights violations.
Please join us in following up the calls on and appeals to the European Court of Human Rights and other international institutes of justice and support us in our search for justice. Let’s build an international bridge to peace with your solidarity and support. It is our heartfelt conviction that we will dispel this darkness and construct peace through solidarity and struggle.
We know that women’s solidarity transcends borders and deeply believe in the importance of international solidarity in the struggle against war and male dominance.
The so-called curfews, which are in fact blockades, are currently in effect in the districts of Cizre, Silopi and Sur. To this date, 56 curfews have been declared for a total of 305 days in seven cities, affecting tens of neighborhoods in 20 districts. It is reported that the blockades are still in effect in those districts where the bans have been officially lifted. The current situation in these three districts are as follows:
A total of five curfews have been declared in CİZRE. The last curfew was declared on 14.12.2015. During the past 35 days of the ongoing blockade 55 people lost their lives. A total of 87 people lost their lives in Cizre since July 2015.
A total of two curfews have been declared in SİLOPİ. The last curfew was declared on 14.12.15. During the past 35 days of the ongoing blockade 27 people lost their lives. A total of 41 people lost their lives in Silopi since July 2015.
A total of six curfews have been declared in SUR. The last curfew was declared on 02.12.2015. During the past 47 days of the ongoing blockade 16 people lost their lives. A total of 21 people lost their lives in Sur since July 2015.
To this date, 180 citizens, 32 of whom were women, lost their lives under blockades.
During the past month following the blockades 98 civilians lost their lives in Cizre, Silopi and Sur where the blockades are still in effect.
The wounded, whose rights to medical care were obstructed, lost their lives because medical intervention could not be performed on time.
Access to basic necessities of life was obstructed through electricity and water cut-offs.
The right to communication was obstructed when the GSM operators cut-off access to service.
Children’s rights to education were obstructed.
The historic mosques, churches and settlements were destroyed by air bombardments in the Sur neighborhood, a world heritage site.
People were forced to migrate and have been displaced.
All leaves for medical doctors were suspended; all logistics personnel were put on alert.
Student dormitories were evacuated and used by security personnel instead of the students.
The teachers were hastily evacuated from the areas where curfews were or would be declared.
The entries to and exits from these districts are being obstructed by the military and police.
Military equipment and military/police personnel dispatches to the region is at a maximum level and continuous.
These basic human rights violations have been confirmed by various human rights organizations, medical boards, local sources and the free press.
Contact: kadinozgurlukmeclisi [at] gmail [dot] com