Amnesty Calls on Turkey to Facilitate Return of Displaced Kurds to Homes

Amnesty Calls on Turkey to Facilitate Return of Displaced Kurds to Homes
Tue Dec 6, 2016 10:40:40

Amnesty International has called on the Turkish government to facilitate the return of tens of thousands of displaced families to the predominantly-Kurdish, southeastern city of Diyarbakir, where a curfew has been imposed and military operations are ongoing against Kurdish militants.

Andrew Gardner, Amnesty’s Turkey researcher, urged Turkish authorities on Monday to “lift the curfew without delay” and adopt measures intended to guarantee the displaced people’s return to their homes.

Protesters stand next to a fire during clashes between Turkish forces and Kurdish militants in central Diyarbakir, as they protest against a curfew in the Sur district of the city, March 2, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

“People were forced to leave their homes with a short notice,” Gardner said, adding, “They need to be compensated for the loss of their possessions but also for the loss of their livelihoods because when they lost their homes, they also lost their jobs in a great number of cases.”

He said, “There isn’t any concrete, detailed or credible plan for how these families are going to be able to return to their homes.”

Gardner further criticized the state of emergency in Diyarbakir, demanding authorities to differentiate between unlawful violence and threats to the state on the one side and peaceful dissent on the other. He did not elaborate.

Turkish police officers fire in the air to disperse people near the site of an explosion in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir, November 4, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Turkish officials placed the Sur district of Diyarbakir, situated 676 kilometers east of the capital, Ankara, under curfew in December 2015. The restrictions were expanded to a total of 15 neighborhoods a month later. The measure is still in effect in six neighborhoods of Diyarbakir as authorities are seeking to clear the areas of Kurdish militants with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or the PKK.

Gardner, the Amnesty researcher, further said that nearly the entire 24,000 residents of the six neighborhoods of Sur had left their homes in the aftermath of the curfew, and their right to return appeared to be “in grave danger” due to damaged infrastructure and demolitions.

He said half a million people had been displaced by clashes between PKK members and Turkish military forces across southeastern Turkey.

A shaky ceasefire between the PKK, which has been calling for an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984, and the Turkish government collapsed in July 2015. Attacks have been carried out against Turkish security forces since then.

Over the past few months, Turkish ground and air forces have been carrying out operations against PKK positions in the country’s troubled southeastern border region as well as in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region and in northern Syria.

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