Amnesty on Cizre: Basic needs must be met; observers must be allowed access

Amnesty International today issued a statement on events in Cizre, where Turkish authorities have instituted a round-the-clock curfew for more than a week.  Since September 4, Cizre’s more than 100,000 residents have been forbidden from leaving their homes.

BBC: The body of Meryem Sune, 53, could not be buried for two days

BBC: The body of Meryem Sune, 53, could not be buried for two days

The curfew, a total ban on residents leaving their houses, has been accompanied by the cutting of mobile phone signals, the blocking of roads, preventing anyone from entering or leaving the city, and reported cuts to water and electricity. Outside observers have been banned from entering the city.

Multiple sources report civilian deaths:

A resident in the city told Amnesty International that heavy clashes between the YDG-H and security forces had taken place day and night during the duration of the curfew, involving heavy weapons including police use of mortars and heavy machine guns. The resident told Amnesty International that ambulances have not been able to access wounded people in the areas where clashes are taking place and that in other instances police officers have denied wounded people access to medical care.

BBC News: The road to Cizre was blocked by Turkish security forces

BBC News: The road to Cizre was blocked by Turkish security forces

While Amnesty is not able to confirm any of the reports at this time, they fall in line with previous conflict in Cizre which Amnesty has been able to effectively research.  In that violence, Amnesty notes, it “received consistent and credible accounts of reckless use of weapons by both the police and YDG-H resulting in deaths and injuries of residents uninvolved in armed violence.”

Amnesty recognizes that the state has the right to restrict movement in order to restore public order, it underlines that such restrictions must be proportionate.  Turkish authorities have stepped far beyond such proportionate responses:

[An] indefinite, round-the-clock curfew is a disproportionate restriction, as is blocking all access to the city. Other security measures also must meet the necessity and proportionality test to be lawful. Cutting electricity, water and communications to the entire population of Cizre are disproportionate measures.

What Turkish authorities must do

Amnesty has called on authorities to:

  1. Ensure that “residents have sufficient time each day to leave their homes and get food and other supplies.”
  2. Ensure that residents “have access to urgent medical care at all times”
  3. Restore access to water and electricity.
  4. Allow access to outside observers to monitor and report on the situation.
  5. Ensure that any use of firearms is in line with international human rights standards.
  6. Ensure prompt, effective, independent and impartial investigation of all deaths at the hands of police and security forces.

Howard Eissenstat
St. Lawrence University

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