Turkey’s New Ordinary Rule: Curfews

Damage in civilian house in Nusaybin, Mardin, shortly after a break end of the 5 day curfew during October.

Photo of damage in civilian house taken shortly after 5 days curfew in Mardin, Nusaybin, duringOctober.

Since August 16, 2015, an instrument of extraordinary or emergency rule – that is the ban on going out into the streets, otherwise a part of curfews – had become the norm, or ordinary rule in the southeastern regions of Turkey, mostly populated by Kurds¹. Special forces supported by the military have been carrying on operations in cities and towns, which have built barricades and declared self-rule. The Peace Process, which had created hope in all sections of society, is becoming weaker by the day, creating the appearance of civil war. Prime Minister Davutoğlu had his to say concerning the operations:

“In the meeting we held in the November of 2013 (probably the National Security Meeting) we foresaw 12 critical towns. If you look at the struggle within the past two-three months, there is Lice, Silvan, Varto and Kulp; Cizre is continuing, there is Doğubeyazıt and Yüksekova.  Contol has been established in most of these critical regions. Currently there are four or five towns in which there is an intensified struggle: Sur, Cizre, Silopi, Nusaybin, Dargeçit…It is now all concentrated there. What is special about these towns? Nusaybin, Cizre, and Silopi are border towns. Nusaybin is a continuation of Kamışlı (on the Syrian side), which if you take just ten steps, you are on the Syrian side, in any case.”

Click to see the image in full size

Click to see the image in full size

As can be discerned from the table, in all these towns/cities the HDP had a larger proportion of votes as compared to the AKP. As of January 6, 2015,

  • More then 120 civilians are killed  – and the numbers continue to increase everyday (Human Rights Foundation of Turkey)²,
  • A total of 268 days of curfew has been imposed and implemented in 7 cities and 21 towns,
  • During the curfews, i.e., bans on going out into the street, water supply and electricity are cut, communication is severed to the extent that neither home nor cell phones function, and basic food supplies are impossible to obtain. Many houses are destroyed. Hospitals, schools, and all municipal services are out of function.
  • Nearly 1,3 million people are impacted by the curfew directly, while 10 million are indirectly affected.
  • Curfews have periodically halted for short periods of time in these centers, as families and individuals are expected to evacuate their homes and move out. We observe that the number of people enforced to migrate or migrating amount to tens of thousands.

*The numbers in the table reflect the situation as of January 6, 2016.

(1)  Hurriyet Dailiy News, Curfew declared in Turkey’s east over clashes with PKK militants, 16 August 2015.

(2) Updated numbers on violations of the right to life as a result of curfew by different sources are as follows: According to updated figures of Human Rights Foundation of Turkey’s Documentation Center’s as of January 6, 2016, at least 124 civilians have lost their lives within the period of the 56 officially declared curfews in 17 towns of 7 districts (see: Link). According to Human Rights Association’s Documentation Unit, from the start of armed conflict in July 24, 2015 until January 6, 2016, 134 civilians living in cities with declared curfews have lost their lives as a result of curfews. 12 people have lost their lives in year 2016 during curfews in Sur, Cizre and Silopi. People’s Democratic Party’s Information Center which daily monitor the violations of the right to life reflect the death toll to be 152 as of January 6, 2016.