by séamas carraher | 7th July 2016 8:55 am

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For 79 days, the people of Cizre witnessed an exceptional massacre in history. For the sake of a humane and free life, they lost their daughters and sons during the resistance. Yet they have not surrendered, and have not asked for mercy.”
April 17, 2016
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)

In April this year The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Partiya Demokratîk a Gelan, in Turkey, produced its promised Cizre Report, on the Turkish military curfew of this city in the ??rnak Province of northern Kurdistan, near the Syrian border.[2][2]
You need to read this. The whole world needs to read this.
If you can’t (or won’t) read this document and if your heart doesn’t break when you do or your spirit cry out “enough” then you can be sure you’re probably not really alive. Not where it counts anyway.  Not where whatever it is that makes us human survives in the midst of our seemingly unstoppable history of violence, cruelty and unspeakable horror.
Which is probably where ‘our’ slightly more western part of Europe is hiding out at the moment (half ‘alive’ and obsessed with economic growth, consumer spending, GDP, transnational trade deals and agricultural subsidies)…that and turning the blind eye called “denial”:
“People of all ages, and especially women, have expressed during interviews their deep hurt at the public’s silence in the face of the state’s massacre of mostly injured civilians in the basements” [3][3]
…especially when you realise that this Report tells us that, in the midst of this silence that is as enormous as the physical brutality that is currently being waged in the part of south eastern Turkey that is northern Kurdistan – a war is being waged on civilians, and in residential neighbourhoods, to equal anything going on anywhere else in the world – only here, one that seems unimportant or trivial to the western powers – including the mainstream media and the political establishment that seem more concerned with the onslaught of Syrian refugees into our cities than the flagrant violation of human rights on a civilian population being perpetrated by the Turkish military in a place like Cizre.
To glorify democracy and to silence the people is a farce; to discourse on humanism and to negate people is a lie.”[4][4]
Someone should point this out to our current ‘leaders’.
“Despite the evidence presented, there was a lack of condemnation from the West and human rights organizations, which prompted the Russian Foreign Ministry to accuse the bodies of being selective in their condemnation.”

Russia Today said on the 28th April.[5][5]
Echoes of History?

Of course, the Turkey of President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, responsible for the current atrocities, is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), a good enough reason, Robert Fisk, of the London Independent, recently explained, for the United States to still see the Armenian genocide that began in 1915 as ‘a matter of historical debate’ and not a planned, systematic and brutal massacre of innocent people:
“And Turkey – heaven be praised – is now our good friend, Nato ally and, since this month, our bastion against the Muslim refugee “invasion” of Europe.[7][7]
Coincidently, In the early 20th century the Armenian population of Cizre was estimated at around 3,000. In June 1915, as part of the Armenian Genocide, all
“…were arrested, tortured, and subsequently murdered. Many of the victims had their throat slit and were then thrown into the river Tigris. The women were deported on rafts towards Mosul. A few survived through the means of adoption by local Kurds; however, most were raped and/or drowned. The remaining Armenian population, located in the rural parts of Cizre, was massacred on 8 August 1915. Few managed to survive.”[8][8]
The question now is: are the Kurdish people to suffer the same fate, followed by a similar silence?
The Siege of Cizre 2015-2016

On the 7th June, 2015 the pro-Kurdish HDP Party received 91.7% of the votes in the south eastern region in the Turkish parliamentary elections. In July the two and a half year ceasefire between the AKP (Justice and Development Party) government and the PKK (The Kurdistan Workers’ Party – Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê?) ended. In September of that year, Cizre was blockaded by Turkish Security Forces, who placed a curfew on the city for eight days. The death toll in these days is estimated at 22 people. This marked the final end of the Kurdish–Turkish peace process.
“After June 7, Erdo?an and the AKP government, fully bound by his will, took the developments in Rojava into consideration, returned to the concept of war, and ended the peace process, in his words “deep-freezing” the latter.”[10][10]
At the time of the first siege the Council of Europe raised concerns about “disproportionate use of force by security forces against civilians.”[11][11] In the election re-run organised by Erdo?an and the AKP government on November 1st, the HDP Party now received 93.2% of the votes in the region. Following this on 13 December 2015, the curfew on Cizre was implemented.
This 79 day siege lasted until March 2, 2016. On 7 February, a large-scale operation was conducted in the Cudi neighbourhood and a number of residential buildings were hit by artillery shells.

By early February news of the massacres of the injured trapped in basements under these buildings collapsed by Turkish artillery fire, reminiscent of the extermination of the Warsaw Ghetto, began to emerge
“While details of the savage massacre committed by Turkish forces in ??rnak’s Cizre     district are not clear yet due to the ongoing blackout, it came out that 26 people             trapped in the first basement of atrocity had all been massacred.

A total of 31 people in this first basement, 15 of whom were wounded, had been                        awaiting evacuation for 19 days when they were last reached 2 weeks ago.”
ANF NEWS, Friday, February 12, 2016, 4:40 PM[13][13]
But the Cizre report shows us, not just these finally-counted 251 dead, 176 of them[14][14] buried alive or burnt in buildings they were sheltering in, not just the injured refused medical treatment, not just civilians trapped by military sniper fire, it shows us a seemingly endless list of horrors that armed police and military units motivated by belligerent politicians concerned with their grip on power feel free to perpetrate without any fear of being called to account:
“Turkish President Tayyip Erdo?an says members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) must either surrender or be “neutralized,” stressing that the time for peace talks is over.” (April 2016)[15][15]

By March 2016, residents had started returning to a devastated city.
The report, compiled by the 4 HDP members who visited Cizre for 10 days after the blockade was lifted, collects the narrative from witnesses and attempts to document the list of atrocities perpetrated during the siege.
Here, crudely speaking, is an attempt to summarise the suffering endured as well as the experiences of the people murdered and those that survived and who are currently working at rebuilding their homes, their neighborhoods and this city with its roots reaching back beyond the early Iron Age:
First they ordered all the schoolteachers out of the city.
Then they attacked with tanks and artillery.
State forces did not let anyone enter or leave the town of Cizre.
People were not able to leave their homes and had to stay there for days.
Electricity and water, the two basic necessities of life, were denied.
People were condemned to hunger and thirst.
People had to face freezing cold.
They could not use their electric heaters.
In fear of the state forces, people were afraid of lighting wood and coal burning stoves.
The Cizre State Hospital was taken and used by the state forces as a base.
It was impossible to procure medication during the siege.
Medical attention to the injured was prevented.
People seeking to assist the wounded were shot and killed by Turkish sniper fire.
The children’s school buildings were turned into military bases.
Buildings, streets and avenues in the city center were attacked by tanks, mortars and other forms of heavy weapons.
27 children were killed.
Terror. Fear. Panic.
Thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed, burnt and have become unusable.
Animals and fruit trees were destroyed.
Most of the chickens and roosters in the courtyards of people’s homes have been killed.
Witnesses say state forces have left their faeces on the couches, beds and blankets, plates and pots and in entryways.
Valuable items that belonged to household members were stolen.
The cemeteries in Kale neighborhood were demolished.
Sexist, offensive and humiliating writings left on walls.
Other hate speech was written on walls.
Torture and killing of cats and chickens.
Women directly targeted, tortured, abused.
20 women murdered.
Psychological warfare such as the circulation of a photograph of a tortured female body through social media.
State forces played nationalist songs praising ‘Turkishness’ via loudspeakers.
State forces spray paint the interiors of houses with racist and sexist slogans.
The “Turkish flag” hung from homes.
The burning down of the 450-year-old Seyidan Mosque.
Burning of photos and books related to Kurdish history and culture.
People’s homes were forcefully converted into military quarters and looted.
Kitchen appliances, TVs, refrigerators, cabinets, mattresses, etc. were shot at, broken.
Snipers trapped people in buildings.
People were massacred in the “Basements of Horror”.
176 corpses, including those of 25 children, were unearthed from the ruins of three buildings.
Soldiers threw bottles full of gasoline inside the buildings, which they then set on fire with lighters they threw in.
Evidence of the crimes they committed was destroyed.
Turkish state official stated everyone killed was a “terrorist”.
Other voices (not in the Report) added:
Soldiers trapped people in burning buildings.
People were burned alive in the basements.
Bodies were decapitated.
Ammunition was left by the murdered bodies by Turkish soldiers.
Relatives were given piles of bones of their loved ones.[16][16]
“Tens of people were killed while cooking in their kitchens, drinking tea in their living rooms, going to the bathroom, and walking in the streets at both daytime and nighttime…”[17][17]
“While an average of 3 to 4 people were killed in Cizre on a daily basis up to the 41st day of the curfew, starting on January 22, 2016, security forces have staged attacks that qualify as massacres. Basements that housed civilians, including injured individuals, who had taken refuge from the attacks in town (which was within the knowledge of security forces) have been hit with tanks, mortars and other heavy weapons. These basements where citizens took refuge, and which exemplified the merciless behaviour of the state towards the injured have been named “basements of horror”
These are just some of the details the Report complied by the witnesses who visited Cizre have reported…
“During the Cizre Siege, 251 people, including 176 who died in the basements of horror, were slaughtered mercilessly. Among the dead there were 27 children, 20 women, and 79 people who have not been identified yet.”
“State officials have claimed that everyone who was killed during the 79  day Cizre siege were “terrorists.” Even Prime Minister Davuto?lu has said that there were no civilians killed amongst those in Cizre. The fact that the AKP government has deemed babies and children “terrorists” is not new. In 2006, the prime minister of the time Tayyip Erdo?an made clear his opinion and the ultimate power given to state forces by saying that against those who were, “whether woman or child, necessary action will be taken.”[19][19]
In April 2016, the Turkish Human Rights Association watchdog submitted a report to the United Nations detailing the mass killing of over 120 Kurdish civilians in Cizre.[20][20]
In May 2016:
“U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein made a statement regarding the massacre committed by Turkish state forces in Cizre district of ??rnak.
Hussein said reports have been delivered to the United Nations of the massacres committed in Cizre and other Kurdish towns, and called upon the Turkish government to allow a UN examination in the region.
‘Most disturbing of all are the reports quoting witnesses and relatives in Cizre, which suggest that more than 100 people were burned to death as they sheltered in three different basements that had been surrounded by security forces,’  Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said.”
We need to wake up to what is going on in Cizre.
The world needs to wake up to what is going on in Cizre and in the other parts of ‘Turkish Kurdistan’.
“For 79 days, the people of Cizre witnessed an exceptional massacre in history. For the sake of a humane and free life, they lost their daughters and sons during the resistance. Yet they have not surrendered, and have not asked for mercy.”
What can we say while the people of Cizre bury their dead and the people of Northern Kurdistan prepare themselves for the next assault of the military machine?
As I travelled home recently in the early morning from my night’s work, I listened to an old recording, a voice filled with anger, outrage and sadness which brought my mind back to the tragedy of the people of Cizre and the people of northern Kurdistan and people everywhere faced with this violence and darkness:
They are murdering all the young men.
For half a century now, every day,
They have hunted them down and killed them.
They are killing them now.
At this minute, all over the world,
They are killing the young men.
They know ten thousand ways to kill them.
Every year they invent new ones.
In the jungles of Africa,
In the marshes of Asia,
In the deserts of Asia,
In the slave pens of Siberia,
In the slums of Europe,
In the nightclubs of America,
The murderers are at work.
Kenneth Rexroth, the American poet who died in 1982, was reading his poem ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’.[21][21]

Though the poem was written in 1955, if it was today he would have added the line:
In the neighbourhoods of northern Kurdistan,
…the murderers are at work.
Looking back it seems we have been ‘lucky’, here in Ireland, that the work continues to build and grow our own peace process and the international community serves as its advocate and witness and the atrocities that occurred here took place – even if it took much time, even if only eventually – in the full glare of publicity and public condemnation, despite the might of whatever empire,  British or Turkish…
We can only hope (and insist) that the international community speak out and that the different peoples within Turkey and Kurdistan will be offered and find the conditions and the incentives needed to return to their own, now desperately-needed, peace process.
“The Cizre Siege and how it has been experienced is one of the most important social and economic consequences of the termination of the Peace Process. It revealed how precious peace was and how conflicts lead to irrecoverable damages in all parts of society.”


Read the Report here:[23]
Review the ongoing report of the crimes against humanity committed during the siege here:[24]
Footage from Cizre and some short interviews with survivors:[25][26][27]

séamas carraher


[28]Sources & Available Information
[1] Kurdish residents of #Cizre returning to their destroyed neighborhood on March 3. Credit Moises Saman/Magnum


[3][31] The Cizre Report: The Third Basement of Horror (Sur Neighborhood Akdeniz Street)

[4][32] Excerpt From: Freire, Paulo; Bergman Ramos, Myra;. “Pedagogy of the Oppressed.” iBooks. Page 177.


[6][34] By Henry Morgenthau – Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story Doubleday, Page p314, ([35]), Public Domain,[36]










[16][53] Kani Xulam, director of the American Kurdish Information Network,[54]





[21][59] Poetry Readings in the Cellar, Kenneth Rexroth and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Recorded at the Cellar in 1957,[60]


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