Graveyard attacks move to UN

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  • 15:36 14 October 2021
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DİYARBAKIR - Switzerland-based Mojust Foundation and ÖHD prepared a comprehensive report on the attacks on cemeteries and funerals by state forces. The report will be submitted to the UN Special Rapporteur on Turkey.
Violations of human rights and freedoms in Turkey were followed closely by European institutions and organizations working in this field. The International Mesopotamia Observatory of Justice (MOJUST), a non-governmental organization headquartered in Switzerland and focusing on serious human rights violations, especially in countries in the Middle East, focuses on violations in Turkey.
 Focusing on rights violations in the field of international human rights, criminal, humanitarian and war laws and their victims, MOJUST put the attacks on cemeteries and funerals of Kurds living in Turkey between 2015-2020 on its agenda. As a result of the joint work with the Lawyers' Association for Freedom (ÖHD), a comprehensive report of 142 pages was prepared.
 The first part of the report, which has only been prepared in English and consists of two parts, focused on the historical background of the widespread and systematic oppression policies towards the Kurds in Turkey. In the report, which stated that the Kemalists resorted to systematic authoritarian methods against the Kurds through the use of military force and violence in the first years of the Republic, it was pointed out that crimes up to genocide were committed between 1924 and 1938 when some Kurdish tribes opposed these policies. It was also stated that the Kurdish nation was wanted to be destroyed by wiping the minds and consciousness of Kurdish childhoods in boarding schools, in a colonial style education system, in order to "civilize" the Kurds, who were regarded as "primitive" with a colonial logic.
 In the report, it was emphasized that this strategy, including the relocation policy, was continued in the following years, a guerrilla struggle was launched in 1984 against the destruction policies implemented by the state in the Kurdish region, and serious crimes were committed against the Kurds during the State of Emergency (OHAL) that lasted from 1987 to 2002. According to the report, especially during the state of emergency applied in 13 of the 17 cities in the region between 1990-95; 3,415 Kurds were forcibly evacuated, nearly 4 million people were displaced, 2,680 civilians were killed by state forces, 363 people died as a result of mines, 181 prisoners were tortured to death, 116 Kurdish women were raped by the state forces, 1,620 people were killed in an unsolved murder. fell victim to death, 911 people were executed without trial, 4 thousand 462 people were tortured and thousands of people were detained.
 The report, which underlined that the crimes committed by the Turkish state between 1990-95 in particular, left no room for doubt, and it was noted that the AKP, which is in power today, uses the Kurdish issue as a political weapon to gain great profits.
In the report, which reminded that AKP took some democratic steps to break the Kemalist monopoly and to get support from the European Union (EU) in the first years of its coming to power, and allowed limited use of Kurdish, the report also states that the peace talks initiated in 2009 with PKK officials were also similarly carried out by the Erdogan regime. It was noted that it was dealt with tactically. In the report, which stated that the policy of oppression and annihilation towards the Kurds with modern repression methods was put into effect in this period, and this became the main principle of the administration, it was emphasized that the AKP government tended to destroy the Kurds inside and outside with the secret 'Collapse Plan' decided in September 2014. As one of these steps, President Tayyip Erdoğan blamed the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) instead of investigating the disproportionate use of force against the protesters, despite the fact that many people were killed, 772 people were injured and there were arrests in the attacks against those protesting the ISIS attack on Kobanê. It was stated that he blackmailed the Kurds by threatening to end the peace talks.
 The report included the following assessments: “As in the 1990s, the Erdogan regime adopted extrajudicial killings in the Kurdish region as a method of punishment and deterrence. For example, 8 civilians were killed by security forces in Cizre alone between 27 December and 17 January. In addition, mass arrests of Kurdish activists in the Kurdish region have systematically increased since February 2015. This strategy of destruction also carried out 226 attacks on PKK forces by state forces, although the PKK complied with the ceasefire from May 2014 to April 2015. On the other hand, in parallel with these suppression methods, the AKP continued peace talks with the PKK. The İmralı Delegation, consisting of HDP deputies along with the Deputy Prime Minister, signed the Dolmabahçe Agreement, a 10-item reconciliation declaration for the peaceful resolution of the Kurdish issue, on February 28, 2015. Seeing the HDP's 'people's politics' and 'peace' discourse as a threat, the AKP aimed to eliminate almost all forms of Kurdish politics by using the solution process as a weapon to destroy the HDP. During the election period between 23 March and 3 June 2015, there were 168 attacks and arson incidents, including armed and bombing attacks against HDP. During these attacks, 5 people died and 522 people were injured.”
Following the HDP's great success in the June 2015 elections by receiving 13 percent of the votes, it is stated in the report that curfews, which take 24 hours a day, have been implemented as an administrative norm in 10 cities, 39 towns and 63 districts of the region in a period of 9 months starting from August 2015. During this period, it was underlined that the crimes against Kurds in the 1990s by the state forces were more rigorously re-committed.
“State security forces have turned the Kurdish region back into a battlefield and collectively punished more than 1.5 million Kurdish civilians, who were automatically branded as ‘PKK sympathizers’,” the report said. Kurdish civilians who support the HDP were attacked indiscriminately in places where curfews were imposed due to their Kurdish ethnic identity and private political views. In the 1990s, the state expanded its policy of mass punishment of Kurds in rural areas of the Kurdish region to Kurdish cities and towns, and designed military attacks similar to Israel's approach in Palestine, destroying the livelihoods of the Kurds. It was stated that this situation was also documented by different local and international human rights organizations and the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
In the second part of the report, titled “Turkey's War Against Kurdish Graves”, attacks on cemeteries in different cities and inhuman approaches to the bodies buried there were examined.
 According to the findings, the report states that 18 cemeteries were completely destroyed by the police and soldiers between 17 September 2015 and 4 April 2020. In Şırnak province, 900 tombs were completely destroyed, 1,475 tombs were destroyed; In Diyarbakır, 143 graves were completely destroyed, 340 graves were destroyed; 200 tombs were completely destroyed in Batman, 369 tombs were destroyed; 150 tombs were completely destroyed in Dersim province, 3 of them were destroyed; In Van, 41 tombs were destroyed, 69 tombs were destroyed; 200 tombs were destroyed in Siirt; 232 tombs were destroyed in Mardin; In Suruç/Urfa, 9 tombs were completely destroyed, 3 tombs were destroyed; 267 tombs were completely destroyed in Bitlis; In Hakkari, 54 tombs were completely destroyed; 27 tombs were completely destroyed and 8 tombs were destroyed in Muş; 80 tombs were destroyed in Bingöl. Due to the number of tombs destroyed and damaged by helicopter aerial bombardment of the 'Martyr Suat Tekin Kızılay Cemetery' in the province of Ağrı, the minimum size of these figures is very clear; The status of the 'Pakrewangeha Egît Suruç and Ayten Tekin Cemetery' in Mardin and the 'Çemçe Cemetery' in the Kağızman district of Kars are still unknown. As MEBYA-DER stated, the destroyed tombs in this research report correspond to less than one-fourth of the real figures, as studies on this subject have been hindered and persistently criminalized.”
 In the report, pointing out the legal legislation in Turkey and the international conventions to which it is a party, it was requested that a fair, impartial and effective investigation be carried out immediately to identify the perpetrators of the attacks, that preventive legal arrangements should be made, and that Turkey should apologize to the families for the events that have taken place so far. The report prepared by both institutions will be forwarded to the UN Turkey Special Rapporteur Mary Lawlor in the coming days.

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