Turkish state commits mass murder in Cizre

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The Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) has issued a statement saying that almost 60 civilians were killed in Cizre on 7 February 2016 by Turkish state forces. It is possible that chemical weapons were used. The 60 dead people were wounded, took refuge and were trapped in the basements of two buildings in Cizre. Turkish state forces would not allow medical staff, elected politicians or family access to them before they were finally killed. The hideous manner of their death is a deliberate warning to all Kurds not to resist Erdogan and the AKP government. Turkish state broadcaster, TRT, proclaimed ‘60 terrorists killed in Cizre’ and the Prime Minister Davutoglu said it was ‘A successful operation’ . On 10 February there are reports of some 25 more people in Cizre trapped in a third basement by Turkish armed forces and facing slaughter.

Cizre is a predominantly Kurdish city of approximately 115,000 people in south-east Turkey/North Kurdistan, close to the Syrian border. It was blockaded and placed under curfew by the Turkish forces on 12 December 2015 and has been attacked by tanks and heavy artillery since. Cizre is one of several Kurdish towns and cities in Turkey to have declared self-rule. It has been attacked by the Turkish state, defended itself and has been placed under curfew. Turkey’s President Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government have unleashed a ferociously savage war against the Kurdish people in Turkey, with the acquiescence of the British government, the European Union and the US - this complicity in slaughter must be stopped.

The Turkish state calls all the victims of its war ‘terrorists’, when they are overwhelmingly civilians and many of them are children. It claims to be fighting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which it brands as terrorists. Britain, the EU and US also designate the PKK as a terrorist organisation, even though the PKK has sought a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question in Turkey. This designation of ‘terrorist’ is being used by the Turkish state to legitimate its own acts of terror on the Kurds and to gain British, EU and US acceptance of its atrocities. Turkey is a member of NATO with NATO’s second largest army. Turkey also hosts key NATO and US bases in the Middle East. The strategic significance of Turkey for NATO is also used by Erdogan to buy international compliance with the war on the Kurds.

President Erdogan has also cynically used the future of 2.5 million refugees from Syria in Turkey to threaten the EU, if it does not yield to his demands. Erdogan told the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, and President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker at an EU-Turkey summit on 29 November 2015 that Turkey could send buses full of refugees to Greece and Bulgaria at any time, if Turkey was not given €3bn a year to reduce the flow of refugees into Europe. The refugees are bargaining chips in Erdogan’s conduct of the war.

The possible use of chemical weapons at Cizre is of particular significance and menace to the Kurds. Halabja is in South Kurdistan, northern-Iraq. During the Iran–Iraq war it was captured by Kurdish guerrillas and Iranian soldiers. Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist state in Iraq attacked the Kurds in Halabja with poison gas on 16 March 1988. Some 5,000 civilians were killed. After Halabja, the threat of a chemical attack would send the people fleeing, just as the Iraqi army intended. The corpses of those killed in Cizre have yet to be inspected by local medical authorities, but many were clearly burned to death.

The Kurdish resistance in Turkey and Syria today will not surrender. The British government must end all arms supplies to Turkey, unban the PKK and help force the Turkish state to end its war on the Kurds. Those responsible for Cizre must be held to account.

Trevor Rayne  

Demonstration: Stop Turkey’s war on the Kurds! Break the silence!

Assemble: 12.00 noon Sunday 6 March 2016 BBC Portland Place London W1A 1 AA

Rally: Trafalgar Square 14.00

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