Diyarbakir in Turkey becomes a Ghost Town

Recently, Amnesty International sent three of their representatives to Turkey’s southeastern province, mainly the Sur district in Diyarbakir. The area falls under the Kurdish population, which Turkey says are a threat to its national security. 24,000 people used to live here, now it is a ghost town.

Amnesty’s Europe and Central Asia director, John Dalhuisen in a tweet gave his views, saying the area was heavily shelled, then bulldozed, while being compulsorily purchased. He termed it as forced displacement. He was accompanied by the Secretary General of Amnesty International Salil Shetty and Andrew Gardner, the researcher for Turkey at Amnesty. The minaret where the Kurdish lawyer Tahir Elci was shot in November 2015, was sealed and special permission was required to inspect the area.

Sur has been under a state of curfew since Turkey started to curb violence in the district last year. Turkey and many western nations term Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) as terrorists, while they use the same party as part of the Syrian Democratic Forces to fight Islamic State extremists in Syria. The Kurdish controlled areas by PKK in Turkey have been heavily shelled by use of artillery in past years, making life miserable for citizens. Diyarbakir’s governor, Hüseyin Aksoy in February asked the citizens to surrender, which the citizens of Sur rejected, citing the area belongs to them and they would not surrender to the mistrusted Turkish authorities. Shetty himself in a tweet termed this forced displacement disproportionate. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), in a recent report said more than 950,000 civilians have been displaced in the southeastern provinces of Turkey.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also expressed deep concerns over the actions Turkey has been taking. He asked the authorities to let international agencies monitor the area and provide humanitarian assistance to those in need. Zeid said, “In 2016, to have such a lack of information about what is happening in such a large and geographically accessible area is both extraordinary and deeply worrying. This blackout simply fuels suspicions about what has been going on. I, therefore, renew my call for access for UN staff and other impartial observers and investigators, including civil society organizations and journalists.”

Unless proper inquiry in the human rights violations done by a turkey is taken, it is possible that one day the whole of the southeastern province will become an large ghost town.

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