Ecological Destruction Report on Curfew Areas in Turkish-Kurdistan: Mesopotamian Ecology Movement

Public Statement, 29.12.2015:

After the AKP government overthrew the negotiating table with the Kurdish Freedom Movement in spring 2015 the increasing environment of violence affects more and more gravely the social life and causes deaths of a growing number of civilians, especially women and children. The Turkish government has imposed curfews and enforced total blockades against cities and neighbourhoods which have declarated their self-rulements in summer 2015 in the Kurdish Southeast of Turkey, i.e. in Turkish (North)-Kurdistan. This leads to systematic state violance on these communities and has brought vast destruction and loss of property and life.

As the Mesopotamian Ecology Movement we did a research and interviews in the affected areas, where the curfew has been declared, in order to report the ecological dimension of faced destruction.

Research method: A field work group was established by activists of the Mesopotamian Ecology Movement, some NGOs and people with no organizational background. A total number of 85 interviewers from the greater region worked in several groups in different provinces. The research was carried out by posing questions, prepared as open-ended, to the people affected by the curfew and writing down immediately the answers to forms. In total 800 families were interviewed.

Research areas: In the province of Diyarbakır (Amed): districts of Sur and Bismil. In the province of Mardin (Mêrdîn): districts of Nusaybin and Dargeçit. In the province of Hakkari: districts of Yüksekova and Şemdinli. In the province of Şırnak (Şirnex): districts of Şırnak, Cizre, Silopi and Beytüsşebap. In the province of Van (Wan): district of Süphan, the neighborhoods of Yeni, Karşıyaka, Hacıbekir, Edremit.

Research Time: The research was carried out between October 24, 2015 and November 10, 2015.

Observed and stated fact-findings: In the districts imposed by curfews the buildings have usually fewer floors and often gardens in the backyard. An important part of the residents do truck farming and grow fruit trees. Furthermore the people live off by livestock husbandry in their gardens or in the basements. People’s lifestocks and gardens experienced a huge loss because of the curfews and conflicts. The also could not go to work on their near farmlands which led in the loss of harvesting agricultural products.

It was observed that the animals died because of shrapnel, bullets and widely used tear gas. Some dead animals were buried in the gardens after being limed by their owners. The gardens and animals remained neglected because some people had to leave their houses and others could not leave their houses.

In areas close to mountainous regions (particularly Şırnak, Şemdinli, Yüksekova, Dargeçit) in the pasture landscape is done livestock husbandry. The Turkish State declared these areas as special security zones and bombed them systematically. The people have been forced to leave their pasture areas without to take their animals. Some of the animals died due to the bombings. Especially beekeeping activities came to a stopping point. Numerous forest fires have broken out as a result of bombings which led also to the death of many animals in the forests (see report on forest fires published in October 2015:). The feeding of pigeons is known as a part of everyday life in Sur district of Diyarbakır. After the declaration of the curfew, many pigeons died because of shrapnels, tear gas and deliberately targeting by security forces. It was even seen that the security forces killed the ownerless pigeons by hand force.

In the areas affected by curfews in many locations and streets the clean water supply pipes were burst and also the clean water mixed with sewage. An electricity and water cut has experienced in all curfew areas. Usually the electricity has been cut by the companies in charge as a result of state pressure. Although the government forced local authorities to cut water for the curfew areas, the municipalities refused it. The people who had clean water shortage, were forced to use water from dwells which have been digged in their gardens many years ago and not been used for long time. In some curfew areas, many people said there are some changes in the taste of agricultural products and drinking water. It is indicated that the using of tear gas and munitions caused the change of taste in foods and drinking water in these areas. Many people stated that through consumption of food and water they or their children experienced vomit. It is observed that the febrile illness have been diagnosed widelyy with the children in Dargeçit, Nusaybin, Yüksekova and Cizre. Diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), shortness of breath above-average have been determined as a result of the conflicts and munitions.

The security forces do not allow the municipalities to collect garbage in the conflict areas so that in the streets so an unhealthy environment has occurred. It was observed that particularly children live under very difficult conditions with serious impacts. The children have developed the behaviors such as anxiety, fear, crying, insomnia etc. when they hear explosions, shootings and continuous announcements made by police’s vehicles. It was observed that some families tied their children in order to prevent them to go out of the house. The waste of munitions, which has been used during the conflict, was collected by children who played with them in the streets. It is indicated that the whole conflict will have grave effects on children’s health and psychology in the future.

As a result of repeated curfews and intensified state repression, in the most neighbourhoods a minority of the inhabitants has left temporarily their homes while in fewer neighborhoods the majority of the residents have left their neighborhoods during the curfews times. The latter is the case for Silvan and Sur.

All described repressive policies are in the responsibility of the Turkish government and cause serious damage on the ecosystem in and around the settlements. The state policy in the areas affected by the curfews have usurped the basic human right to life such a clean and habitable environment, having education and health care and the right to live in security and meet nutritional needs.

We request that the Turkish government and its sub-institutions must stop immediately the policy to declare curfews in areas where self-rulement has been declared. The Turkish government has to ensure also immediately that from now on in any action of Turkish security forces in Turkish-Kurdistan violence against civilians inherent rights to life must be prevented. Any destruction and damage to people resulted by the acting of Turkish security forces has to compensated comprehensively, including the long-term expected social and psychological impacts. In the consideration of destruction the impacts on the nature must be considered too. To prevent any similar social and ecological destruction, harm and suffering we demand an immediate two side cease fire which results in the start of new negotation between the two conflict sides, the Turkish government and the Kurdish Freedom Movement.

Contact: Diplomacy Committee of the Mesopotamian Ecology Movement E-mail
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