Kurdish leader accuses Turkish gov’t of ‘hiding killings of civilians’

ANKARA, – Ankara has been deliberately obscuring events going on in the restive southeastern district of Cizre, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş has said, following reports that scores of civilians were killed in an operation against militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“Here is the situation in Cizre: There were 70-90 people in total in a few buildings around a cellar. There were no clashes but there was artillery fired [by the military],” Demirtaş said on Feb. 9.

“They committed a massacre in Cizre but they cannot announce it. They are scattering the dead bodies into side streets and ruined houses as if the dead bodies were already there,” he added.

Cizre, in the province of Şırnak, has been under a punishing curfew for six weeks as Turkish security forces pursue a relentless campaign against PKK militants. Reports have claimed that security forces raided a building in Cizre, killing up to 60 wounded people who had been sheltering there for more than a week.

However, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Feb. 8 dismissed claims that civilians were targeted, saying the state was “only fighting terrorists” and was “doing its best to cause no civilian casualties.”

HDP deputies had said dozens of wounded civilians were trapped in the cellar of the largely ruined building in Cizre, alleging that ambulances were being blocked from accessing the building and seven people had already died.

Diplomacy in Washington and Moscow

Meanwhile, the HDP announced on Feb. 9 that two HDP deputies have been holding talks in Washington, while another deputy has been in Moscow in order to attend the opening of a representation office of Syrian Kurds.

Urfa deputy Osman Baydemir and Bingöl deputy Hişyar Özsoy, who also serves as the party’s deputy co-chair in charge of external affairs, are in Washington to hold “a series of diplomatic meetings,” the HDP said in a written statement.

Baydemir and Özsoy had meetings scheduled with officials from the U.S. State Department and members of the U.S. Congress, and they will return to Turkey on Feb. 14 after “a series of diplomatic meetings in New York too,” the party said.

The HDP also said Diyarbakır deputy Feleknas Uca had travelled to Moscow to attend the opening of a representative office of “Syrian Kurdistan.”

Last week, Farhat Patiev, the chair of the Council of the Federal National-Cultural Kurdish Autonomy, said a representative office of Syrian Kurdistan was due to open in Moscow on Feb. 10.

Patiev had accompanied Demirtaş during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Dec. 23.

Source: Hurriyet Daily

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