Pro-Kurdish HDP sends photo album of devastated Cizre to European lawmakers

Pro-Kurdish opposition party in Turkey has prepared a photo album showing traces of the conflict during curfews in the now-devastated Cizre district in the southeastern Kurdish province of Şırnak and sent it to European lawmakers.

The album composed of 92 photographs named “Mezopotamya’nın Sevgili Şehri Cizre/The Beloved City of Mesopotamia” was sent to lawmakers from the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said on June 2 in a press release.

“As known, during curfews which have been declared on and off since July 2015, and [one] which was finally started on Dec. 14, 2015, and ended on Feb. 11, 2016, in Cizre, the city has virtually been completely wrecked and hundreds of people have lost their lives,” the HDP said.

After the curfew was lifted, a delegation from the party went to the city and prepared the album, which includes an appendix composed of oral evidence as well as reports in Turkish and English which have been drafted by civil society organizations such as the Human Rights Association (İHD), the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV), the Trade Union of Employees in Public Health and Social Services (SES), the Diyarbakır Bar Association, the Association for Human Rights and Solidarity for the Oppressed (MAZLUMDER), the Libertarian Lawyers Association (ÖHD), the Mesopotamia Lawyers Association (MHD), the Asrın Law Office and the Foundation for Society and Legal Studies (TOHAV). A letter by the United Nations concerning Cizre is also included in the DVD format appendix.

It was also sent to various civil society organizations and political parties at home and abroad.

Meanwhile, HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş was paying a two-day visit to Switzerland to hold talks with leading parliamentarians, as well as senior officials from international institutions.

Demirtaş will hold various talks in Switzerland during his visit on June 2-3, the party’s press office said.

Demirtaş will meet Christa Markwalder, the speaker of the Swiss House of Representatives; Raphaël Comte, the speaker of the Senate; and Christian Levrat, head of the Socialist Party and the president of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

Demirtaş will also hold talks with Martin Chungong, the secretary-general of the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), and Gianni Magazzeni, chief of the Americas, Europe and Central Asia branch of the Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Following months of fierce debate, a bill that will mainly target HDP lawmakers with the aim of stripping them of their immunity from prosecution was passed last month by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the vocal support of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the founding leader of the party.

Demirtaş, one of two leaders of the third-largest party in parliament, has long said the move is likely to create more violence and stifle democratic politics, as the country has been embroiled in a reignited conflict between security forces and militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) since July 2015.

Demirtaş has also been arguing that Erdoğan’s drive for an executive presidency was preventing the revival of a peace process between the state and the PKK.

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