Siege of Kurdish village continues: 6 people killed, 2 children taken hostage – reports

The outskirts of Korukoy village where armoured police vehicles are preventing passage into and out of the village, 20 February 2017, (c) Dihaber

The siege of a village in Turkey’s southeastern Kurdish region and reports of torture and killing has led to consternation. According to latest reports two children have been taken hostage by security forces and six people killed.

Korukoy (Xerabe Bava) village in Mardin’s Nusaybin district has been under siege since 11 February by Turkish security forces. A  curfew was declared on that date and lifted only a day later, however hundreds of soldiers are reportedly still in the village.

Almost all contact with the area has been cut. People are unable to leave their homes, tend to their livestock or go about their daily business. Soldiers stationed on the outskirts of the village are also preventing a delegation from local political parties entering the area.

Images posted on social media of tortured and mutilated bodies of alleged Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants, and reports by people who fled the village about torture, burning of homes and sexual assault have raised serious concerns about human rights violations.

According to a latest report by Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Diyarbakir deputy Feleknas Uca, who is one of the people trying to enter the village, six people have been killed.

“We are worried of a second Cizre massacre,” Uca said, referring to the killing of more than 100 people in 2016 across three basements, and called for international institutions to intervene.

The HDP deputy said 65 families and almost 500 people were still in the village and had been locked inside their homes by security forces.

“Hunger and thirst has set in, animals are perishing and homes are being burnt,” Uca said, adding that soldiers had taken two girls aged 12 and 14 hostage.

A report released by the HDP on Sunday entitled, “What is happening in Xerabe Bava?” has asked local and international institutions to intervene.

The HDP statement also says there are reports of people’s phones being confiscated, villagers being rounded up in homes and subjected to psychological and physical torture and executions.

Turkey’s Human Rights Association (IHD) chair Ozturk Turkdogan also made a statement on the issue saying they were investigating the matter and would send a delegation to the village.

“We saw what happened [in 2015 and 2016] in the districts where curfews were declared. We have reports that people have been killed extra-judicially. The curfew needs to lifted and delegations allowed to visit the area to allay concerns,” Turkdogan said.

The human rights activist also referred to a recent meeting between the Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and the governors of 21 southeastern Kurdish provinces saying, “this was a sign that there would be a rise in attacks on the region towards spring.”

A witness to some of the incidents, M.A., who fled the village in secret told Dihaber that the doors and windows of most of the houses had been broken by soldiers and that they had raided her house twice.

“They came with two armoured vehicles and broke down the garden door. I thought they were going to knock down the entire house. My husband and I both had operations recently and are ill. My daughter and son were also inside the house too. I thought they were going to kill us. Two of them started beating my son and banging his head against a wall. I shouted ‘how can two of you gang up against him?’ They took him to the garden and continued beating him. I bared my chest and said ‘look I recently had an operation, what do you want from us’. All that time it was raining bullets on our house. Not one, not two. They were raining bullets.”

The old woman also told reporters that Korukoy had been burnt down twice in the 1990s by security forces and that the state wanted to clear the village once again.

Turkish media, quoting official state sources, has been reporting the killing of two high-ranking PKK militants in the village since Thursday. However other claims and reports have gone unnoticed.

According to earlier reports at least 39 people have been detained, three killed and two missing. The bodies of three people were brought to Mardin Hospital morgue on Monday morning Dihaber reported.