ECtHR Asks Cizre to Turkey: What Did You Do to Prevent Civilian Losses?

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The hearing of the court case relating to Orhan Tunç, who was one of the 189 people from Cizre, Şırnak who lost lost their lives in the operations launched in the region three years ago, was held at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) today (November 13).

Speaking to bianet about the hearing, one of the attorneys of Tunç family, Ramazan Demir has stated that at the hearing held today, the court directed questions to Turkey regarding “the nature of the operations conducted in the region and the measures taken by the government to prevent civilian losses.”

Demir has added that the government representatives at the court gave evasive answers and solely referred to the “ditches.”

The hearing which was held today was attended by the lawyers Newroz Uysal, Hüseyin Tül, Helen Duffy and Senem Gürol.

“ECtHR is aware of the gravity of the operations”

Attorney Demir has made the following remarks about the hearing:

“The judges at the ECtHR asked the government what measures were taken by the state to protect the right to life. We also had similar questions. In addition to that, the attitude of the judiciary in Turkey regarding the case was also evaluated. In summary, questions regarding the responsibility of the government were asked at the hearing.

“The government mostly did not answer the questions or gave evasive answers. The government representatives frequently referred to the ditches in the period.

“We have seen that the ECtHR is aware of the gravity of the operations as well as the civilian losses.”

ECtHR will evaluate the discussions and announce its judgement later on.

35 applications, 2 lawsuits in total

Regarding the judicial process regarding the death of Tunç in the domestic law, Ramazan Demir has said,

“As in the case of all incidents of death, the Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation. However, like all other case files pertaining to Cizre, it was stated that ‘the member of a terrorist organization was killed in the conflict’ and the file was closed. We have also applied to the Constitutional Court about this verdict. But, we have not received any response yet.”

35 applications in total have been submitted to the ECtHR regarding the rights violations during the curfews in Sur and Cizre. The court has decided to evaluate the case files of Orhan Tunç and Ömer Elçi and apply the legal debates in these files to other applications.

What happened in Cizre?

While the curfew declared in the district of Cizre in Turkey’s southeastern province of Şırnak on December 14, 2015, was still in effect, Minister of Interior of the time Efkan Ala announced on February 11, 2016 that the operations of blockade were ended.

However, the curfew in Cizre was rearranged in a way to be in force at nights as of March 2, 2016 and entrance to/ exit from the district was also prohibited until March 2, 2016.

After the curfew was lifted in the neighborhoods of Cudi and Sur in Cizre, 177 dead bodies, 25 of which belonged to children, were found in the wrecks of mainly 3 buildings and the houses in the vicinity.

While the 103 of the deceased could be identified, 74 people were put to rest without being identified. The total number of the dead has been announced as 189.

According to the report of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), almost all of the dead bodies were beyond recognition because they were either burned or decomposed.

The remnants of human bones and military ammunition were also found in the basements. Forensic Experts found remnants of human bones of children in the basements.