While Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is jailing and firing thousands of academics, journalists and politicians for alleged affiliation with the coup attempt of July 15, his government’s operation against the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, guerrilla insurgency in the southeast has continued unabated – with an estimated 80 percent of one Kurdish city forcibly displaced.
Nusaybin, a district of Mardin, has had over 70,000 of its civilians forcibly displaced, with about half of its population—or 45,000 people—unable to return to their homes because of damage, according to a Migrants’ Association report published Friday.
The curfew, in its 134th day, was partially lifted on Monday for all but six parts of the city “due to the increasing terror incidents, to ensure the safety of our citizens’ and their property and to reinstate the atmosphere of peace and security,” read a statement by the governorate of Mardin.
The conflict against the PKK, which reached its one-year anniversary on Sunday, has enacted dozens of 24-hour open-ended curfews in at least seven Kurdish cities, according to Turkey’s Human Rights Foundation. Between last August — when the first was announced — and April 20, at least 1,642,000 residents have been affected by the 65 official curfews, and as of Feb. 27, 2016, at least 355,000 were forced to leave their homes.
“Our citizens that are residents of neighborhoods on lockdown certainly cannot enter them alone,” said Nusaybin’s Mayor Murat Sari to Internet Haber Merkezi on Thursday. “Because there are still explosions in many places.” He added that the neighborhoods should open up once bomb disposal finishes and that he will try to cover residents’ rents.
The city also founded a committee to help those with destroyed houses, reported the Kurdish Dicle news agency on Saturday, and the pro-Kurdish HDP party sent a delegation to Nusaybin on Tuesday to investigate living conditions under the curfew.
In less than a week, five reporters covering the curfew in Nusaybin for Kurdish outlets and two HDP politicians were detained by police, with all but one journalist released. Dicle news agency also reported that some reporters were told by police that they must seek permission before publishing any news.
Nusaybin has already been under seven curfews, in which at least 21 civilians died, according to the Turkey Human Rights Foundation. Some cities in the southeast have been under even longer curfews, especially the Sur district of Diyarbakir and the Cizre district of Sirnak, and in total at least 338 civilians died in curfew-declared areas as of April 20. Most of them died in or near their homes, and at least 18 from “the direct stress effect of curfews on their health conditions,” reported the association.