“If we speak Kurdish they will fire us”, said an employee in Cizre Park Shopping Centre to a customer, when asked about why he was not responding in Kurdish.
“We are threatened by the shop owners and being watched by surveillance cameras”, added the employee. This incident was reported by Mezopotamya News Agency.
Cizre is a town where 95% of the population’s native language is Kurdish.
Cizre: A history of repression, curfews and bans
Cizre is also a district in Şırnak, located along the river Tigris, by the Turkey-Syria border.
With a population of around 150,000, residents suffered from endless curfews and the war between state forces and militants between 2015 and 2016.
Thousands of homes were destroyed during this period of conflict and after the curfew was lifted, 177 dead bodies, 25 of which belonged to children, were found in the basements of three buildings.
The UN Human Rights Council criticized the Turkish military regarding the killing of civilians during these curfews.
Today, there is no curfew but government pressure on Kurds continues in every aspect of their lives.
Residents of Cizre face restrictions in speaking their language or even electing their mayors. The elected mayor from the HDP party was replaced by a trustee in 2019, seven months after the official local elections.
The trustee has since removed Kurdish from the signs of historical places in the town. Speaking Kurdish has also been recently banned in many cafes.