Lawyers representing victims of the Cizre (Cizîr) events, a severe conflict and a crisis of human rights which occurred during the winter of 2015-2016 in the Kurdish-majority southeast of Turkey, have announced plans to take their cases to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). This decision follows rejection by the Turkish Constitutional Court of appeals claiming violations of the right to life.
The conflict in Cizre, which began with the declaration of a state-imposed curfew on 14 December 2015, resulted in the deaths of 288 people, 177 of whom died in cellars. The 79-day curfew saw families of the deceased seeking justice through legal channels, only to face rejection at the local courts and eventually at the Constitutional Court, which dismissed the claims, stating that no constitutional rights had been violated.
Hüseyin Tül, of the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD), elaborated on the legal journey. “After exhausting all domestic legal avenues, we’ve already lodged six cases with the ECHR. Following the Constitutional Court’s decision on 13 more cases, we are preparing to submit these to the ECHR too.” Tül criticised the stance of the Constitutional Court, highlighting a perceived political bias in the rulings.
The reports from various human rights organisations and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) painted a harrowing picture of human rights violations during the conflict. These reports documented numerous instances of people killed inside their homes, targeted attacks on homes calling for emergency services and the killing of individuals carrying white flags. The reports also noted the mistreatment of bodies and the looting and desecration of homes by special forces.
Selim Özkül, father of victims Star and Mehmet Özkül, voiced his frustration, “The state refuses to acknowledge its role in these deaths. We want the perpetrators to face justice so that such atrocities can never be repeated.”