The village of Ormaniçi (Bana) in the Kurdish-majority province of Şırnak (Şirnex) in southeast Turkey has been under military siege for almost two months. The siege has severely curtailed the freedom of movement of the villagers, forcing them to send their livestock to other villages and preventing them from tending their fields.
“The villagers have a large number of sheep and cattle. We’re forced to send our livestock to other villages. If these fields aren’t harvested within the next fortnight, they’ll dry out completely”, said resident Muhammed Ali Ece (75), adding, “The current government is not the same as the government of the ’90s in terms of personnel, but their policies have remained unchanged”.
Identity checks are conducted at two separate points within the village, and residents are not allowed to leave their homes after midnight. Abdullah Özkan (70) urged, “We have just one request: that this ban ends immediately before our fields dry up”. He further explained, “This blockade needs to be lifted before it’s too late; once our fields and the rice we’ve planted dry up, it will be pointless. In 10-15 days, no one should say anything because it will no longer matter to us”.
Until recently, villagers were allowed to irrigate their fields between 10 am and 4 pm”. A while ago, when we went to the fields, soldiers sometimes conducted identity checks. They would take our IDs during the hours we were in the fields. We were free from 10 am to 4 pm, and we had to comply with this. There was no verbal abuse or torture”, Özkan recounted.
However, Özkan added, the situation changed overnight. “At 12 last night, we received news that no one, no animals, no living beings from this village were to go outside. We were forced to send our animals to other villages. We’re trapped in the village. Right now, we’re nothing but captives”.
The governor’s office has further tightened restrictions by imposing a 15-day ban on entry and exit in five areas, including the rural parts of Bana village, exacerbating the already dire situation for the residents.