‘Special security zones’ is a term coined by Turkish authorities. They are employed particularly in the Kurdish-majority eastern and south-eastern provinces to keep Kurdish cities and rural areas under a constant state of surveillance by the military forces of the state.
Many rural areas in the eastern city of Hakkari (Colemêrg) have been declared as ‘security zones.’ Consequently, the entrances and exits to these areas as well as access to and from many settlement areas are strictly controlled by military forces, either by soldiers or the gendarmerie.
Most recently, on 22 January this year, 12 areas in Çukurca (Çelê), Yüksekova (Gever) and Şemdinli (Şemzînan) districts were declared to be ‘special security zones.’ Since then, local residents living in these areas have not been able to move or travel freely.
Kurdish villagers living in Erdemli (Meleyan), a small hamlet in Çatalca (Dêmanê), located near the borders of Iran and Iraq, have also been among those who have found it hard to make a living due to the extreme security measures in place.
Lütfiye Kılıç, a Kurdish villager and a berivan (a woman who makes her living by milking animals) who lives in Erdemli, spoke to Jin News about her work and how local people are being constantly affected by the military prohibitions.
“We breed and milk sheep and produce cheese out of their milk. One day, I told my family to stay here overnight, because it was too hard to come here again in the morning,” she said.
That night, they stayed on the plateau, but she says it was a dreadful experience: “During the night, we heard shelling and arms fire. I was so afraid that night that we could die.”
Recalling the old days, she said: “40 years ago, when I was a little girl, we used to go to the mountain plateaus with my family for sheep rearing. We used to set our tents and stay there for the whole summer, in peace. We would not know what fear is.
“But now, they build military stations at all corners of all pleateaus,” she added and compared the present situation to the past: “In the past, it was so beautiful and cheerful here. We could dance ‘halay’ till the sun rose. Now, there is a military station at every corner. On this side, there are Turkish stations, on the other side, there are Iranian stations.”
Lütfiye says that due to these extreme security measures and military situations surrounding their living areas, they have no peace anymore.
“When the sun goes down, they tell us, ‘Hurry, leave here.’ When we ask them why, they tell us the soldiers might open fire at us.”