Turkey’s Human Rights Association (İHD) on Thursday published a report on rights violations in Kurdish-majority southeastern Turkey in 2020, saying that security forces killed five civilians in the region throughout the year and injured 10, the Gazete Karınca news website reported.
İHD Vice Chairman Rehşan Bataray Saman said the number of rights violations in the region has been on the increase due to the government’s militaristic policies.
According to the report seven people have died in prison, while six law enforcement officers died by suicide.
In clashes that occurred in the region, 43 law enforcement officers were killed, while 30 were injured. Meanwhile, 218 militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Kurdish secessionist group waging an armed insurrection against Ankara since 1984, died in the conflict. A civilian who was caught in the crossfire also died, according to the İHD report.
Four were shot to death in the border area by security forces, while 13 froze to death.
Fifty-five people, among them eight children, 37 women and 10 men, were found dead under suspicious circumstances, the İHD said.
According to the report protesting the rights violations in the region has become virtually impossible as some cities have imposed permanent bans on gatherings, while others made use of short-term bans that have been reimposed 72 times in some cases, in effect permanently blocking the right to protest. Riot police intervened against 19 protests and outdoor gatherings.
Since the 2019 local elections, the government has prevented 61 elected pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) mayors and council members from assuming office, the report said.
The government in addition removed 117 mayors and city council members from office and replaced them with government appointees.
Ministry of Interior figures indicate that the government has ousted a total of 151 elected mayors from office on accusations of terrorism in the last six years, almost all from the HDP, a left-wing party with majority Kurdish support, replacing them with government-appointed bureaucrats.
According to Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, during the last two mayoral terms — 2014-2019 and 2019 onwards — 73 of the 151 mayors removed from office were sentenced to a total of 778 years in prison.
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has been in power since 2002, is widely criticized for cracking down on non-loyalist citizens and silencing dissent in the country, particularly after a failed coup attempt in 2016 following which it launched a massive crackdown on its opponents under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.
The HDP is among the groups that have suffered the most government pressure as dozens of its politicians are behind bars on politically motivated charges.