The Turkish government must act to stop the spiralling violence which continues to rock the predominantly Kurdish south-east of Turkey where 19 people were killed and many injured during protests prompted by the advances of the armed group that calls itself the Islamic State towards Syria’s border with Turkey.
“It is essential that the Turkish authorities act now to calm tensions with firm but rights-respecting policing and a commitment to investigate promptly the up to 19 deaths and scores of injuries of protesters,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s researcher on Turkey.
“Any use of force by the security forces must be strictly in line with international human rights standards, in particular the principles of necessity and proportionality.”
Protests were sparked by the IS (Islamic State armed group) attack on the city of Kobani/Ayn Al-Arab in Syria, which is held by the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG). Kobani has been held by the YPG since July 2012. It has been under siege and assault by the IS since July 2013, and has come under renewed and more sustained attack since September 2014.
Protesters siding with the YPG accuse the Turkish government of doing nothing to prevent killings of Kurdish people in Kobani or the advance of the IS.
Up to 18 people were reportedly shot or beaten to death during violent clashes in the region between the protesters and Islamist groups they claim are sympathetic to the IS.
In the city of Varto in the eastern province of Muþ, 25 year-old Hakan Buksur was killed after police used live ammunition against stone-throwing protestors. In the city protesters threw stones at police and set public buildings alight.
Police were joined by the army and military police, and curfews were declared as the authorities attempt to restore order across the region. Protests and clashes with police also took place in Turkey’s three largest cities, the capital Ankara, Istanbul and Ýzmir.
In the last month up to 200,000 Kurdish refugees from the Kobani area have fled to Turkey since the IS assault near the city. It is thought that up to 5,000 civilians may remain in the Kobani area, where armed clashes are taking place between the IS and YPG.
Refugees arriving from Kobani and surrounding villages on 25 September told an Amnesty International delegate on the border of widespread killings of Kurdish civilians and other abuses by advancing IS forces.“It is crucial that in this volatile situation, amid reports that the IS is seeking to cut off escape routes from Kobani to Turkey that the border is kept open to refugees from Syria,” said Gardner.
“Simmering tensions in Turkey have been brought to boiling point by the conflict in Syria. The government’s actions now will have far-reaching consequences. Calming the situation and investigating the deaths during yesterday’s bloody clashes will help bring some stability to a troubled region.”