CHUV report: People sheltering in Cizre basement first killed, then burned

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A woman reacts while walking among the rubble of damaged buildings following heavy fighting between government troops and Kurdish fighters in the Kurdish town of Cizre in southeastern Turkey, which lies near the border with Syria and Iraq, on March 2, 2016. Thousands in Turkey's Kurdish-majority town of Cizre started returning to their homes on March 2 after authorities partially lifted a curfew in place since December for a controversial military operation to root out separatist rebels. / AFP PHOTO / ILYAS AKENGIN

A report by scientists from the Vaudois University Hospital Center (CHUV) in Switzerland showed that residents who took shelter in the basement of a building in a neighborhood of Turkey’s southeastern Cizre district during the curfews in February of last year were killed by gunshots and then burned.

According to a story on the Dicle news agency website, forensic medicine scientists at CHUV recently published a report following research on the remains of Berjin Demirkaya, who was trapped in the basement of a residential building in the Cudi neighborhood of Şırnak’s Cizre district. The report said she was killed before her body was burned.

After Turkey’s local authorities lifted the curfew in February of last year, family members found several burned body parts at the basement and claimed that civilians were killed by Turkish military forces and burned to destroy the evidence.

Turkish army and police carried out a wide-ranging operation on Feb. 7 of last year when they raided the building in Cudi, where dozens of people were wounded and reportedly killed. According to the news reports on Turkish TV, more than 60 people were trapped and may have been killed during the operation.

According to a report by Turkish human rights organization Mazlumder following the incident, more than 200 people were killed and over 10,000 houses were destroyed in Cizre alone during curfews that were imposed after July 2015.

During months-long curfews in Cizre’s Sur, Cudi and Nur neighborhoods, thousands of people, including children, women and elderly people, were trapped in their homes.

Cizre witnessed unprecedented destruction following clashes which took place during a curfew lasting over 78 days, and unlike in curfews before, the curfew in Cizre saw mass killings,” Mazlumder said.

Following the collapse of a settlement process for the Kurdish issue in Turkey in July 2015, there were repeated clashes between security forces and outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) members in southeastern provinces that resulted in nearly 200,000 locals leaving their homes due to fighting and curfews.

Turkish authorities imposed curfews in southeastern towns and districts to flush PKK militants from urban areas in Turkey’s mostly Kurdish Southeast starting in July 2015. More than 600 Turkish security forces were killed during the clashes.

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