Alalamalislami: Amnesty International has called on Turkey to end "draconian restrictions" on the movement of people and excessive use of force in the country's Kurdish-populated regions.
Turkey has imposed successive curfews over the last months in towns in the southeast as part of military operations aiming to crush militants of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Amnesty said, "The operations currently being conducted under round-the-clock curfews are putting the lives of tens of thousands of people at risk and are beginning to resemble collective punishment."
Curfews have been imposed in Cizre in Sirnak province and the Sur district of Diyarbakir city since December. The army partially lifted a curfew in Sinopli on Tuesday.
Amnesty said military operations in these areas "have been characterized by abusive use of force, including firing heavy weaponry in residential neighborhoods.”
Turkish police and military are especially fighting the PKK's youth branch, YDG-H, which the government says has dug trenches and erected barricades in urban areas.
Turkish riot police use tear gas to disperse people protesting a curfew in the Sur district of Diyarbakir Province,Jan. 17, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Amnesty said, "Security measures, including those aimed at arresting suspected members of YDG-H, must adhere to Turkey's obligations under international human rights law."
The group quoted data from the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV), saying 162 people have been killed during the curfews since August 2015, including 29 women, 32 children and 24 people over 60.
The curfews, Amnesty said, have left residents without access to emergency health care, food, water and electricity for extended periods.
John Dalhuisen, Amnesty’s Europe and Central Asia Program director, said Turkish authorities have faced “very little” criticism from the international community for their actions.
“Strategic considerations... must not overshadow allegations of gross human rights violations. The international community must not look the other way,” he said.
A man stands in the room of a house after it was hit by a mortar shell in the Sur district of Diyarbakir Province, Jan. 3, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
The operations began in the wake of a July bombing by Daesh in the southern Turkish town of Suruc in which more than 30 people were killed.
PKK militants have accused the Turkish government of supporting Daesh and carried out a series of attacks against police and security forces, prompting the government's current operations.