Claim: Turkish army reduces town to ruins

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Claim: Turkish army reduces town to ruins

2016-12-23 07:38 GMT
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Middle East Eye article neglects relevant background information regarding security operations

The town of Sirnak, a center of recent security operations

On 20 December 2016, Middle East Eye published an article entitled ‘How the Turkish army and Kurdish fighters reduced this town to ruins.’ The article, written by Alex MacDonald and Murat Bayram, neglects to provide relevant background information when discussing the consequences of security operations aimed at ending violence in Turkey’s south-east.

The article begins by stating that the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H), the youth wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), erected barricades, took up arms and declared autonomy from the Turkish state and that in response the state conducted a 82-day security operation. However, the article overlooks the fact that the latest upsurge of violence began with the annulment of the PKK’s ceasefire on 11 July 2015.1 Bese Hozat, a leading PKK member, similarly wrote in the PKK-aligned Ozgur Gundem newspaper on 15 July 2015 that the present political situation in Turkey necessitated a "revolutionary public war."2 The pro-PKK Peoples' Democratic Party controlled municipalities declared autonomy from the state,3 upon which the PKK, assisted by the municipalities,4 began to dig trenches, erected barricades and booby-trapped buildings in preparation for a confrontation with security forces.

All of these activities resulted in the severe damage of infrastructure, which the Turkish government has sought to alleviate with offers of financial compensation to homeowners.5 It is notable that security forces took measures to establish a corridor to safely extract civilians during security operations.6 However, it was reported that the PKK did not permit civilians to leave security zones.7

The PKK is an Marxist-Leninist organisation that has been conducting an armed campaign against the Turkish state since 1984. It is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and EU.