Locals flee conflict-hit southeastern town as curfew lifted

Locals flee conflict-hit southeastern town as curfew lifted

Ankara, February 3, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

Locals in the town of Sur in southeastern Diyarbakır province began to flee their houses on Feb. 3, after a months-long curfew was lifted in nine neighborhoods, where clashes between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish security forces have been ongoing.

People left Sur with suitcases, televisions and carpets loaded onto the back of pick-up trucks and handcarts, deserting an area heavily damaged by fighting since the curfew was declared, Reuters reported.

“It’s always the ordinary people who suffer,” said Mehmet Ceylan, 45, carrying a bundle on his back. “I’ve lived in Sur for years, and I’ve never witnessed a scene like this.”

Hundreds of PKK militants and security force personnel have been killed since July 2015, when a de facto cease-fire collapsed, triggering violence and wrecking hopes for a peace deal amid the conflict.

The chief district administrator’s office in Sur, encircled by UNESCO-listed Roman-era walls, on Feb. 3 declared the lifting of the curfew in nine neighborhoods in the western part of Sur. However, the eastern side remained under round-the-clock curfew.

The state says the curfews, which have also been in effect in other southeastern towns, were imposed so police could remove barricades, explosive devices and ditches set up by the PKK, deemed a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union.

Source: The Journal of Turkish Weekly