Turkey accused of 'apocalyptic scenes'

Turkey accused of 'apocalyptic scenes'
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, on Friday provided detailed evidence of what they call "massive destruction and serious rights violations," in a new UN report about southeast Turkey.

The report covers the period from July 2015 to December 2016.

The offensive by the Turkish army against the predominantly Kurdish areas, started after the ceasefire with PKK broke down in July 2015.

Between 355,000 and 500,000 people, mainly Kurds, have been internally displaced as a result of the offensive, which has affected over 30 cities and neighborhoods, according to the UN.

Security forces have leveled nearly 1,800 buildings, according to the UN report, which also included satellite imagery of the affected areas.

The report estimates that around 2,000 people, including 800 members of the security forces, have been killed during the period.

UN investigators have not been granted access to the areas, in spite of having tried for eighteen months to get the necessary permissions from Turkish authorities.

Therefore the report is based on witness descriptions and other sources, as well as images.

The UN documents reveal several thousand murders, disappearances and cases of torture, as well as other human rights violations. The worst abuse allegedly took place during periods of curfew. In Cizre, a town on the border with Syria, with a population of mainly Kurds, residents have described the scenes and the destruction of residential areas as "apocalyptic" to the UN.

At the beginning of 2016, almost 200 of the city's residents, many of them children, were trapped for weeks in cellars.

- They were without water, food, medical care or electricity, before they were killed by fires, triggered by grenades, the report said.

Accusations against Erdogan

The accusations come at a vulnerable time for Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He and the government are campaigning ahead of a controversial referendum in April, where the Turks will vote on whether Erdogan will get expanded power.

UN Human Rights chief Zeid Raad Al Hussein, criticizes Erdogan's government directly. He says he is particularly concerned about reports that no investigations have been carried out after hundreds of alleged extrajudicial killings.

- I am particularly concerned by reports that no credible investigation has been conducted into hundreds of alleged unlawful killings, including women and children over a period of 13 months between late July 2015 and the end of August of 2016. It appears that not a single suspect was apprehended and not a single individual was prosecuted, says Zeid said in a statement Friday.

The banned Kurdistan Workers' Party, PKK, has led an armed rebellion against the Turkish government since 1984. A ceasefire was introduced in 2013, but fighting resumed two years later.

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