Turkey’s military and police forces have killed hundreds of people during operations against Kurdish rebels in southeastern Turkey, the UN said on Friday in a report that listed summary killings, torture, rape and widespread destruction of property among an array of human rights abuses.
The report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights detailed how operations by Turkish infantry, artillery, tanks and possibly aircraft drove up to 500,000 people from their homes over a 17-month period from July 2015 to the end of last year.
Although the report was focused on the conduct of security forces in southeastern Turkey, the 25-page document underscores the deepening alarm of the UN over the measures ordered by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan since a failed coup attempt in July last year.
The state of emergency Erdogan imposed after the coup attempt appeared to “target criticism, not terrorism,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said on Tuesday.
The Turkish government refused to comment on the report.
The report said measures taken by the government in the southeast since the failed coup attempt — including arrests of lawmakers, mass dismissals of officials and the closing of Kurdish-language media — had been aimed at suppressing dissent in general and opposition parties in particular.
Al-Hussein said he was “particularly concerned by reports that no credible investigation has been conducted into hundreds of alleged unlawful killings, including women and children.”
He called for an independent probe without restrictions, saying that his investigators had been denied access to the Kurdish areas.
The report said that about 2,000 people had died in security operations in the southeast, citing information provided by the government.
That included close to 800 members of the security forces and 1,200 others, who the report said “may or may not” have been involved in violent action against the government.
Turkish authorities were acting in a difficult security environment, the report acknowledged, citing attacks, killings and kidnappings by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
Nevertheless, by compiling information from interviews with victims and their relatives and by using satellite imagery, UN investigators verified a variety of abuses by the security forces, among them extrajudicial killings, disappearances, torture, violence against women and the prevention of access to medical care, food and water.
The Netherlands yesterday banned Turkey’s foreign minister from flying to Rotterdam as a dispute over Ankara’s campaigning among emigre Turks in support of new powers for Erdogan spread through Europe.
The announcement came hours after Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the Netherlands was treating Turkish citizens like hostages by hindering their contact with Ankara.
The Dutch government cited public order and security concerns in withdrawing landing rights for Cavusoglu’s flight.
Erdogan branded the Netherlands “Nazi remnants, fascists” after the announcement.
Cavusoglu had been scheduled to fly to Rotterdam to marshal support among the Turkish community for expanded powers for Erdogan — a potentially divisive issue in Turkey, where a referendum will take place next month.
Cavusoglu said he would fly anyway.
“What damage will my going have on them? I am a foreign minister and I can go wherever I want,” he told CNN Turk.
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