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'Major Cover-Up': Turkey Blocks Probe Into Allegations of Mass Abuses

© AFP 2021Woman walk next to ruined houses and shops on March 8, 2016 during International Women's day in Cizre district. Residents of Cizre in southeastern Turkey began returning home Wednesday after authorities partially lifted a curfew in place since December for a controversial operation against Kurdish rebels which left many homes destroyed.
Woman walk next to ruined houses and shops on March 8, 2016 during International Women's day in Cizre district. Residents of Cizre in southeastern Turkey began returning home Wednesday after authorities partially lifted a curfew in place since December for a controversial operation against Kurdish rebels which left many homes destroyed. - Sputnik International
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As international human rights organizations attempt to investigate allegations of mistreatment of Kurdish communities by the Turkish government in the country’s southeast, Ankara refuses to cooperate.

Violence has engulfed southeastern Turkey since a ceasefire between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) ended two years ago. Most recently, ten PKK fighters were killed in airstrikes carried out on Friday in the province of Hakkari.

Turkish soldiers patrol in Sur district, which is partially under curfew, in the Kurdish-dominated southeastern city of Diyarbakir - Sputnik International
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Thousands of civilians have been killed in the process. The exact number is unknown, but human rights groups are attempting to tally the dead. The Turkish government, however, appears to be standing in the way.

"The Turkish government is blocking access for independent investigations into alleged mass abuses against civilians across southeast Turkey," Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement released on Monday.

"The alleged abuses include unlawful killings of civilians, mass forced civilian displacement, and widespread unlawful destruction of private property."

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According to HRWs own numbers, at least 338 civilians have been killed during the clashes.

While Ankara denies that it has targeted civilians, HRW claims that there is reason to believe otherwise, and is demanding the government allow a comprehensive investigation.

'The Turkish government’s effective blockade of areas of the southeast fuels concerns of a major cover-up," Emma Sinclair-Webb, senior Turkey researcher with HRW, said as part of the statement.

"The Turkish government should give the UN and nongovernmental groups immediate access to the area to document what’s going on there."

Beginning in the summer of 2015, Ankara imposed several round-the-clock curfews, preventing civilians from fleeing regions where the military operations took place, particularly in the city of Cizre.

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"In April, the police blocked Human Rights Watch from interviewing families of victims and witnesses to the deaths. Before authorities obstructed its work, however, Human Rights Watch was able to document in detail eight civilian deaths in Cizre," the statement reads.

"In addition, Human Rights Watch had already documented eight deaths that occurred in September 2015, also during a curfew and security operations."

On June 8, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that the country’s security services had killed some 7,600 PKK members, since July 2015.

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