‘We want a massacre’: Turkish-Kurdish tensions escalate as election looms

Der Spiegel reports: Cemile just wanted to get some fresh air and escape the feeling of confinement that the curfew in Cizre had brought with it. It was shortly after 8 p.m. on Sept. 4. Darkness had fallen over the city in southeastern Turkey. In the distance, Cemile could see the fire in the mountains. The soldiers were burning down the forests to destroy the Kurdish fighters’ hiding spots. “But don’t go on the street!” Ramazan Cagirga, her father, called out.

Outside, as is so often the case these days, shots could be heard. Suddenly a loud noise could be heard nearby. Cemile — 12 years old, long hair, brown eyes, with pearl earrings — collapsed on the spot. A gunshot had traveled through the wooden gate to the front yard and killed the girl. Eyewitnesses report it coming from an armored vehicle.

“We hoped Cemile would survive,” her father says. “We carried her into the house, but there was nothing we could do.” He then tried to organize an ambulance to pick up the body. But nobody came, because of the gunshots and the curfew. During the day, temperatures reached over 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), so they cleared out the freezer, wrapped the body in cellophane and froze it. The girl’s body spent three days there before a car finally came to take her to the hospital in the neighboring city of Sirnak. Cemile’s family buried her on Friday.

The family had already lost relatives in an attack by Turkish security forces once before. In 1992, a grandfather, sister, aunts and uncles of Ramazan Cagirga died — seven people in total. The house — the same home where Cemile died this month — had been shot at.

It’s not just the deaths in the Cagirgas household that seem to be repeating themselves. Between 1984 and 2013, 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, died in Turkey’s bloody civil war. Now both sides are ramping things up once again, with attacks by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), assaults by the Turkish army, a state of emergency, restrictions on news coverage and a general climate of fear and violence. [Continue reading…]

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