Concerns over security and residents' well-being in the troubled town of Cizre in Turkey's southeastern Sirnak Province have reached a high point after armed militants and members of the youth branch of the outlawed PKK infiltrated some parts of the city and started engaging in clashes with security forces, putting the life of civilians in danger.
Minister of Interior Affairs, Selami Altinok, said on Thursday that health workers are under threat in Cizre. He emphasised that health workers are targets of systematic attacks by the PKK and confirmed that nine civilians have lost their lives in such attacks in Cizre, where a curfew was put in effect by the government on Sept. 4.
The PKK is recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the EU, the US and NATO.
State officials have said that the governorate allows certain bakeries and grocery stores to be open at predetermined times to assist residents.
Reports coming from local sources confirm that government employees in Cizre, as well as Kurdish residents who do not support the PKK, have been hiding in their homes.
Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu also made a statement on Thursday underlining that there is no problem connected to essential medical equipment for supplying health services to the district affected by PKK “terror,” but there is currently “a lack of a secure environment,” in Cizre.
In comments concerning to the prevention of health services in areas under terror threat by the PKK and its affiliated branches, the minister said all health workers are responsible for serving and treating people, even “if it is a terrorist that killed a soldier an hour ago."
“Unfortunately for them [the PKK], there is no consideration to provide health services to people in need in a war environment," said the minister.
"They hold an inhumane stance. They force our health workers to treat the injured people without sending them to hospitals. They take pictures of workers and threaten the workers to keep quiet."
Muezzinoglu also stated that ambulances are being attacked with gunfire if they attempt to enter the district to pick up injured soldiers or police officers and health personnel are threatened and told not to treat them.
According to the ministry, three health sector workers - including a doctor, a pharmacist and a health official - have been killed in recent PKK terror attacks, while 13 workers were taken hostage by the militant group.
Militants refuse to surrender
Meanwhile, former BDP Cizre District head Mehmet Tunc was featured live on a pro-PKK television channel broadcasting from Germany.
Mehmet Tunc started crying during a phone call, and was immediately cut off by the TV channel, as he pleaded and asked all PKK affiliated groups for help.
“Our strength has come to its breaking point. With the mortars, cannons, bombs they are firing, the circle around us is getting narrower every hour," he said.
"We have about 100-200 young people with us currently. This point on, will they have them surrender?.. They do not want to surrender. They will resist and we too, along with Cizre [DRP] co-chairs, resist as well.”
Demirtas blames security forces
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair, Selahattin Demirtas, has blamed Turkish security forces for the Cizre clashes, instead of the PKK terrorists who have been digging trenches with municipality vehicles and have also cut all internet and phone lines to the city in preparation for a battle.
Speaking to Vice News, Cizre District Mayor Leyla Imret, who had previously said, “I can say we are mobilized in Cizre for a civil war in Turkey. The civil war will begin in Cizre.”
Imret belongs to the Democratic Regions Party (DRP), which is closely affiliated with the HDP, as well as the Group of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK), which serves as an umbrella organization for all pro-PKK groups.
On July 25, the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H), which is the youth wing of the PKK, called for an uprising on its Twitter account, saying, “From tomorrow on, we call all of our security forces to take action against the fascist and killer mentality.”
The KCK ended a two and a half year old ceasefire with Turkey on July 11. Since then over 110 security officers and over 20 civilians have been killed in PKK terror attacks.
The local residents of Cizre who do not support the PKK are being severely affected by the clashes, as their lives are under threat alongside those health workers. It appears that they have been dragged into a conflict that they want no part in.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said there will be “no concessions to those that threaten public order,” and fighting with PKK terrorists will continue until they surrender their arms.
A march organised by the HDP and led by its co-chair Demirtas to Cizre that began on Wednesday, was stopped and turned back by security forces over safety concerns.
Minister Altinok said, “the group will not be allowed into Cizre for their own safety.”
Upon the intervention, the HDP group decided to return to Idil, another district in Sirnak Province that neighbours Cizre.