Ambulances Halted as Turkey Besieges Kurdish Town


Wounded people are unable to receive treatment due to a round-the-clock curfew in the restive town of Cizre.

Brussels, Belgium - At least 10 civilians injured in clashes have died in southeastern Turkey over the past two weeks because ambulances could not reach them to take them to hospitals. 

The people have either bled to death on the street or in homes, or were admitted to hospitals only after it was too late - and residents fear there will be more deaths in the coming days.

The deaths have occurred since the Turkish government began enforcing a round-the-clock, open-ended curfew on Cizre, a majority-Kurdish town with a population of 120,000. Some have risked going outside to buy daily necessities, while carrying a white flag to show they are not a threat; others have remained holed-up indoors.

The Turkish government says the curfew, which has been in effect since December 14, is necessary in its fight against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), an armed group that the Turkish government labels as "terrorists". Human rights organisations Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused Turkish security forces of using disproportionate violence in clashes with armed, PKK-affiliated young people in Cizre, noting that dozens of civilians have died as a result. 

According to Turkish media, many Cizre residents have fled the violence, and only an estimated 20,000 people remain in the town today.

Turkish MP Faysal Sariyildiz, a member of the pro-Kurdish HDP party, has been spending time in the southeastern town amid the recent crisis. He said that 28 civilians wounded in recent clashes between Turkish security forces and PKK-affiliated youth have been stuck in the basement of a house, waiting in vain for ambulances to take them to hospital.

"Six of the injured ... succumbed to their wounds," Sariyildiz told Al Jazeera in a recent telephone interview. "They are lying in the same two basement rooms where the wounded are waiting for help." 

Turkish authorities will not give permission for ambulances to enter areas of Cizre where operations are ongoing. About two weeks ago, 16-year-old Huseyin Paksoy, who was shot and lost a significant amount of blood, died in a hospital in Cizre after he had waited for medical help for four days. An ambulance was only allowed to pick him up after a Turkish lawyer appealed for an urgent procedure at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which decided that the Turkish authorities could not endanger Paksoy's right to life and physical integrity.

The full article continues at on the Al Jazeera website.