Boy dies in street clashes in Turkish-Syrian border town amid fears of escalating violence

Cizre has seen a number of small street protest spiral quickly out of authorities - and rival protesters - control

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The death of a 12-year-old boy in Cizre, close to the Turkish-Syrian border, last week is one of a number of violent incidents in recent weeks that has sparked fears of a "war" on the streets of the town.

Tensions have been rising in the majority-Kurdish Cizre in south-east Turkey since the end of December, when street clashes erupted.

The cause of the unrest - with Nihat Kazanhan, 12, being one of a number of people to die in the last three weeks - is violence between Turkish security forces, sympathisers of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a militant group that has waged a three-decade insurgency in pursuit of autonomy for Turkey's Kurds, and rival Islamist Kurds.

There are differing reports of the number of dead since December. It is at least six; with some reports stating it could be more. Nihat was said to have been playing on a sandy hill next to a connecting road when he was killed.

Witnesses said Nihat was shot, later dying from a head wound in hospital, and that police were in the area at the time. Some reports said that a preliminary autopsy had discovered that Nihat had been killed by an "unknown plastic object" - although the circumstances surrounding the death are still not known. Thousands attended the funeral for Nihat.

The Interior Minister, Efkan Ala, said that police had not fired guns or tear gas.

The death is another knock to the fragile peace process between the Turkish state and the outlawed PKK, with peace having been under discussion for two years for two years.

A youth group connected to the PKK, the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement, or YDG-H, that controls at least two of the neighbourhoods in the town, has clashed with Turkish security forces and police.

Another group, Hüda-Par, an Islamist party, has also clashed with the YDG-H, with members of the HDP, or Peoples' Democratic Party, a pro-Kurdish party, sent to the town to try to calm the situation.

Faysal Sariyildiz, a member of the HDP, blamed "dark powers" for not wanting the peace process to succeed, saying that it is the state's responsibility to ensure peace and security.

The walls of the neighbourhoods controlled by the YDG-H are scrawled with PKK slogans, with the group making the streets virtually inaccessible to police and security forces. During the day it is relatively quiet, but at night there are invariably clashes or other issues.

On Saturday, there were reports of a rocket hitting a government building in the town, the source unknown, and under investigation.

In one of the two YDG-H tents, Botan sits around a smoky wood stove with some 20 comrades, drinking tea and singing battle songs. He didn't want to call the circumstances in  a "war", but he soon might not have a choice.

"If the state doesn't come to it's senses, this will degenerate into civil war. We have weapons. Why not, if a Kalashnikov is considered the same sort of weapon as a Molotov cocktail?"

Comments