Middle East

UN report: Turkey guilty of ‘serious’ abuses in Kurdish region

The UN's human rights office released a report on Friday accusing Ankara of serious human rights violations during operations targeting Kurdish militants. The report comes after a security crackdown in the wake of a failed coup attempt.

The report, which based its findings on "remote monitoring," focused on "massive destruction, killings and numerous other serious human rights violations committed between July 2015 and December 2016 in southeast Turkey" that targeted some 2,000 people – including 1,200 local residents and 800 security personnel.

Most of the people displaced as a result of the security sweep have been Kurds, the UN said. Fighting between the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and the Turkish government has been ongoing since a truce initially agreed upon in 2013 fell apart two years later.

Satellite images taken of impacted areas show "an enormous scale of destruction of the housing stock by heavy weaponry," the report said. Residents of Cizre, a mostly Kurdish town near the Syrian border, described the destruction as "apocalyptic."

The UN's report urged the Turkish government to investigate the matter so that the "perpetrators of unlawful killings are brought to justice." It also called for an end to "unannounced, open-ended 24-hour curfew," and for "effective reparations for victims and family members" whose human rights have been violated.

The publication of the report comes as the country gears up for an April referendum in which Turks will vote on whether to expand the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

UN rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein had stern words for the president, saying he was "particularly concerned by reports that no credible investigation has been conducted into hundreds of alleged unlawful killings."

The report also cast a spotlight on Erdogan's broad crackdowns following the failed coup attempt in July, which the UN said had led to further violence in the southeast.

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