For the last eight days, we have been making every effort to have our dead and seriously wounded citizens who are trapped in the basement of an apartment building in Cizre—among them many dead and seriously wounded—transferred to hospital. Our efforts to clear what that is being called the “basement of savagery” (vahşet bodrumu) have continued again today without interruption from 7 am until 3 pm.
The medical teams and the municipality ambulance waiting ready at the Cizre municipality set out at around 09:30 am this morning for the building where the wounded are, after the required assurances were granted by the Crisis Coordination Desk formed under the coordination of the Prime Ministry, the Ministry of Interior, and the Ministry of Health. At our request, Ministry of Health ambulances joined the municipality ambulance on the way to the building. We became aware that the ambulances and the medical teams would only have permission to approach to a point around 150-200 meters away from the exit through which they could carry the wounded and the bodies of the dead. As the ambulances were on route, we maintained uninterrupted phone connections with both the Crisis Coordination Desk and with the wounded in the basement.
After the ambulances reached the arrival point, the Crisis Coordination Desk in the Ministry of Health informed us that consent would be conveyed within 15 minutes, and the wounded would be taken by the ambulances if they left the basement. During the time we were waiting for this consent, we maintained constant phone contact with the wounded in the basement. Before any consent was given by the Crisis Coordination Desk, and after a delay of half an hour, we heard sounds of explosions and gunfire over the telephone connection. At this moment, we heard the wounded screaming “We are being fired at, bombs have been thrown inside. They will kill us. Help us. What are they saying?” We were able to make an audio recording of these moments. We also allowed the state authorities to listen to these explosions and cries for help.
Although the authorities stated that the necessary humanitarian interventions would be made immediately, no progress was made during the time we were in phone contact with the wounded. After the initial attack, we could only make two phone calls to the wounded with time intervals in between. During these communications, the wounded stated that they were trapped under rubble, could barely breathe or move, and would be unable to leave the building without assistance. They also told us that one of their number had now died. After this last call, we lost phone contact with the wounded altogether.
From that moment until now, our channels of communication with the wounded have been closed. The authorities from the Crisis Coordination Desk, who we informed of these developments, claimed that there was no military intervention at the building in question, and therefore no possibility of any rubble, and that the wounded should make efforts to leave the building of their own accord.
Following these events, we made numerous phone calls to the Prime Ministry, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Crisis Coordination Desk to express our serious concerns for the lives of all the wounded and to suggest that the now trapped wounded needed to be retrieved from outside by rescue teams. Despite our insistence, we were told by the Crisis Coordination Desk that no rescue or medical teams would be allowed to go to the location and that this was anyway impossible. Our request for two municipality staff and two paramedics to confirm our information and administer first aid to the wounded was rejected at first by the authorities. After appealing to the Ministry of Interior, our request was accepted and two municipality staff and two paramedics waiting ready at the Cizre municipality left for the basement. Yet, due to a sudden increase in the sounds of explosions and gunfire at the location, the Ministry of Health and the district governor of Cizre told us that they could not guarantee the security of their people, and this initiative also failed. The authorities insisted that they could not request security forces in the vicinity to cease fire, and that the only access route for the municipality staff and paramedics would be through the line of fire. Due to continuing gunfire, the ambulances of the Ministry Health and the Cizre Municipality as well as the medical teams had to withdraw around 3 pm.
The names of the wounded are known to the Government and have been released to the public. We wish to make it clear that, according to universal norms, international law, and the judgement of history, the AKP state will carry the ultimate responsibility in the event that these wounded citizens lose their lives.
As of today, it seems that those who should be rushing the wounded hospital are trying to legitimize executions in order to avoid this responsibility. For this reason, we are making this urgent call to national and international public opinion to raise awareness of the situation, and ask everyone to stand on the side of life and humanity in face of this twenty-first century savagery.
We, on the fourth day of our hunger strike, resolve to continue our struggle for the safe transfer of the wounded people in the basement of savagery.
İdris Baluken, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Parliamentary Group Deputy Chair
Meral Danış Beştaş, Peoples’ Democratic Party Adana Deputy
Osman Baydemir, Peoples’ Democratic Party Urfa Deputy