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Kurdish villagers returning after the forcible depopulations of 90s face yet more repressive restrictions on their lives

01.07.2021
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Kurdish villagers, who suffered so much during the forced evacuations and burnings of their villages back in 1990s in eastern Turkey, remember the past with the extreme security measures taken today by local military forces making it impossible for them to enter their villages.

7:11 pm 01/07/2021

The evacuation of villages and forced migration was intensified after the 1980 coup in Turkey and especially during 1990s when millions of Kurds were brutally displaced from their villages in SE Turkey by Turkish security forces.

From 2013 to 2015, around the time of the so called ‘peace process’ there began a steady stream of returnees back to their destroyed villages with an optimism and hope for peace. This has continued and over the last few years, many villagers from those burnt and destroyed villages have been returning in the springtime and staying to the end of summer fixing up their homes and enjoying the natural life which is integral to the Kurdish identity.

However, in recent years, due to the never-ending military operations and extreme security measures, the Kurdish villagers, once again, face another form of forced evacuation by the Turkish soldiers.

For the last two years villagers living in Cifanê, Gilindor, Akêt and Nêvava near the eastern city of Şırnak (Şırnex) have been facing countless obstacles and difficulties trying to build a life in their villages due to the repressive impositions of the soldiers controlling the entrances and exits to their villages, MA reports.

The gendarmerie forces have not been allowing access for the residents of Cifanê to enter the village even despite having the official document of permission they received from the Governor’s Office. Villagers have to wait for hours for the soldiers to grant them access to their village, and despite being allowed entry, after such a long time waiting, they are only allowed to stay until the early evening and are forced out of the village as the sun goes down.

Medina Bilik is a villager whose vineyards and gardens in the village have all dried up due to these restrictive impositions.

”We were able to enter the village comfortably say about five years ago. But in recent years, we cannot now even enter our own villages without permission,” she said.

“I go and take care of my fields only once a week. Our vineyards and gardens have dried up due to these restrictions. We have vegetables, fruit trees and gardens in the village. Although we have got permission from the local authorities, the soldiers do not allow us to enter the village,” she added.

Zeynep Tunç is one of those villagers who has been trying to return to her destroyed village, having been forcibly displaced in 1990s.
Tunç believes that with such strict security policies the state is once again seeking to “depopulate” their region.

”For the past two years, soldiers have been controlling the entrances to the village and we have been prevented from accessing our own village. They make us wait at military check points for hours just to give us the permit,” she said.

She stated that military towers have been built on the hills around the village, which is now under a heavy security blockade and under constant survelliance.

“Soldiers keep telling us, ‘you cannot enter the village without permission from the governor’s office’. We have to list the names of all the people who plan to go the village and get permission from the Governor’s office with this list. Even then, when we go to the checkpoint with the permission that we got from the Governor’s Office, they still make us wait for hours and even then, most of the time they still do not let us in,” she said.

“We may live in the cities, but we have been making a life in the village for years. Our vineyards, our gardens, our houses, are in the village. Due to this blockade, our gardens have all but dried up.”

Tunç also shared that as well as these extra-ordinary security measures, trees in and around their village have began to be cut down and forest fires have been increasingly observed.

She believes that these are not coincidental incidents. “They prevent us from entering our villages to perhaps cut our trees more easily. They want to completely evacuate and depopulate our villages with such practices,” she said. “But no matter what they do, we will not give up our lands.”

“We demand to freely enter our villages and that this blockade be ended.”

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