Sirnak residents face ruins as they return after 246-day curfew


After 246 days, the curfew in the Kurdish town of Sirnak is partially lifted from the hours of 05:00-22:00 each day since Monday.

A curfew was declared in the town on March 14, where operations against the urban youth wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Civil Protection Units (YPS) were launched. The YPS waged an armed fight against military forces in the town, with demands of autonomy.

Sirnak, a town with a population of about 290,000 once, is now a town left demolished as a result of the Turkish army’s attacks on the town during operations against the YPS.

The extent of the destruction became evident with the lifting of the curfew, with many homes destroyed and razed to the ground. Displaced locals returning to the town, most of whom had to live in tents and nearby towns, will return only to face with the elimination of their homes.

Alongside many homes, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the Democratic Regions Party (DBP) headquarters in the town are seen to be demolished. Parks and gardens are amongst the destroyed areas in the town, yet these areas had witnessed no clashes during the course of fighting which ended months ago.

In the city centre, there is no living space left behind with the scene of wreckage in Yeşilyurt, Gazipaşa, İsmetpaşa, Cumhuriyet, Aydınlıkevler, Dicle, Bahçelievler and Yeni districts.

The cemeteries in the town have also been dismantled, notably the grave of Haci Lokman Birlik, who was a Kurdish activist and the brother-in-law of jailed HDP Sirnak MP Leyla Birlik and his family. Birlik’s tortured body was dragged on the streets of the town, seen to be tied to an armoured vehicle in the military footage which emerged in October 2015.

People wait in a long queue in the town entrance before trying to find their districts, then their houses in the town which resembles a war-torn one, but it is not Aleppo, it is Şirnex for them, its Kurdish name as called by the Kurds.

As the construction equipment continues the demolition, people are finally able to return to their hometown but regardless of if the town is built again or not, the scars of its people will remain untouched.

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