Witness speaks of Cizre massacre at the international tribunal

A witness spoke about his friends who were burned alive by Turkish soldiers during Cizre massacre in 2016 at the international tribunal in Paris.

In Thursday’s sessions of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on Turkish war crimes against Kurdish people, the massacres in Cizre, Sur and Sirnak were discussed.

At the first session several experts laid the historical, political, economic and cultural framework of the Turkish state’s crimes. Lawyer Jan Fermon pointed out that the crimes against Kurds are committed in the name of the state and called on witnesses to testify in the court.


The first expert to testify at the court was Professor Eric David from Free University in Brussels. David explained if the question in Turkey is an armed conflict or terrorism in aspect of international law. David pointed out the PKK trial in Belgium and said “(At that trial) the accusations against PKK were not evaluated as terrorism and handled as an armed conflict.” David said he sees PKK as an armed group and because of its structure it became a side of the conflict.

“This is a rebellion movement” he said.

David also drew attention to PKK’s political order and its commitment to Geneva Conventions.

The experts also discussed that in a conflict between two sides, the crimes occurred can also be handled as “crimes against humanity” not only “war crimes”.

After a brief video presentation on the massacres in Cizre where 143 were executed by Turkish soldiers, witnesses testified at court.


Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) former Sirnak MP Faysal Sariyildiz said “Grave war crimes, crimes against humanity were committed there. The massacre in Cizre was a planned forced-migration, terrorization and genocide in post-modern terms. According to the information that’s provided to the court, all civil servants were ordered to leave the city before December 14, 2015 and only Kurds were left in the city. 18 of the victims are still not identified and some of the mutilated bodies of the victims were thrown into Tigris river.

Sariyildiz said that today Erdogan massacres people in Afrin and added; “We are facing a full-fledged dictator. He continues to commit war crimes every day”.

Former mayor of Cizre, Leyla Imret also testified at court and said that 20 other people were killed before the massacres in the basements.

After Imret a woman witness who survived the Cizre massacre spoke at the court: “There were 50 people in the basement. 25 of them were wounded. There were children and mothers among us. We were trapped in that house. They (Turkish army) were continuously attacking this house. They encircled the house and hit it with tanks and artillery shells. After that they used pepper spray. It might be a chemical weapon, we couldn’t breathe. And then they throw in bottles filled with fuel oil and set a fire.
It was a construction site, the fire didn’t spread. But 25 were burned. They burned the wounded alive. I was in a corner. I didn’t know what to do, I went upstairs. There were 20 more people there. We called everyone that we could. There was a 16-year-old kid. He called his mother. They said the ambulances would arrive there that night, but that never happened. We were calling people frequently to call for help. I was also wounded. It was not serious. But some of us were suffering serious injuries. We had no medkits. For example, Guler Eroglu lost both of her legs and hands. She could only breathe.
There was continuous shelling. In the morning the ambulances didn’t come again. They couldn’t enter the area because of the shooting by state forces.

After that we were encircled and soldiers opened fire. Everybody was killed. Orhan Tunc was next to me. He was saying, ‘I don’t want to die, I want to see my newborn kid. I survived the massacre miraculously. I threw myself out and hid beneath the trash bin. I remained there for 10 days. When mothers entered the area, I got out of the trash bin and survived.”

Two witnesses of Nusaybin massacre also spoke at the court and told the judges that Turkish state executed civilians.

The tribunal will continue to listen the witnesses of the massacres of Turkish state.

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