Displaced Villagers Unwilling to Return for Fear of More Clashes

SEMDINLI BIANET 12.8.2012 – The Governor’s Office in the southeastern province of Hakkari announced the end of some of the most fierce clashes in recent times between government forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK,) but villagers displaced by the conflict are unwilling to return back to their homes for fear of more violence to come. he Governor’s Office in the southeastern province of Hakkari announced the conclusion of the millitary operations against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the district of Şemdinli on Saturday, some 20 days after clashes first broke out in the area.

The military operations against PKK militants conducting road checks in the villages of Bağlar and Rüzgarlı over the Şemdinli-Derecik highway began on July 23 and kept going for another 19 days with additional air support. The governor’s office issued a written statement claiming the PKK had failed to reach its goals and that large numbers of militants had died in the clashes. Locals continue leading their lives as usual, and the district governor’s office has met some of their most imperative needs, the statement further claimed.

Many locals had abandoned their homes and left for the safety of nearby villages or their relatives in downtown Şemdinli during the clashes. Officials provided no explanation regarding the conflict and merely said two specialist sergeants and large numbers of PKK militants had been killed.

Displaced villagers unwilling to return

“Access through the Derecik road is still partly restricted, [authorities] conduct identity checks before they let people through. Members of press have again been denied permission [to acces the area,] too. We met with the locals in the Aşağı Yiğitler village with the district governor yesterday. The villagers said they were not going to return due to the possibility of a fresh military operation and further aerial strikes. Some 150-200 people used to reside in the village. They only briefly returned back to their village to take winter provisions and then left again,” Azer Demir, a reporter for the Ş, told bianet.

“The funeral of a PKK member was found during an examination near the village and brought to downtown Şemdinli. There are no other funerals of PKK members beyond this one. The shops were a bit more alive today, but the expectation is for the operations to end in their entirety and for a peaceful [Ramadan] holiday to ensue,” he added. (NV)