Translated from Turkish by Translators for justice
February 1st, 2016
HDP MPs on a hunger strike for the wounded in Cizre have shared audio recordings of their last communication with those victims. In the audio, it can be heard that the ambulances take off to get the wounded. After a short while, however, just as the ambulances are about to reach their destination, gunshots and screams from the basement are heard and contact is lost.
HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) Group Deputy Co-Chair İdris Baluken and MPs Osman Baydemir and Meral Danış Beştaş, on a hunger strike in the Turkish parliament protesting the atrocities going on in Cizre for 10 days, have called a press conference to share the audio recordings of their last communication with the wounded just before contact was lost. The recordings were also forwarded to government authorities.
“Ready to forward the recordings to the attorney general”
Baluken, the first to speak during the conference, stated that they had lost contact with the wounded in Cizre for hours. “We are ready to forward the full recording to the attorney general to follow up on the case. The government must relieve us of all doubts and worries as soon as possible. No government can possibly account for failing to open up a corridor for life. The government must immediately stop this irresponsible behavior and make sure those fighting for their lives are transported to hospitals,” he continued.
After him, Meral Danış Beştaş commented on the audio recordings: “We apologize to the wounded and their families first, and then to the whole public for having to broadcast these audio recordings. We would never consider sharing it. But we couldn’t touch base with the people in that basement of horrors for 48 hours. We had also explained this when starting on the hunger strike. We have only one demand: give the bodies of the dead to their families and bring the wounded to hospitals. We share these audio recordings for one reason only: if the wounded are still alive, to help secure their right to life through the recordings.
Sounds of horror on the other end of the line
On January 29, when a Center for Crisis Coordination was set up together with the Ministries of Health and of the Interior were the closest they could come to rescuing the wounded, Beştaş shared the audio recordings of the communication with the wounded people.
The phone conversations on January 29 between DBP (Democratic Regions Party) Assembly Member Mehmet Yavuzer and Meral Danış Beştaş, at a time when an ambulance was on its way, have been documented in 4 different audio recordings:
Beştaş: We are tracking the ambulance right now. It’s on its way, once there we’ll call you.
Yavuzer: We don’t hear anything. For your information, no sound heard.
In the second conversation, Beştaş says to the wounded person on the other end: “We’ve talked to the Ministry just now. Each of us is on a phone. You get ready, they have arrived now, but you will go out only when we give you the call.”
In the 3rd call following this, there is the Beştaş and Yavuzer conversation:
Beştaş: We no longer hear the police. They must be there, in the hallway. Right before the door you’ll be leaving from.
Yavuzer: Yes, they are inside. They possibly hear your voice, as well. Is the Minister of the Interior with you?
Beştaş: Right now on the phone…
Right at that moment, in the 26th second of the call, an explosion and gun shots and loud screams are heard from the other end of the line and contact is lost. At the same time, it becomes clear from the voices heard that guns were aimed at the point where the wounded were.
And this is the conversation shared in the last recording:
The voice on the other end: I am listening, my ears are bad.
Beştaş: You can hear me?
Beştaş: If you don’t think you can make it out of there we should seek another way.
Voice: We’re under the wreckage. What else need I say?
Beştaş: OK, I see, you can’t get out of there then.
Voice: We’re under the wreckage. Wreckage!
Beştaş: OK, let’s keep the line on.
After this talk, contact with the wounded was lost, no further communication was possible, and so far their condition remains unknown. On the other hand, it was explained that the full conversations of that day were recorded, but not completely shared with the public due to their sensitive nature.
“Awaiting a response from the government”
HDP Urfa MP Osman Baydemir, speaking after the recordings were played, said that they had only one demand in the hunger strike going on for 6 days: “We face the foulest and darkest atrocities in our history. All wars are ruthless, but this one is the ugliest throughout our history. On what grounds was this armed operation carried out in the building just at the time when transport was arranged as a result of the joint efforts of our team, the Ministry, and the local government, just at a time when the wounded were expected to be brought to the ambulance? Who organized this operation when it was a matter of minutes for the wounded to leave the building? Which unit, which team did this? From whom did they receive their orders? What is the current condition of these people, the people neither we nor those in Cizre have had any contact with for the last 49 hours and 4 minutes, the people who we named one by one for the record, the people who were alive until Saturday, 12:31 PM? Are they still alive? Did something else happen? We are awaiting a response.”
“Even wars have their ethics”
Demanding a response from the command center for the military operation in Cizre, “If [military operation] is coordinated by the Prime Ministry, Ministry of the Interior, and Provincial Governments, who sabotaged all our work like this, and why?” Baydemir continued, “In Cizre, as well as in Şırnak, from who do the Provincial and District Governors take their orders for these operations? If from the Ministry of the Interior, then how come we have faced such a situation just as the work of evacuation was under way?”
This war, Baydemir stressed, which was waged against people, against all human values, was also aimed at leaving the truth in the dark. But the HDP, he added, would not allow the truth to be butchered. He asked, “How longer will you continue committing crimes against humanity?” Baydemir went on: “War brings conflict, pain, and tears, but even wars have their ethics. Those who gave the orders for these massacres, do you seriously believe that you will have impunity forever? Don’t you know that sooner or later you will be brought to justice and then, you, too, will be abandoned?”
Hunger strike to continue on a rotating basis
Baydemir said, under no circumstances shall they give in to this atrociousness: “We shall make every effort to bring those responsible to justice, both in people’s consciences and before the courts. I call to all parties who consider themselves human not to keep quiet in the face of these atrocities.”
Following the statements, Baluken answered questions from the press noting that they have made the decision to continue the hunger strike on a rotating basis until a resolution is reached.