Hacı Bişkin / Duvar

Turkish authorities have fined 11 women for “violating” curfews which were imposed on the predominantly Kurdish southeastern town of Cizre in Şırnak province in 2016. The fines ranged from 3,000 Turkish Liras ($508) to 7,000 liras ($1,185).

The women, risking their lives, had gone out on the streets holding white flags, in an attempt to help the injured trapped in basements of apartments for nine days since taking shelter from fighting between Turkish security forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

With the mid-2015 collapse of peace talks between the Turkish state and the PKK, more curfews than any other time in modern Turkish state’s history were announced, leading to civilian killings and destruction of thousands of homes.

Various reports later gathered evidence of multiple human rights violations in Cizre. For weeks, politicians from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and NGOs tried to negotiate access for ambulances and an evacuation from the basements. But, on the day that medical help was meant to arrive, the basements were stormed by security forces, leading to the death of several people.

Before the basement siege unfolded, the 11 women in question one day went out to the street to help the injured. Holding white flags not to be targeted by army snipers, the women walked from the Cizre municipality to the Cudi neighborhood. When they reached the Nusaybin Street, they were detained by the security forces and taken to the police station, where a legal action was initiated.

Four years later, the government imposed fines on the women for “violating” the curfew. One of the 11 women was Lütfiye Duymak, whose husband Mahmut Duymak was among the killed in the “basement massacre,” as it is known among Cizre residents.

Lütfiye Duymak, mother of five, has been ordered to pay 5,861 liras ($993) to the state. Duymak became aware of this fine only when a lawyer notified her last week that a lien was imposed on the land which she had inherited from her deceased husband.

Lütfiye Duymak (R) and her deceased husband Mahmut Duymak are seen.

Duymak said that she cannot associate “justice” in anyway with what happened to her. “I have gone up there [to the basements] to stop the war, and now the state is fining me. Where is justice in this? I am expecting an answer for this. How much longer will the state act so? We wanted to stop the war and maintain the peace. But instead of this, the state gave me five kilograms of bones and told me, ‘Take this; this is your husband.’ I will follow up on this and bring those who made us go through this to account,” she said.