Former co-chair of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) has claimed that some 120 people were burned to death in the basements of houses in the Cizre district of the southeastern province of Cizre in 2015.
Selahattin Demirtaş, who has been in jail since Nov. 4, 2016, said that the people were besieged in basements during the weeks-long curfews imposed as part of the military operations carried out against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the country's southeastern provinces.
"For how long this country will hide the atrocities that unfolded in Cizre basements?" Demirtaş asked the court during a hearing of one of the many cases that he is being tried.
"The trials of the case into those events haven't started yet. I was sued over insulting the president and the prime minister for saying, 'You are child murderers, civilians were burned in basements.' We will present our evidence more extensively in that case," he said.Kurdish women who wanted to help the injured during Cizre curfews fined
Demirtaş faces dozens of years in prison on charges related to the PKK.
HDP lawmakers and members are often accused of being supporters of the PKK – a group designated as a terrorist organization by Ankara, Washington and the European Union.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in July that Demirtaş’s rights were violated, while calling for his release – a call quickly dismissed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).400,000 displaced during clashes between army, PKK in 2015-2016: Chamber
During the hearing, Demirtaş said while there were armed individuals in small numbers in the basements, those who were burned to death were mostly unarmed.
"I don't know the exact number, but nearly 120 unarmed individuals were confined to the basements of two buildings via narrowing down the operation area," Demirtaş also said, adding that at the end all of them were burned alive.
"I went there and saw it with my own eyes. I saw their ashes. We couldn't even determine the exact number of people killed since their identities couldn't be determined from their DNA. Some of them were buried in the cemetery of the nameless," he said.HDP calls on parliament to investigate rights violations during Şırnak curfews
Saying that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government committed a massacre in Cizre, Demirtaş noted that people could have been unharmed if dialogue was established.
"The AKP committed a massacre there. Civilians were killed. Babies and children were killed," he said.