Silvan locals return to a town in ruins as 12-day curfew ends

Tragedy and devastation followed the lifting of a 12-day curfew in Silvan, where intense clashes left some homes severely damaged and others entirely destroyed.
Minutes after the curfew was lifted at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, hundreds of people who were displaced and blocked from entering the towns of Konak, Tekel and Mescit for nearly two weeks came rushing back to their neighborhoods to see what remained of their homes.
Intense combat beginning Nov. 3 between security forces and the Patriotic Revolutionist Youth Movement (YDG-H) — an affiliate of terrorist organization the Kurdistan Workersand’ Party (PKK) — forced hundreds of families to flee their homes in the curfew zone. This latest curfew was the sixth time Silvan has been effectively paralyzed in the past three months, and it is not expected to be the last. Curfews like these have become the norm in the predominately Kurdish-populated southeastern region of Turkey, where the areas of Cizre and Nusaybin are currently under lockdown.
Residents faced a paralyzing scene on returning to their neighborhoods, some finding their homes were no longer suitable to be lived in. Smoke continued to rise in pockets throughout Mescit most of the windows were shattered and entire walls were riddled with bullet holes. Local markets and teahouses were burned down and vehicles overturned. The curfew was filled with days without water or electricity.
Feeling helpless, Erdal andOzkan said, and”Iand’m going to take a tent and live somewhere where there is no city, where there is no government.and”
A father of four, andOzkan returned to his ravaged home within minutes of the curfew being lifted. The metal door to his building had been broken. He left his home with a mattress and a blanket and, like many of his fellow neighbors, was left no other option than to stay at friendsand’ homes in another neighborhood. In andOzkanand’s case, it was not rockets or bullets that ruined his home, but the work of humans tearing it apart from the inside. Windows were broken, rugs thrown aside, doors torn down, mirrors shattered and cabinets knocked over, for what reason, and”I do not know,and” andOzkan says.
Fuming with anger and frustration, andOzkan added: and”Iand’m a laborer but there is no work left. I am in debt. We have been living like this for three months. What did we do to deserve this? We didnand’t do anything.and”
Down the street, 60-year-old Abdullah Eni guided Todayand’s Zaman to the top floor of his apartment building that was burnt crisp by rocket launchers. Among the ruins, Eni explained, and”We left like this,and” gesturing that it was only with the clothes on his back, nothing in hand. and”We didnand’t take anything with us.and” While andOzkanand’s home was still in livable condition, Eniand’s was entirely destroyed, with the smell of smoke still lingering in the air.
h2A battle of discourse smears the wallsh2 The walls of many houses were covered with both extreme Turkish-nationalist rhetoric and pro-PKK graffiti. Over markings where imprisoned leader Abdullah andOcalan was praised, Turkish special forces spray painted and”T.C.,and” an abbreviation for Turkish Republic.
Armored military vehicles and members of the special forces remained at the scene, their faces covered with balaclavas their presence in the curfew zone generated anger and fear.
h2The cartridge collectors of Mescith2 When access Mescit was granted, children rushed with their eyes on the ground and bags in hand to brass bullet shells, with an eagerness that echoed children hunting eggs on Easter. Children sell the cartridges to scrap collectors for TL 6 a kilo.
Emrecan Barut should be in eighth grade, but he has yet to attend classes for the 2015-2016 school year. Barut says he tries to study for his exams while his school is shut down, but is not able to do it on his own. While some of his friends admit that they were never good students or did not like school, Barut yearns to return. He dreams of being a cameraman one day and asks: and”How long do I have to go to school until I can work as a cameraman? Is high school enough or do I have to go to college?and” illustrating his innocent calculations of how much education will be enough to reach his goal.
The extreme circumstances have forced multiple families to live together in one house, like the Karsu family. Berfin and her husband opened their home to relatives and now house four families, all living in one small home. However, this is not the point that makes Berfin uneasy she is most concerned of her daughterand’s future who, at age 7, has become familiar with fear of death.
and”I have considered leaving Silvan with my family but realized that I cannot leave my relatives behind. They need us and we need them,and” Berfin explains.
Mervan Gandunei, 13, says that since the schools opened late in September, he wasnand’t able to go. He now has no school to return to, for it was destroyed in the conflict. Mervan and his family tried to flee their home late in the evening but were stopped by members of the special forces and who ordered them to return to home.
and”My family and relatives found another way to leave Mescit at dawn. My relatives rented a house in another part of the district. I have no clothes other than what Iand’m wearing. When I was at home, I was frightened by the sounds of bullets being fired. My father is in Istanbul, working as a baker to send money to my mother. For the first five days of the incidents, we ate only bread and some olives,and” young Mervan explained, adding, and”I dream of a life of peace and playing games with my friends in my neighborhood.and”


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