Women in Şırnak: Life is getting too hard in the tents

The women who are living in tents in Şırnak say the weather is getting colder and life in tents is getting harder. Women also complain that the children can’t go to school and demand that the curfew be lifted as soon as possible.

The curfew declared on March 14 in Şırnak is still in place, even though the clashes have ended. 90% of the population had to move from the city, which is torn down with bulldozers and homes and shops are looted.

Around 10 thousand residents of Şırnak who don’t want to leave the city have been living in tents in the skirts of Cudi and Gabar mountains for the last seven months. With the weather turning cold, life in these tents is now getting much harder.

The women in the tents spoke to the ANF about their daily life.

Gülbahar Kılıç said the children were most affected by the events and continued: “We tried to go in to Şırnak to look at our home last week. The police noticed us and fired into the air, and they detained my husband in front of my children’s eyes. My youngest daughter now starts to cry whenever she sees a stranger in fear that something will happen to her father. My middle child has started to tear out her hair. They are affected the worst by the events. I was pregnant during the events but I had a miscarriage. Life here is hard but we won’t leave this land. In time, we managed somehow, but now it’s getting really cold. In winter, the snowfall in this region is meters high, we can’t stay in these tents. I miss our street, my neighbors so much. Here we survive somehow with solidarity, but how far will that go? The curfew should be lifted as soon as possible. And then we will act according to the situation our home is in.”

Şirin Tunç said many women gave birth here and they have been malnourished due to the conditions and continued: “Women and children fall ill very frequently here. The new mothers can’t get enough nutrition. They have trouble breastfeeding the children. Why don’t they lift the curfew? The clashes are no more! Those with homes still standing will return, those with homes torn down like us will try to continue here. We can survive here with help from the municipality, but then what? How will we stay here once the weather turns? The ones who place the ban must find a solution as well. For days now, they have been tearing down standing buildings. We managed the water and power issue in the tents. We can make bread here as well. This is our land, we won’t leave it. They should forget about that plan.”

Hatun Sürer said others had tried to empty Şırnak before, and continued: “They had tried to burn Şırnak down before. I remember that time well. But it wasn’t this blatant. Nobody has been so cruel. We didn’t leave the land in the face of that oppression, and we won’t leave now. This time around, they also tore down our homes. But we are waiting here, we will rebuild. I will stay in this tent with my 14 children, I will not go anywhere.”

Ayşe Çetin said her children are now cold when they go to bed at night and that her husband couldn’t work for months and continued: “My husband has been out of work for months. We have nothing left. My children are psychologically affected. They ask for their toys all the time. None of the children here can go to school either. Isn’t it a pity for our children? Those constantly saying “my Kurdish brother” on the TVs should be ashamed. Why do they tear down houses with no damage? Despite them, we won’t leave this place. The nights are cold now, we need better tents. In the winter it will get so much worse here, we need a solution now.”

Semra Kara said they were used to life in tents because they were nomads and that the school problem for the children must be resolved at once, and continued: “We are used to this life but you can’t stay in tents here in winter. Now we are finding solutions to our problems. The municipality works, there’s no problem there, but it snows heavily in Şırnak. The children can’t manage at all. School has started, but we can’t send any of them. Our home has been torn down, we have nowhere to go. They say the state will confiscate our land. They can’t confiscate our legally owned land. We will build a home there again. Here the children are cold when they take showers. If they lift the curfew, we will go back and live there again. They tore Şırnak down, we watched from a distance. We won’t leave our lands to them.”