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Kurds on hunger strike for bodies of dead relatives

Kurdish families have launched a hunger strike to get the bodies of relatives killed while fighting with the security forces in Turkey’s conflict-ravaged southeast.
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DIYARBAKIR, Turkey — “We were supposed to be receiving visitors for condolences now, but we are still trying to get our dead,” Mithat Ogut said bitterly. The middle-aged Kurd — visibly weak — is on a hunger strike. The reason: to press the authorities to let him have the body of his son, killed in clashes between the security forces and Kurdish militants that are raging in urban areas in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast since summer 2015. His son's body, he believes, has been left in the streets in Diyarbakir’s historic Sur district, now a virtual war zone, cut off from the outside world amid round-the-clock curfews. Along with Ogut, five other Kurds have been on a hunger strike at the Human Rights Association’s Diyarbakir office since Jan. 1, demanding the handover of two other bodies from Sur.

According to Kurdish politicians and families, at least 55 other bodies remain unburied in Cizre and Silopi, two towns in Sirnak province that remain under curfew as the security forces battle Kurdish militants entrenched in residential neighborhoods. The dead are believed to include both civilians and militants.

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