New curfews in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast ahead of local elections

Turkish authorities declared military curfews in eight villages around the predominantly Kurdish southeastern city of Diyarbakır's Dicle district ahead of March 31 local elections, a statement released by the governorship of Diyarbakır said on Friday.

According to the announcement, eight villages and their hamlets in Dicle district will be ruled under curfew on the grounds of military operations. "Curfew will be in force until a second order to avoid civilian casualties and for the safety of life and property of the citizens,” the statement said.

The curfews in Turkey’s southeastern provinces have arrived while the political parties have begun to run election campaigns for the upcoming local elections held on March 31. In the previous local elections in 2014, the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which later joined to the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), declared victory by taking almost 50 percent of the votes in Dicle district.

Turkish authorities have intensified military curfews in mostly Kurdish-populated southeastern provinces since August 2015, after a peace process on Turkey's long-lasting Kurdish question failed.

At least 351 curfews have been declared in 11 provinces and 51 districts in Turkey since August 16, 2015, according to data from the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV). In the last three and a half years, people living in Diyarbakır have faced curfews 204 times, according to TIHV figures.