İSTANBUL — The European Court of Human Rights has dealt Turkish human rights activists a significant blow in its refusal to hear a pivotal case stemming from a Turkish military operation that left more than 100 civilians dead. The military campaign took place in Turkey's predominantly Kurdish southeast between December 2015 and February 2016 as the security forces sought to oust PKK separatist fighters from towns and cities across the region.
The European Court cases focused on Cizre, the scene of some of the heaviest fighting. U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said Turkish security forces "deliberately and unjustifiably killed about 130 people — among whom were unarmed civilians and injured combatants — trapped in the basements." Ankara strongly condemned the allegations, maintaining that civilians were not deliberately killed.
Two civilians, Orhan Tunc and Omer Elci, were among the casualties in Cizre. Last Thursday, the court ruled that their cases were inadmissible because all "domestic remedies" had not been exhausted. That means lawyers had not taken their case to Turkey's Constitutional Court. The decision is a crucial legal victory for Ankara, but casts a shadow in the minds of many in Turkey over the integrity of the European court.
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