Sunday, September 16, 2007


"In the course of the last several years, both the Special Rapporteur and her predecessor,
Bacre W. Ndiaye, on numerous occasions approached the Government of Turkey regarding cases of alleged extrajudicial executions and other violation of the right to life. In most of these cases, government forces have been accused in cases of deaths resulting from excessive use of force and deaths in custody, or instances where persons were allegedly found dead after having been abducted by police or security forces."
~ Report of the Special Rapporteur, Ms. Asma Jahangir, submitted pursuant to Commission on Human Rights resolution 2001/45.

From Özgür Gündem comes a report on a murder of five Kurdish youths in 2005.

In January 2005, five Kurdish youths were murdered by TSK in Şirnex (Şirnak), with the claim that the youths were HPG gerîlas. However, after an investigation by İnsan Hakları Derneği (IHD--Turkish Human Rights Association), it is clear that the youths were, in fact, civilians and not members of HPG.

The five youths were composed of four females and one male. They were not dressed as HPG gerîlas and IHD determined that the sparse military equipment found on the bodies had been planted after the murders. The one weapon found in the hands of one of the dead was a rusty pistol. The military-style vests and belts found on the bodies appeared to have been put on the bodies by someone other than the wearer. For instance, on one of the female bodies, the belt containing the ammunition pouches was put on backwards. Another of the females had no clothes on whatsoever, save for underclothes, indicating that she had been undressed by someone at some point. The clothes of the dead were civilian clothes, including turtleneck sweaters, which would have been fitting for wear in January. The bodies were not wearing the distinctive HPG uniform.

At the time, HPG made a statement about the murders, saying the victims were civilians and not members of HPG. On the other hand, the official report from Sirnex made the claim that the victims were HPG gerîlas.

Right after the incident occured, IHD chairman Reyhan Yalçındağ, IHD regional representative Mihdi Perinçek, Selahattin Demirtaş (who is now a DTP parliamentarian from Amed/Diyarbakır), and IHD branch chairman Mehmet Bozkurt made a statment in which they noted the following:

1. The incident took place 2 kilometers away from Toptepe village, close to a river bank.

2. The area is very close to numerous military forces, in a well-protected area.

3. The victims were wearing civilian clothes.

4. The prosecutor never went to the scene to investigate the murders, contrary to Turkish law.

5. There was no report from the murder scene and no list of personal effects of the victims, contrary to Turkish law.

4. There were no photos, no coordinates of the murder scene, no videotape recording.

5. Evidence collection was done by the Jandarma forces, who were the main suspects of the murders.

IHD had applied to the Şirnex prosecutor to investigate the case because IHD was highly suspicious that it was an example of a TSK murder of civilians, but the Şirnex prosecutor dismissed the case without any kind of hearing. Following the dismissal, IHD applied to the European Court of Human Rights.

At the time of IHD's 2005 statement, there was no evidence available, but now IHD has come into the possession of video and photos taken of the murder scene and the victims. From these records, it becomes clearer that the victims were civilians and they were murdered by TSK.

The bodies show evidence of torture, such as cigarette burns and other burns. One victim had 11 cigarette burns on the body. The male body shows signs of cutting on the palms of the hands and on the left leg. One of the mothers of the victims could not recognize her daughter's body because of the severe discoloration and bruising. This family had requested the autopsy and ballistics reports, but they were refused the information.

In addition, there are statements from the villagers of Toptepe area:

"Around noontime a group of soldiers came and asked for three donkeys, and we accompanied the group of soldiers with our donkeys. When we got there, five people were there but they were not wearing gerilla clothes. I got the chance to examine the two females that I loaded on my donkey. They had dressed up like we do in daily life. In this region, there is no fighting. Everyone in this village is a witness of this incident, but because of fear of the soldiers, no one can tell about it."

Also there was news last week of TSK's use of cluster bomb munitions in South Kurdistan. TSK fired cluster bombs in the Haftanin region of South Kurdistan, severely injuring three villagers. Near Zaxo, a Turkish helicopter employed cluster bombs, causing severe injuries to a shepherd. Fifteen sheep were killed in the incident.

Unexploded cluster bombs pose a great danger to anyone who handles them, especially to children, as well as causing destruction of livestock property.

The use of cluster bombs is banned by certain international agreements. Israeli use of cluster bombs in Lebanon last year caused an international outcry but, so far, there has been no outcry against TSK's use of cluster bombs against Kurdish civilians.

And don't hold your breath on that.

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