Incident and Formation of Committee
A committee was formed by the Human Rights Association’s (İHD) Headquarters in order to make an observation and to meet with the competent authorities upon receiving applications made over phone regarding serious violations of rights occurring in Kuruköy village, Nusaybin District, Mardin province, where the entrance and exits were blocked by the police and gendarmerie as of 11 February 2017 and communication was lost, and upon receiving the news published by news agencies about this issue. The names of our friends composing this committee will not be specified in this report due to the fact that the power given to public administrators by the State of Emergency and its Decree-Laws heavily violates the right to legal security and in order for protection of human rights defenders.
The committee started its observations on Monday on 20 February 2017 in Mardin. In the same day, an appointment was requested from Mustafa Yaman, Governor of Mardin, and District Governor of Nusaybin in written form by the İHD’s Headquarters; however, this request was left without any positive or negative response. The committee had several interviews in the afternoon on 20 February 2017, Monday in Nusaybin and then, set off to go to Kuruköy village. They were stopped with a roadblock set by the security forces 15 km to Kuruköy village and safe conduct was not given to them.
In the same day, Mardin Governorate made a press statement and gave information regarding the operation in the village but the governorate made an unfortunate statement as if the nongovernmental organizations are nonobjective by stating that the allegations reflected to the public are biased and nonobjective. However, if the Mardin Governorate had met with the committees having wanted to meet with them, they could have given information about what was being done about the inspection of the serious allegations.
Examinations of the Committee
- Our committee went to the HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) building on 20 February 2017 after arriving Nusaybin. They saw that the committees -including MPs as well- were at the building to get information about the incident. There were a lot of people at the building having relatives at the village where the entrance and exit were blocked. The party authorities gave the first information. They told the curfew was continuing and they were receiving worrying information but they could not made contact with the authorities.
- WITNESS STATEMENT: In the meanwhile, our committee reached a person (40 years old, male) who managed to leave the Kuruköy village in the 6th day of the ban because of his disease. He accepted the committee’s request for obtaining information. In his statement is as follows: “We heard helicopter sounds above the village on Saturday, February 11 at 19.30, at 20.30 it was declared by the local authority from the mosque’s loudspeaker that soldiers came to the village and there was a curfew until the morning. Meanwhile, operations started. Firstly, the houses outside the village began to be raided. Ebubekir Koç who is 73 years old is one of the ones who were firstly taken into custody. The rest were kept hostage at their houses. They gathered the people from the raided houses in an empty field and performed torture and maltreatment. A 35 years old woman started to bleed from his nose and felt faint upon seeing this scene. Her mother in-law felt fainted too and when their situation aggravated they were given permission to be taken to hospital after all the efforts. Her husband who works in Cyprus and came to the village on his annual leave was also taken into custody on Sunday. Therefore, the woman wanted to take her daughters with her but she was not allowed. They did not let her 12 and 14 years old daughters leave the house. The woman said that they told they would keep her daughters at home to make the girls “serve them”. The family cannot contact with their daughters and they are very worried about this. Operation forces settled particularly at the houses located in the dominant points of the village. From Saturday to Sunday, 16 people were taken into custody and internments continued. There were children among the ones being taken into custody. It is possible, though hard, for ill people in emergency conditions to leave the village but the children are not given permission to leave. A cardiac woman with 2 and 4 years old children felt fainted and she was not allowed to take her children with her. Then she refused to go to the hospital. They allowed her to take her children with her when her condition aggravated. A month before, another operation was performed in the village. They took 6 people into custody then. They kept them for two days and released. They did not damaged the houses then. There was no conflict when the operation started. Gunfire was heard in the 6th day of the operation on Friday at around 15.00. Deaths occurred then. We identified 3 people from the photographs. In fact, we still have doubts because the bodies were unrecognizable. For example, one of them looks like a non-sane dweller of the village. I left the village in the 6th day because of my disease. After that, I could receive information partially over phone about what was happening. Right now, phone contact and information flow is completely lost. There is a clean water problem in the village. In the operations performed a month ago, the transformer providing clean water to the village was broken and it was not fixed. We were meeting our water needs from nearby villages by bringing water with tankers. This was no more allowed after the bans. We had to drink foul water. There was not any food and water stock in the houses. That is why we could neither find water nor food. We cannot make bread because they do not let us even go out to the garden. An epidemic broke out when they had to use foul water. According to information I obtained, there was an increase in the number of people referred to the hospitals. Two people were diagnosed with intoxication in the hospital. Only ambulance and fire trucks are allowed to enter and leave the village. It was said houses were ravaged but I do not know how many. Xeraba Bava is an ancient and historical village. There are historical ruins such as city walls and a church. The village was razed to the ground on 15 May 1995 because the villagers had not agreed to become village guards (korucu). Two people had been taken outside of the mosque and killed and all of us were forced to immigrate. Back then there was 185 houses at the village. In 2002, the permission of return was given and on 7-10 March 2002, villagers returned to their village. We reconstructed the village. Now our village has 65 houses and 500 people living in it. After the curfew in Nusaybin, the number of houses were 100 and then decreased to 65 again. There are still people who were not taken to the hospital in the village. One of them is Bego Doğan, he is 76 years old. He has stents in two of his veins, he is on medication at full strength and he needs care. Now he is alone at the village and we could not hear from him for 10 days. The operation started from air and vehicle support came from the road. We don’t know the exact situation of the village. We will get to know if there is any life losses, how many are they, how many houses were ravaged when the ban ends. What we know is 39 people were taken in to custody in the police station. This isn’t the certain number.
As far as I know, the ones taken into custody until Friday are as follows:
Abdullah Doğan, 64
Osman Doğan, 19
Vedat Doğan, 16 – he was released in the 4th day because of he is under-aged.
An 8th grade student whose last name is Bayhan was taken into custody, he was released in the 4th day because of he is under-aged.
Gülbahar Toy, 40
A woman whose last name is Bayhan, 40
Neriman Güngör, 40 – she was released because she had a heart attack under custody.
Her husband Şükrü Güngör is still under custody. There is no permission to see the ones under custody. We were waiting and seeing them when they were brought to the hospital but they are not brought anymore. We researched the situation and found out they were taking the doctor to the police station.
There are various types of people participating in the operation. There are soldiers, police special operation team members, the ones with covered faces, the ones dressed as civilians and the ones with beard. There are tall and heavily-built groups. They have various types of arms. Some of them are carrying something looking like plasma television on their backs. We heard from press, a special brigade came from İzmir, Bornova but we don’t know if it is true. When I was leaving, I saw about 1000 soldiers and police just on the road. Commando, gendarmerie, special operation forces… I cannot explain what is happening. I went through September 12, but we haven’t seen such a thing, I am shocked.”
- After this interview, our committee met with another committee coming from Diyarbakır Bar Association. We went to Nusaybin Courthouse and demanded to see the Chief Public Prosecutor. Firstly, the Prosecutor was not in his office and afterwards he declined our demand by saying “I am very busy and I cannot meet with you”. Then he said there can be a meeting on Wednesday at 10.00 and he took the phone number of one of our friends and said they may have something coming up then and they will inform us about it. Meanwhile, another appointment was requested from the governor and the district governor both by IHD and Bar association but no appointment was given. Our committees took the road to Kuruköy village after seeing they would not be able to meet with any official authorities.
Transportation to Kuruköy village was obstructed 15km far from the village. At the point where the road was blocked there were two big panzers, TOMA (an armored water cannon) and a civil “doblo” car and some military officers with beard and some civil police with arms were waiting. At the same time, HDP and DBP MP’s committee arriving before us, a group of peace mothers and some people –mostly women- having relatives in the village dispersedly heaped together at a nearby point.
Our committee firstly went to the check point and said they wanted to go to the village. A military officer did not let our committee enter by saying the operation were continuing and entrances and exits were not permitted. The same officer told us there was no curfew in the next two villages after the check point but they only let the ones who can prove they live in there pass under control. Our committee talked with the people waiting there and told them their purpose to come.
- WITNESS STATEMENT: Our committee learned from a woman waiting there that her husband was injured after the start of the operation and he is being kept in intensive care unit in Mardin. His name is Abdi Aykut. According to her statement “Abdi Aykut came to the village 10 days before the operation to prepare the garden for sowing. They could contact until Friday, the day when the operation started. On Friday, while talking with her husband over phone she heard such shouts “to the garden, to the garden!” After that, the phone fell and the line was cut. Afterwards, she could not contact with her husband. She reached a relative of hers after two days and he said to her ‘the situation is bad, Abdi is injured. Two days after he was injured, the commander told us to go check if he is alive. We checked and he was alive; they took him to the hospital but he was cringed inside the blanket. I don’t know he will survive or not’. She went to the hospital. They told her that her husband was there but they did not allow her to see him. His son went to the hospital, they took his ID too and then kick him out of the hospital. There are still no information about his condition.”
- Our committee left the point where the entrance to the village was obstructed and meet with lawyers in Nusaybin. The Lawyers said they were having serious challenges, their contact with the ones under custody was inhibited, they could not provide legal support, and they were having problems because of the demand for other lawyers to be appointed by the code of criminal procedure instead of their private lawyers. They stated that about 50 people whose names are not known for sure were kept in the Nusaybin Gendarmerie Station according to the information they received.
Our committee saw 2 ambulances and a funeral coach leaving the village during the short time of their presence there. Our committee demands;
An effective investigation to be carried out immediately by the relevant officials at the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office about witness statements, pictures of tortured and killed individuals posted on social media accounts of people who are said to be policemen, the ambulance and the funeral coaches that we encountered on our way to the village, fire trucks seen by people, not letting our committee enter and even go near the village and absence of mobile phone signals as of the check point – located 15km far from the village-, such claims as torture and maltreatment, extrajudicial killing, burning down and destroying some of the houses at the village, common and illicit custody, oppression to the villagers mentioned in the statements of witnesses who managed to leave the village when official authorities refused to meet us,
Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) Human Rights Inquiry Committee immediately form a subcommittee and hold an inquiry in this village, Human Rights and Equality Institution of Turkey to hold an inquiry regarding grave violations of rights and Ministry of Justice and Interior to carry out an effective administrative and legal inquiry about public administrators performing actions contrary to legislation.
Implementations in Nusaybin, Kuruköy village show that unlawful attitude and actions seen in the implementation of curfews started on 16 August 2015 in several districts unfortunately continue and there are heavy claims of violation of rights. We invite international human rights organizations and human rights mechanisms formed in accordance with the conventions to which Turkey is a party to be sensitive about the absence of effective inquiries in the cities and districts where curfews declared and security operations carried out to this day.
HUMAN RIGHTS ASSOCIATION