Kurdish farmers suffer horrific injuries after being thrown from military helicopter

Issue 
Osman Siban was abducted. tortured and thrown from a Turkish military helicopter. Photo: ANF English

Two Kurdish farmers remained in hospital on September 20 after suffering horrific injuries when they were tortured and thrown from a helicopter in Turkey’s south-eastern province of Van.

The families of Osman Siban and Servet Turgut filed a criminal complaint with the Van chief public prosecutor’s office after the pair were treated in intensive care for injuries consistent with falling from a height.

They have demanded an urgent investigation into the incident, which has left the men with serious trauma.

According to reports, Turkish soldiers arrived in the village in the rural Catak district last week, gathering the citizens in the square, forcing them onto their knees and demanding to see their identification.

The troops told them they were angry about unspecified acts of terrorism and would burn down their village in an act of revenge.

A group of about 15 soldiers returned with Turgut, who had been detained in another neighbourhood, and took him and Siban into custody.

They threatened to shoot dead anyone who protested the detentions. The men were last seen being bundled into a military helicopter.

As the village was surrounded by soldiers, the residents were unable to tell anyone about the detentions. The families of the men were not told of their whereabouts until they threatened to go to the press two days after their disappearance.

It was only then that authorities confirmed that they were in the intensive care unit at Van District Training and Research Hospital.

Protests took place in a number of south-eastern cities and the capital Ankara on September 19, amid fears of a return to the forced disappearances of the 1990s.

It comes after a wave of kidnappings of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) representatives including its youth council spokesperson Serhat Aktumur, who was threatened with execution after being bundled into a vehicle in Diyarbakir on September 19.

One of the kidnappers, identified as “Commissioner Nihat,” warned him not to go to the Human Rights Association or speak to the press about his alleged torture.

“If we see you here again, we’ll shoot you in the head,” he says he was told before being pushed out of the car in the middle of a forest.

But the “mafia-style” behaviour of the state in targeting political opposition in such a way has been seen as a sign of weakness.

HDP MP Musa Piroglu said: “In the behaviour of [Interior Minister Suleyman] Soylu and the entire security apparatus, we see the concept of a regime that is losing strength.

“The crises are causing the power base of President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan to crumble. Support is dwindling for both domestic and foreign policy. Well-known methods are being used to guarantee that power is maintained.”

[Reprinted from Morning Star Online.]

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