(Eskişehir) – The acquittal of all defendants in Turkey’s first prosecution for the killings and disappearances of 21 Kurds in the early 1990s leaves the victims of serious abuses by state actors without justice, Human Rights Watch said today.
The acquittals come after six years of repeated questionable interruptions in the trial. After the original prosecutor, who reviewed all the evidence, called for the conviction of five of eight defendants in the initial trial, the court trying the case was abolished and the case was twice transferred to different courts. The new prosecutor called for all charges to be dropped without hearing a single witness, raising questions about whether the recommendation was a result of political interferences.
Human Rights Watch representatives attended many of the trial hearings, during which relatives of the victims repeatedly expressed their desire to see justice in court and to see Turkey acknowledge the grim legacy of past abuses. The testimony indicated there had been a pattern of security forces or their agents arresting people from and around Cizre.
Examples included the following:
Harun Padır told the Diyarbakır court on March 5, 2010, that in 1994 he, his uncle, and his father had been detained in their village and taken to the gendarmerie command in Cizre where Temizöz was the commander. Padır was released, but his father and uncle were never seen again.
Nurettin Elçi told the Diyarbakır court on July 9, 2010, that he saw men with walkie-talkies enter his brother Ramazan Elçi’s shop in 1994 and take him away in a white Renault. Days later Nurettin Elçi heard that Ramazan’s body had been found and identified it as it was about to be buried in an unmarked grave in the Cizre cemetery. He identified one of the defendants as among those who detained his brother.
Arafat Aydın told the Diyarbakır court on July 9, 2010, that he was detained and then tortured along with his cousin Mustafa Aydın and Mehmet İlbasan, and that he had been released but that they were killed. Aydın identified the unit under Temizöz’s command as the one that detained and tortured them and that it included some of the defendants and village guards.
Mehmet Selim Uykur, on September 16, 2011, and İsmet Uykur, on October 9, 2009, told the Diyarbakir court that they had witnessed two of the defendants shoot dead İsmet Uykur’s father, Ramazan Uykur, in broad daylight in the street in Cizre in February 1994.
Şevkiye Arslan told the Diyarbakır court on December 4, 2009, that she saw her husband, İhsan Arslan, abducted in the street by two of the defendants in 1993. She described repeated efforts she and other members of her family made to get Arslan released and alleged that the defendants repeatedly threatened her to stop seeking information about her husband, whom she never saw again.
In 2012, Human Rights Watch released a report on the trial and on the importance of ending impunity for the killings and disappearances of Kurds in the 1990s.