‘Kurdish children in Turkey die in armored vehicle crashes or explosions of war remnants’

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The Diyarbakır Bar Association has released its report titled “Violations of Child Rights by Armored Vehicles, Mines and Remnants of Conflict – War”. Prepared by the Bar’s Child Rights Center members Özlem Ender, Şoreş Deniz Tuğrul, Ömer Sansarkan and Murat Aba, the report was shared with the public at a press conference in the Tahir Elçi Conference Hall.

The report of the Bar Association based in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority southeastern province of Diyarbakır sheds light on the deaths and injuries of children as a result of armored vehicle crashes and explosions of mines and remnants of war in the 10 year period of 2011-2021.

The report shows that the number of child deaths caused by armored vehicles, mines and remnants of war has significantly increased in the country’s Kurdish-majority eastern and southeastern provinces.

The report of the Diyarbakır Bar Association covers the Resolution Process for the Kurdish question (2013-2015) as well as the years before the process and its aftermath. The findings of the report demonstrate that the aftermath of 2015 saw more child deaths in the region.

Drawing attention to impunity in the ensuing judicial proceedings, the report shares information about the files and court rulings pertaining to the deaths of Efe Tektekin (5), who was run over by an armored vehicle in Diyarbakır on September 11, 2019; Muhammed Yıldırım (7) and Furkan Yıldırım (6) brothers, who were run over by an armored vehicle that pull down the wall of their house while they were sleeping in Şırnak’s Silopi on May 4, 2017; and Helin Hasret Şen (12), who was killed in the fire opened from an armored vehicle in Diyarbakır’s Sur on October 12, 2015. The judicial proceedings ended in impunity for perpetrators, according to the report.

49 children run over by armored vehicles

In the report, it is indicated that 22 children lost their lives and 27 children were injured in armored vehicle crashes in Turkey in the last 10 years. While 21 of the deceased children were in the Kurdish-majority provinces, one child was in the western Marmara region.

The report finds a significant increase in the number of deaths and injuries between 2016 and 2018. 52 percent of the violations of rights occurred in this period, according to the findings of the report.

45 child deaths caused by remnants of war

The report’s section on “Violations of Child Rights Caused by Mines and Remnants of Conflict – War” underlines that the highest number of violations happened in the Kurdish-majority provinces.

While 55 children lost their lives as a result of war remnants in the region, 126 children were injured. In the Mediterranean and Aegean in the west, nine children in total lost their lives as a result of war remnants.

Eren: Securitarian policies kill children

Speaking to bianet about the report, Diyarbakır Bar Association Chair Nahit Eren refers to the “Diyarbakır Human Rights Study” published by the Diyarbakır Bar on December 10, 2021 and underlines that this Human Rights Study also found that the the number of violations of rights against children is especially high in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority provinces.

Noting that the there are several deaths that occurred as a result of the war remnants that remained in the cities during the conflict period following the Resolution Process, Diyarbakır Bar Chair Eren says:

“Children pay the heaviest price for the securitarian policies pursued in handling the Kurdish question. The remnants of war were not removed following the end of the conflicts in cities in 2015-2017 and children died due to the explosive substances in their playgrounds.

‘Impunity is the second important factor’

“When the data is closely observed, it is seen that the number of deaths saw the highest increase after 2015, when conflicts moved to the city centers. Similarly, the armored vehicles recklessly driven around side streets during the State of Emergency caused the deaths of dozens of children.

“If the major cause of these deaths is the state’s stance on the Kurdish question, the second cause is the court rulings. There has been no incident so far where a prison sentence is handed down.

Especially when armored vehicle crashes are the case, the judiciary considers them to be merely road accidents and either do not give penalties or defer the sentences. So, there is impunity and it leads to an increase in deaths. In essence, Kurdish children die either with armored vehicles or because of war remnants.

Recommendations in the report

In the conclusion part of the report, the Diyarbakır Bar also shares a series of recommendations to prevent the child deaths caused by armored vehicles and explosions of mines and war – conflict remnants.

Emphasizing the importance of mine clearance efforts within this context, the report notes that the state should swiftly fulfill its obligations arising from the Ottawa Treaty. Asking for an amendment to the Highway Traffic Regulation, the report also recommends that armored vehicles should be banned from entering the city centers or their use should be minimized and it should be ensured that they abide by the intracity speed limits if a complete ban is not possible. At this point, the report also underlines the importance of requiring the necessary driving licenses and other licenses and psychosocial support efforts to the ones who drive these vehicles.

Concluding the report, the Diyarbakır Bar also offers recommendations about the children injured in armored vehicle crashes and explosions of mines and war – conflict remnants such as prosthesis and rehabilitation centers as well as policies that will answer children’s needs for economic and social support. The Bar also requests and effective investigation and prosecution in such incidents and calls for an end to impunity. (RT/SD)


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