‘Children’s playgrounds have turned into an arsenal in Turkey’

News About Turkey - NAT
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The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Child Commission held a press conference at the Parliament yesterday (March 30) and raised concerns about the increasing child deaths and attacks on children in Turkey, especially the death of 16-year-old Muharrem Aksem.

Working as a shepherd in the Micit (Çalışkan) Neighborhood in the Eyyübiye district of Urfa, Aksem was found dead on March 24 in the area where the police use as a shooting range. With some body parts smashed, some metal pieces yet not identified were found in his body.

Speaking within this context, HDP Şırnak MP and Child Commission member Hüseyin Kaçmaz briefly said the following:

“Following the government’s insistence on a deadlock and war policy about the resolution of the Kurdish question, this death happened today. That the Kurdish geography has turned into an arsenal leads to deaths in the playgrounds and living spaces of children.

“We know how the playgrounds of children have turned into an arsenal because Muharrem shared it on his social media. He took the pictures of the ammunition remnants he collected and posted them. These pictures show us how easily a child can reach military munition.

“The Urfa Bar Association has also indicated that the related area has been in use as a shooting range since 2005. When we look at the legislation, it is written that shooting ranges shall be cordoned off for security, red flags shall be placed around them and they shall be fenced off. Moreover, it is indicated that the ones who live there shall be warned about it.

“However, in a place which has been in use as a shooting range since 2005, there is no warning like the ones written in the legislation. Why isn’t this place fenced off? Why is there no warning? Won’t the judiciary bring the responsible ones to account? There is a sole reason behind the violation of the right to life and it is the policy of impunity of the government.

“In the light of all this information that we have mentioned, all institutions of the state have to make the necessary inquiries and examinations. The government must reveal the truth and inform the public”.

What happened?

On March 24, 2022, near the Organized Zone of the Eyyübiye district, in Çalışkan Village, the deceased body of 16-year-old Muharrem Aksem was found. Meeting the family after the incident, the Urfa Bar Association Human Rights Center shared the following information:

“In our talks with the family, we were told that the child had told his friends, ‘I will go to find a dog’, the place where he went was the place where the security had a test-fire and the deceased body was the place where the police came for a test-fire. On the day of the incident, the family could reach their child at 4.30 pm the last time and when they asked them where he was, he said that he was in the field with the animals. As he did not come after this phone call, the father went to his children, told them to go to the police station and started searching for him with their relatives.

“According to the information that we receive from the people living in that region, there are witness statements indicating that the police were constantly going to an area some 500 meters away from the house and practicing shooting there and gunshots were heard until 6 pm that day.

“They found the deceased body of their children in that region at 10 pm. It is indicated that he has shrapnel marks in his body, there were shells powerful enough to destroy a stone such as a smoke shell, the child did not have his hand, it was smashed, his body was in pieces and when they went there, there was a smell of gunpowder”.

In a statement released by the Governor’s Office, it was indicated that “the area was a shooting range, but Aksem did not have bullet remains in his body”. In the death examination report, it was indicated that 12 metallic objects in different sizes were taken out of the body of Aksem.

Aksem family’s lawyer Hatice Akıllı Öz has said that they are waiting for the autopsy report to be issued by the Specialized Board of the İstanbul Forensic Medicine Institution to learn the exact cause of death. (AÖ/SD)


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