By Dr. Amy L. Beam:
Ferhat Encu is a Kurdish political prisoner and human rights activist from Roboski, Turkey. First the government killed his brother, then they killed their mules, then they killed their horses, then they put Ferhat Encu in prison. But the Turkish government will never succeed in killing 20 million Kurds or their determination for full human rights.
Five years ago, on December 28, 2011, Turkey flew two F-16s for 47 minutes and one-by-one killed 34 innocent Kurds with missile strikes. Most of them were teenagers doing cross-border trading. Nineteen men and boys from the Encu families were killed in the Roboski massacre, including Ferhat Encu’s 17-year-old brother, Serhat. They were returning over the mountain ridge on their mules with gasoline. Each boy earns about $50 for his family on each overnight trip. This trade was conducted in front of the eyes of the Turkish soldiers and commanders.
No government officials ever showed up in Roboski to interview any of the bereaved families. The U.S. flew a drone and passed the coordinates to the Turkish Air Force. No apology has ever been offered to the 34 families who lost a loved one. The government said it was targeting a PKK leader, Bahoz Erdal, but U.S. drone video clearly shows there were no PKK among the civilians. Turkey called it an operational mistake.
In 2012, Ferhat became the spokesperson for the victims’ families, pressing the government in court for answers. This led to Encu’s election to parliament from Şırnak on June 7, 2015. He took his seat in parliament as MP from the HDP party on November 1, 2015.
On February 25, 2014, once again, there was military action at the Turkey-Iraq border near Roboski. The Turkish government built a “security road” and erected a wire fence to block the cross-border trading. This drew local protests which resulted in military bombing, shooting and tear gassing of civilians.
Ferhat Encu was among 1000 local villagers who walked to the border to intervene as human shields between the Turkish army and HPG (People’s Defense Units) to prevent bloodshed. Both sides retreated. If the border had been permanently closed, these villagers would have lost their main source of economic survival.
Yezidis owe a debt of gratitude to Ferhat Encu. After ISIS (Daesh) attacked the Yezidis in Shengal, Iraq, on August 3, 2014, Ferhat Encu organized the residents of Roboski to shelter and feed 20,000 Yazidis who fled from Iraq over the mountain border to Roboski, Turkey. He coordinated city buses from all the towns and cities in southeast Turkey and dispersed the Yezidis to a dozen refugee camps. This was achieved with volunteers and donations. The Turkish government, in spite of legal requirements, refused to give any humanitarian aid to these camps run by Kurds.
On April 28, 2016, MP Encu told parliament “I remember the civilians recently massacred by shelling in Silopi. I remember the 34 people, including children, who were brutally bombed by Turkish war planes in Roboski four years ago.” A brawl broke out as AKP members of parliaments shouted insults at Encu for daring to speak the truth.
On November 4, 2016, MP Ferhat Encu was arrested and now remains in prison with hundreds, or possibly thousands, of other political prisoners in Turkey. Since November, the Turkish government has imprisoned 12 members of parliament from the HDP party after parliament removed political immunity for parliament members. Encu was accused of “alienating the public from military service, terrorist propaganda, incitement to animosity, entering military prohibited zones, attempted murder of a public official for their duty”.
Ferhat Encu was sent to the Kandira F-type closed prison for women where he was kept alone.
Ferhat Encu is a great humanitarian with courage to stand up for truth and justice. The Turkish government should release him immediately. NATO should examine its relationship with Turkey as Turkey defiles the rule of law with wholesale arrests of politicians, Kurdish elected leaders, journalists, academics, and generals.
Dr. Amy L. Beam is Executive Director of “Amy, Azadi and Jiyan” (AAJ) humanitarian organization registered in Kurdistan. She is a researcher, writer, and human rights activist for Yezidis and Kurds in the Middle East. Follow her on her public Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AmyLBeam . Contact: email@example.com