ECHR finds Turkey guilty over 1993 disappearances

KT Report:

Families of the disappeared hold regualr protests

Families of the disappeared hold regular protests

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) this week found Turkey guilty of breaching the European Convention on Human Rights by violating the ‘right to life’. The case concerns the disappearance of six villagers who were detained by security forces in 1993 and never seen again. This ruling follows a 20-year campaign by their families for the truth and justice.

The men disappeared on June 14, 1993, the day after fierce fighting destroyed the village of Selcik in Turkey/north Kurdistan. The Strasbourg-based court heard that the men were arrested in front of other villagers and taken into custody at the nearby Gorumlu police station. The court ordered Turkey to pay 65,000 euros to four of the families of the six men. The victims’ names are: Şemdin Cülaz, Hamdo Şimşek, Hükmet Şimşek, İbrahim Akıl, Mehmet Sailh Demirhan and Halit Özdemir.

Amnesty International launched an appeal with the families, and a number of legal cases have been brought to the Turkish courts but so far none has been successful.

A lawsuit was filed against several officers including General Mete Sayar, the Şırnak 23rd Gendarmery Border Division Commander at the time. After the first hearing in November 2013, the Justice Minister moved the proceedings to Ankara for “security reasons”. The accused are still awaiting trial.

For years the families faced dismissal by the authorities who told them their relatives had “joined the PKK”. However, bianet reports that bones have been found in the vicinity of the Gendarmery Battalion Command yard in Silopi and that they are with the Forensics Institute for investigation.

The ECHR is the judicial arm of the Council of Europe. Turkey has been a member of the Council since 1949 and, like all member states, it has signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights.

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