Torture in Şapatan Village of Şemdinli/Hakkari – Observations of HDP MPs

HDP Statement:

Şapatan, a village in Hakkari’s Şemdinli district with a population of 2000, was raided by Turkish police officers on 6 August 2017. The raid occurred after one special operations police officer had been killed during an operation launched by Turkish army and police forces in Şapatan.

Allegations that villagers were tortured began to spread after the raid. The HDP delegation consisting of MPs Mizgin Irgat and Nihat Akdogan visited Şapatan village on 9 August to examine the case on site. This note is based on their observations and interviews with villagers.

During the raid the villagers were gathered at the square of the village and about 100 of them, also including women and children, were harshly beaten up. After the public beating, 36 villagers were taken into custody without any reason. The detainees were further tortured in the police station.

When 20 of them were released with torture marks on their bodies, they applied to the Şemdinli hospital to get medical report for documenting torture. However, the physician refused to give the report. Adding insult to injury, the physician blamed the villagers with a racist approach.

HDP MPs stated that the overwhelming majority of the village had voted for HDP in previous elections. The village has been exposed to various forms of repression in the past. Turkish security forces raided the houses early in the morning. Some villagers were beaten up with a hose and stabbed. Women were sexually abused. The marks of torture on the victims’ bodies were still fresh four days after the raid. The marks of torture were worse than the images of tortured villagers shared in social media after the raid.

The demand of HDP delegation to meet with district governor and the prosecutor were rejected “due to the sensitivity of the issue.” There has been no legal investigation so far, although the Turkish Chief of Police announced that there was an administrative investigation, while simultaneously claiming that allegations of torture were “terrorist propaganda.” Despite several testimonies and photos, the governor of Hakkari denied the existence of torture; he, too, issued a statement claiming that making reports of the images of the torture is “terror propaganda”.

The European Court of Human Rights has described similar practices of torture as human rights violations in their various decisions on Turkey in the past. Such inhumane practices of Turkish security forces against civilian Kurds clearly remind us of emergency rule and “dirty war” of the 1990s. We vehemently condemn torture against the villagers of Şapatan and urge the democratic international community, particularly human rights organizations and relevant bodies of the Council of Europe, the European Union and United Nations, to raise their voice against torture and take action. Torture is a crime against humanity and is unacceptable under any circumstances.

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