Turkish Army Kills Civilian during Arbor Day Activities

By Dr. Amy L. Beam:2013 amy beam headshot4

On April 11, 2015, the Turkish army shot from a helicopter and killed Cezmi Budak, former co-chair of the HDP party in Diyadin in eastern Turkey. Local Kurdish residents were going to the outskirts of Yukari Tütek village in the Tendurek Mountains for their annual Arbor Day activities on Saturday morning. Arbor Day is an international tree-planting event observed annually since 1805.

The Tendurek Mountain range is in Diyadin district, Agri province, approximately 60 km. west of Dogubayazit where Mount Ararat (Agri Daği) is located. The hot springs near Diyadin are a popular tourist attraction.

Cezmi Budak, killed by Turkish army

Cezmi Budak, killed by Turkish army

Tendurek Mountain range is located west of Dogubayazit in Agri province.

Tendurek Mountain range is located west of Dogubayazit in Agri province.

Clashes broke out as army soldiers tried to prevent the Kurdish civilians (or possibly PKK) from joining in the tree-planting activities. This resulted in four soldiers being wounded. Cezmi Budak and his friends, from nearby Diyadin, walked between the PKK and the soldiers in an effort to stop the confrontation. A helicopter shot and killed Cezmi Budak. Because of heavy weapons attacks from the air that continued for hours, Budak’s body remained overnight on the mountain. Another man is reported wounded.

The local Kurds who were with Budak to stop the confrontation carried the four wounded soldiers off the mountain where they were taken to Diyadin Hospital then transferred to Erzurum Hospital.

Cezmi Budak, former co-chair of HDP Diyadin

Cezmi Budak, former co-chair of HDP Diyadin

Kurds plant trees every spring to heal the deforestation of Anatolia

Kurds plant trees every spring to heal the deforestation of Anatolia

Turkish media, quick to flame hostilities just prior to June elections, has stated the army “killed five terrorists”. A local resident who wishes to remain anonymous, stated, “We do not believe what the Turkish news tells us.”

According to KurdishQuestion.com, Turkish General Staff reported in a written statement that the clash broke out after fire was opened on Turkish soldiers who were dispatched to the area by Ağrı Gendarmerie Command upon an instruction by the Governor. The statement said that 15 teams of soldiers were sent there in line with intelligence reports that the people joining the event would “spread propaganda for PKK” and “put pressure on local people to vote for the candidates they themselves support”.

Without further investigation, it is not clear who opened fire first.

The festival, of course, was the internationally observed Arbor Day. The planting of pine trees in the spring time, to heal the denuded mountains, is a traditional Kurdish annual event.

In the 1980s and 1990s Turkey pursued a scorched earth policy against the Kurds, destroying 3000 villages and leaving homeless between one and three million Kurds. This destruction included the total deforestation of eastern Anatolia. The government used the excuse that it was to deny hiding places for the PKK. No one can tell this gut-wrenching story with more emotional vividness than the famous Kurdish writer, Yaşar Kemal, who died in February 15, 2015, at the age of 92. Read his story of this dark tragedy here.

The Kurds plant trees in an effort to restore the environment. In 2011, this writer visited the Agri government nursery with a friend to purchase pine seedlings for a 2,000 acre piece of land. The government department said the limit was 30 seedlings.

In other regions of Turkey, government deforestation plans, mostly as a result of dam projects, are also hotly debated.

Kurds gathered in Diyadin after civilian Cezmi Budak was killed

Kurds gathered in Diyadin after civilian Cezmi Budak was killed

Dr. Amy L. Beam promotes tourism in eastern Turkey at Mount Ararat Trek and writes political and historical commentary on Kurds in Turkey at Kurdistan Tribune. She has been banned from Turkey without reason (presumably for her writing) and has appealed in court in Ankara. Twitter @amybeam; amybeam@yahoo.com

2 Responses to Turkish Army Kills Civilian during Arbor Day Activities
  1. Kuvan Bamarny
    April 13, 2015 | 12:09

    Iam not sure who opened fire at who first , but all I can offer here is ,we are living in a century and time where people do not trust or count on the words and claims of each other at face value.

    Many people take their time and put each other through tests and experiments to win over an argument ,to prove the right from wrong ,to condemn the wrongdoers, to gain confidence,to gain support and votes,to gain people to their side,to prove the nature and mentality of their opponents and their intentions,claims,cases and points to the general public including law authorities and most importantly to the international community.

    Important parliamentary elections is going to be hold on Sunday, June 7, 2015 in Turkey,so Kurdish people of Turkey should be very careful -(Iam positive most of them are careful ) and not make mistakes that would result to the loss of their ground of fighting for their legitimate rights.They must take the position of self-defense rather than offence. When someone make offensive mistakes ,usually public opinion condemn them and do not believe or support their cause and arguments of rights.

    This method is used by politicians to proves the inner intentions of their opponents as to how much they can be trusted or are sincere and strong in their claims of upholding the democratic ,humane values such as tolerance ,coexistence and respect towards the rights of others.

    Kurds of Turkey must be very careful in saying their words,and doing their actions as the their opponents and objectors are lurking around in every corner to find a fault and a flaw in them ,yet get them condemned in the eye of the public.They should be careful when put through psychological tests.They should not lose their temper and control to the point where the break law they would come off as violator ,and offender rather than a defender in the eye of public and international community.They should always take the position of self defense when they come across a physical or none physical fight situation.

    Har Bjit Kurd O Kurdistan.Sarkaften bo HDP.

    Kuvan Bamarny/Duhok

  2. D
    April 16, 2015 | 01:28

    At least we have a rough figure of how many have been recently killed. What about the number of those gone missing or languishing in notorious jails in Istanbul and Ezmir??

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