Turkish Army Kills Civilian in Dersim

Murat Yildiz, a 28-year-old Kurdish man was killed by Turkish soldiers in Dersim (Tunceli) in eastern Turkey on 7 May 2021.

Local sources said that Yildiz may have been killed by a drone (UAV) attack which occurred near the village of Agacpinar.

Tunceli Gendarmerie Command said in a written statement that three members of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) were killed in the scope of “Operation Eren-7” in Tunceli and has released footage of the weapons and equipment allegedly belonging to the three people who died in a civilian car alongside Murat Yildiz. The earlier statements which were shared on the social media saying that “The operation was led by the Tunceli Gendarmerie Command and was assisted by the Turkish Air Force.” were deleted afterwards. At the time no official source shared any statement mentioning Murat Yildiz’s name or an incident concerning the targeted killing of a civilian.

Upon public reaction on the killing of Murat Yildiz -who was a great-grandson of a prominent spritual figure of the Dersim Alevi culture, Seyit Riza- official sources made contradictory statements. Murat Yildiz’s parents were summoned to the district gendarmerie headquarters and were asked to provide DNA samples for identification of a body. Yet the Governor’s Office of Tunceli said that “There is no civilian death and there has been no air or land bomb attack in any way.” The Governor’s office claims that “the terrorists detonated explosives in the vehicle.”  

Alican Onlu, People’s Democratic Party (HDP) MP for Tunceli gave an exclusive interview to SPOT regarding his visit to the Yildiz family. Onlu said that Mazlum Yildiz, father of Murat Yildiz was summoned to the Torunoba police headquarters where a police officer told him that his son’s car has been hit from the air. The father saw the remains of the vehicle and afterwards the remnants of the burnt body that still awaits identification. Onlu stressed that some social media accounts linked to the JOH (Gendarmerie Special Operations) members shared graphic images of the corpses which were deleted shortly after the official statements denying any drone (UAV) activity. Onlu also pointed out that the Governor’s Office has claimed that they have the video images of the full operation to deny the reports about a targeted killing of a civilian but have not not shared any recordings yet.

Dersim Bar Association has made a written statement calling for a comprehensive investigation into the incident, in their statement they highlight that “The villagers cited that there were two explosions, with helicopters and UAVs at the scene. Those who saw the vehicle reported that the vehicle was burnt and there were hundreds of bullet marks.”

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