It has been three years since the blockade of Turkey’s eastern town of Kurukoy, which saw the torture of 39 people. Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu defended the incident. All of the cases were documented. Victims spoke out about what they had experienced.
Nearly three years have passed since the curfew, which took place between February 11 and March 2, 2017, in Kurukoy (Xerabê Bava) of Mardin province. However, what happened during the curfew has not been forgotten despite all the years. Vedia Aykut, whose husband was among those tortured victims, keeps the memories of curfew alive by keeping her house-fire survivor teacup.
Turkish army mounted a large-scale operation in the region in the aftermath of the curfew. Authorities tore down many houses and ancient caves used as barns and storages by locals referring to them as “shelters.” Many animals were killed during the operation. Human Rights Association (IHD) has documented violations in the region and released it to the public.
Thirty-nine locals, who were abducted in the Turkish army’s operations and went missing for long periods, suffered tortures. One of the torture victim Abdi Aykut’s photo affirmed the torture allegations. Governance Office of Mardin and Ministry of Interiors had first denied torture accusations following the emerge of Aykut’s photo. However, Interior Minister Soylu said as to the incident, “We did nothing against the rule of law. That old guy provides shelter to terrorists” in a bid to defend the torture.
Also, three locals lost their lives during the curfew. Although the governor’s office of Mardin claimed those three were killed in a clash with the soldiers, witnesses said they were killed after they were captured alive.
Abdi Aykut, Hatip Tunç, Rıfat Bayhan, Behçet Koçan, İsmail Ay, Abdülmecit Bal and Vasfi Doğan were arrested by a local court on charges of “aiding a terrorist organization” following the Interior Minister Soylu’s remarks on the incident. The court released them six months later in the first hearing. They were acquitted of all charges later on, and the court condemned Interior Minister to pay TL 18 bin (roughly the equivalent to $3 thousand) in damage.
The traces of destruction- left behind the curfew which stirred a significant public discontent- remain intact. Even though locals restored some of the damage houses with the help of some civil society organizations, most of the curfew-torn houses are still waiting for reparations. They keep alive what they suffered by storing ammunition and detonators left after the curfew in sacks and garden walls covered with bullets.
Aykut, who was subjected to torture in custody, also bears traces of what he went through. After noting his being unable to overcome the psychological trauma of the incident and his aggravated health problems, Aykut said he hadn’t seen anything when they had taken him into custody. He said he retains what remained from those days in his home, even though memories of those days make him feel terrible. He also added that he has no desire to talk about anything regarding them.
Aykut’s wife, Vedia Aykut, also revealed that all their furniture was burnt down together with their home in the curfew period. She said she has been keeping her kids’ burned phones and a smudgy teacup and teaspoon, which were the only items left unburned from blazes.
“Every part of our houses was already burnt when we arrived. It became as black as coal. All around here was looking like coal until we cleaned up. They burned down our house. We had to sleep apart from our kids. My daughter and I stayed alone here for eight months. This teacup was left all alone here. Every place became like this teacup. I lived with this grief for eight months. I will never forget it as long as I live. What I witnessed will always be in my mind,” she said.