RUNNING THROUGH THE JUNGLE

“Thought I heard a rumblin
Callin to my name,
Two hundred million guns are loaded
Satan cries, take aim!”
~ Credence Clearwater Revival, Run Through the Jungle.

On a cold November evening nearly two years ago, the Turkish state murdered a Kurdish father and son outside their home in Qoser (Kiziltepe). Their crime? They were Kurds.

The state’s murders of Ahmet and Ugur Kaymaz came at a very inopportune time for both Turkey and the EU. Within a month after the murders, on 17 December, 2004, to be exact, the EU was due to make the decision to open accession negotiations with Turkey. This had been the projected date for two years, since December, 2002, when the EU said that if Turkey met the Copenhagen political criteria (including criteria on democracy, rule of law, human rights, and respect for and protection of minorities) by December, 2004, negotiations would be opened.

Seen in this light, the Turkish media’s uproar over the murders was more a reaction to the potential jeopardization of the EU’s decision on accession negotiations, than a reaction to yet another injustice committed against the Kurdish people by the Ankara regime. With its economic future thus threatened, there was no choice but to make the requisite statements about getting to the bottom of the crime and calls for “justice” made all around, but judging from the speed with which the initial media uproar died down, it’s obvious that the indignation was strictly a matter of appearances. Ahmet and Ugur Kaymaz’ names were just two more on the long roster of names of those Kurds who had been murdered with impunity by the state.

The Interior Ministry conducted the investigation for the state, something that should have clued everyone that a cover-up was in the offing. The murders were committed by an Ozel Tim (Special Team) and, although the organizational structure of these teams is shrouded by the Deep State apparatus, there have been reported connections to the Interior Ministry, at least in the case of the police special teams (Ozel Hareket Timler). In its 1995 report on violations of the laws of warfare by the Turkish state, Human Rights Watch documented information given to them by former Turkish officers and soldiers. This evidence gives a description of the nature of the Ozel Timler/Ozel Hareket Timler:

According to V.A. [former TSK officer], the A Teams, like many of the Özel Tim, are recruited from the ranks of Turkey’s extreme, right-wing nationalist movement. “They are well-educated and extremely nationalistic,” V.A. explained, “and really hate Kurds and the PKK. Their primary motivation in life is to kill the PKK.” V.A. said that the A Teams are “so scary that even we Army officers were frightened of them. We never get in their way, and always try and remove ourselves if they are in the area.”

B Teams are comprised primarily of police as well as some ex-Army and Jandarma soldiers. The difference between A and B Teams, to the best of Human Rights Watch’s knowledge, appears to be in their designated targets. A Teams, which contain higher-status and better paid troops, are instructed to pursue more important PKK members than the B Teams.

[ . . . ]

All the persons interviewed for this report agreed that the police special forces are the gravest abusers of human rights among security forces in the southeast. According to a senior U.S. official in the Embassy in Ankara, for example, the “police special forces are brutal thugs.”125 Former Turkish officer V.A. said the Özel Hareket Tim were “abnormal elements” responsible for most of the torture, extrajudicial executions and other human rights abuses in the southeast. Former Turkish infantryman B.G. agreed with V.A.’s assessment, saying the Özel Hareket Tim were “independent of anyone and anything, and almost crazy with nationalism.” International Defense Review wrote that A teams are responsible for the final stages of “spot-to-kill” operations, in which suspected PKK guerrillas are killed on sight.126

Even the US has known for a very long time that these Ozel Tim creatures are “brutal thugs.” Still, the US goes on supporting them in full knowledge of the fact.

The report mentions that these teams belong to the Turkish general staff’s Special Warfare Department (OHD). How much the OHAL affected the command and control structure of the Ozel Timler is something we cannot tell. However, it’s reasonable to assume that the Turkish general staff would exercise more control under OHAL. Since, at the time of the Kaymaz murders, no OHAL existed, it may be that the Interior Ministry exercised greater control.

With this information about the Ozel Timler in mind, it should be no shock that Ahmet Kaymaz was described as a PKK member in the response to the the UN’s Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions. A complete report on the correspondence of the murder is carried by the New York University School of Law. The claim of PKK membership is typical of the Turkish state whenever it deals with Kurds or has to cover its filthy work of murdering them, and the case of Ahmet Kaymaz is no different. He had been accused of PKK membership on several previous occasions, but investigations by journalists for Britain’s The Independent and the WRMEA contradict this claim. From The Independent:

Kiziltepe’s [Qoser’s] mainly Kurdish residents have been traumatised after years of armed conflict. The Kaymaz family had to leave their own village because of the fighting. Ugur’s father, Ahmet, had been detained at least twice on suspicion of supporting the militants. He had no proven links to the PKK.

From the WRMEA:

Yet for many, the Kiziltepe [Qoser] incident was nothing particularly unusual. Ahmet was a member of the pro-Kurdish Democratic People’s Party (DEHAP) and had turned down an offer some years before to become a Village Guard-the pro-government Kurdish militia hired by Ankara to patrol settlements in the region. He may have had no connection to the armed Kurdish militants of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), or to its more recent incarnation as Kongra-Gel-or to one of its multiplying factions. Yet he would almost certainly have been on the list of “suspect” locals down at the local police post.

DEHAP supporters and human rights advocates claim that hundreds of similar incidents have occurred over the last two decades in southeastern Turkey.

So Ahmet Kaymaz was a Kurd, an IDP, a DEHAP member, and had refused to become a village guard. Each one of those characteristics alone is enough to put him in the Turkish state’s crosshairs.

Ugur Kaymaz is in a more interesting position vis-a-vis the state’s claims. Here is a boy of eleven years, who manages to attend school every day, help his father around the house, and, presumably, engages in normal eleven-year-old behavior with other children in the neighborhood. In spite of all of this, we are expected to believe that Ugur had a second life as a PKK gerîla who was involved in masterminding an attack against security forces in his own town. He must have been doing all this after finishing his homework.

In spite of the state’s claims of a shoot-out, the autopsies and examinations of bullet wounds in the bodies of Ahmet and Ugur indicate that a shoot-out was impossible [See the document at NYU School of Law]. Ugur Kaymaz had 13 bullets in his body, four in the hands and nine in the back. There were also gunpowder marks on him, indicating that the shooting happened at very close range. Ahmet Kaymaz had 8 gunshots in his body. 17 of the total 21 gunshot wounds were fired at a distance of within 50 centimeters (approx. 20 inches–less than 2 ft). Since when do you have a shoot out when you are less than two feet from someone? The autopsies also indicated that the bullets were fired from the same direction, another indication of no shoot-out.

As is usual with state murders, the murderers planted evidence near the bodies of Ahmet and Ugur, including Kalishnikov’s, Russian-made hand grenades, and magazines. This is similar to a murder committed by the state in November, 2003, in Istanbul, photos of which can be seen here.

Another claim of the state, that they had information that the PKK was planning an attack against security forces, was conveniently confirmed by a PKK “confessor,” who conveniently turned himself in to the state the day after the murders. The state widely uses “confessors” to verify its own claims, which is a sort of circular reasoning because “confessors” are virtual employees of the state. Many have agreed to become “confessors” under threat of torture while in detention. Since every Kurd under Turkish occupation is seen as a member of PKK by the state, every Kurd has the potential to become a PKK “confessor.” The fact is that the use of these “confessors” is an easy way out of having to establish proper evidence. They are part of the system of impunity created by the state. Unfortunately for the state, there is no proof that any of their PKK “confessors” have any connection whatsoever to the PKK.

Coincidentally, one week after the Kaymaz murders, another Kurd was murdered by security forces under similar circumstances. Fevzi Can, a shepherd living in a partially destroyed village near Semdinli (Şemzînan), was shot and killed by jandarma. They claimed that Fevzi was a terrorist who failed to stop after given the order, and the state would not release his body to his family unless they signed a statement to that effect. The state also attempted to characterize Fevzi as a smuggler who ran from security forces, abandoning the sheep he was allegedly smuggling. If true, the security forces failed to uphold the law, which states that smuggled goods, in this case the sheep, were to be confiscated. Instead the 448 sheep were returned without delay to their owner.

The Turkish media managed to overlook the state’s murder of Fevzi Can, but his is another name added to the long roster of Kurds murdered with impunity for the glory of the Turkish nation.

Why bring all this up now, almost two years after the murders? An update on the trial was published on TDN a couple of days ago. It appears that the most of the murderers are able to fit the trial into their busy, daily schedules. In other words, the murderers still walk free and they’re sticking to their story. They don’t appear too happy that foreigners are observing their trial and complain that foreigners never observe the trials of security forces killed by PKK. Absurd accusation, given that there are no trials for PKK gerîlas. PKK gerîlas are executed in the field by security forces in violation of laws of war.

But then, bullies are always crybabies.

Earlier in the week, I had to ask the question that the people of Amed were asking, which questioned the value of a Kurdish life. If the murderers of Ahmet and Ugur Kaymaz are convicted, we will know that two Kurdish lives are worth four years. Do the math; that’s two years for each.

Such a deal.

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