Outrage in Turkey over atrocities against Kurds

Authorities in Turkey's eastern Muş province have launched an investigation into the distribution of photos on social media showing the dead and mutilated body of a woman believed to be a militant of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). (See map) The governor's office confirmed that the woman in the picture was PKK militant Kevser Eltürk AKA Ekin Wan, who was killed in a clash with Turkish security forces on Aug. 10 in Muş' Varto district. The picture shows a naked woman, apparently dead, lying on the ground with bruises and blood visible on her body. Three men, whose faces are not seen, are seen standing near the body. Eltürk appeared to have finally been strangled, according to Democratic Regions' Party (DBP) regional co-chair Hamiyet Şahin, who washed the militant's body in preparation for burial. A protest march over the incident Aug. 16 was followed by a sit-in protest organized by the DBP that drew Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputies Gülser Yıldırım and Enise Güneyli. (Al Arabiya News, Aug. 19; Hurriyet Daily News, Aug. 17)

The PKK's armed wing, the People's Defense Forces (HPG) continues to claim credit for attacks across eastern Turkey. An Aug. 28 statement said that at least 35 soldiers and six police were killed in ongoing actions by the HPG  and affiliated Free Women's Troops (YJA Star) in response to the assualts and massacres committed by Turkish security forces against the Kurdish people. The statement said guerillas conducted a "sabotage action" against an army convoy in Hakkari on Aug. 27, leaving one military vehicle completely destroyed and four others heavily damaged. A total of 13 soldiers were killed in the action, after which the convoy retreated and helicopters "shelled the scene at random." (ANF, Aug. 28)

There are growing reports of non-cooperation with the Turkish military offensive. In Çeman (Başaran) village of Silopi district (Şırnak province), some 70 village guards reportedly resigned from duty in objection to the army's pressure on them to participate in military operations. One was quoted as saying: "We do not want to kill our brothers and sisters anymore." In an apparent reference to the now-shattered peace talks with the PKK. he added: "We trusted the process of solution and believed we would be granted some legal rights and not involved in the bloodshed after that. However, the war has started again and we will not be a party to it. The state can retire us from duty but shouldn't expect us to fight anymore." (KurdishInfo, Aug. 28)

In an apparent bid to reverse recent electoral gains by the HDP, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told voters to be ready for a re-run of parliamentary elections on Nov. 1. The hope is his ruling AKP will regain its majority, which Erdogan had been counting on to approve broad executive powers. (NPR, Sept. 1)

Meanwhile, in Iraq's northern Kurdish zone, outrage is growing to Turkey's ongoing air-strikes against PKK target. Especially at issue is an Aug. 1 air raid on the Qandil Mountain village of Zargala, where at least nine civilians were killed. The deaths provoked protests from Kurds worldwide—including the Twitter hashtag #BabyKillerErdogan. Even Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani joined in the chorus of outrage. "We condemn this bombardment that led to the martyrdom of people from the Kurdistan Region and call on Turkey not to bombard civilians again," Barzani said in a statement. (Al Monitor, Sept. 1)