After his village was ‘evacuated’ by Turkish state forces in the 1990s, the Kurd Ebubekir Yağarcık moved to Şırnak (Şirnex), but even in moving there, there was no respite: Yağarcık’s home was raided 111 times. Now aged 90, Yağarcık sets an example for many oppressed communities in Turkey, given his commitment to life-long civil disobedience.
Before state directed targeting became pronounced for Yağarcık, he had been living in Rubar village in Şırnak. However, during the 1990s, things become more extreme for the Kurdish villagers living mostly in eastern and southeastern Turkey. One by one, the villages were raided by the security forces of the state and hundreds of thousands of Kurdish villagers (some studies indicate well over a million civilians) were forcibly displaced as many villages were razed to the ground.
Ebubekir Yağarcık had to move to Şırnak’s Cizre district after his village was ‘evacuated’, but the intense state pressure he suffered never come to an end in Cizre as well.
Breaking his door and windows down, rummaging through his belongings at home, Turkish security forces raided his home 111 times. Yağarcık had to change his address tens of times due to the never-ending police and soldier raids, intimidation and harassment.
When Yağarcık was detained by the security forces for the first time in his life, he spent 13 months in jail.
“There was an intense pressure on the Kurds in the 1990s. After I was released, they raided my home again and they detained me. I was subjected to electro-shock torture for eight days,” he said in an interview with Mesopotamia Agency. “For those eight days, I was not given proper food: I was just given pieces of bread and water. Since that torture, my vocal chords have been permanently damaged. I had committed no crime: they had no evidence against me. Yet, the judges sent me to prison on charges of aiding a [terrorist] organisation. ”
“I was put in a cell with six other inmates. We were afraid. They could kill us there and then and they could legitimise this. We had to keep shouting to avoid dying there. So I kept hitting the door of the cell to make my voice heard for the other prisoners to hear us for the three months I spent in that cell.”
The raids to Yağarcık’s home have continued in what appears to be a “systematic” manner. All members of his family were detained, jailed and subjected to torture at least once. “I will never give my blessing to this state,” he said. “From my eight year old daughter to my 20 year old son, there have been no children of mine who have not been detained at least once.”
“In one of the raids, they stripped my son naked and took him outside under the rain: they made him wait, naked, and soaked under the rain.”
Every time his home was raided, the security forces ordered him to “kneel down” as he was verbally and physically abused. “Not once did I kneel for them,” he said. “In a police raid in 2020, I told a police chief: ‘You raided my home 111 times. This is shameful for Turkey: each time, you try to force me to kneel before you, but as you see, I never will kneel before you!'”
“I will never forget the tyranny of the state”, Yağarcık added. “Besides, the state has never let me forget”.