The Turkish state has a record of not returning the bodies of a number of Kurdish fighters who died during the clashes with the Turkish armed forces. This attitude of the state and government has been condemned by various human rights organisations, since respect for the dead is one of the international rules of war.
Fazile Polat has experienced a hostile attitude for years and all her legal attempts to retrieve his remains have remained inconclusive. Her son Rıdvan Polat was a People’s Defence Forces (HPG) fighter who lost his life during an airstrike in the Garzan region of Bitlis (Bedlîs) in Turkey in 2017. The family was called to the police station at Yüksekova district of Hakkari (Colemerg) a few days after he had been killed.
The first thing the Turkish police did when the family arrived at the station was to ask the family: “How did your son join the HPG?” They then informed the family that their son had been killed. “Even a handful of ashes, let them give me the bones of my son”, Fazile Polat said as she spoke to Jin News.
When her son’s death was also confirmed by Kurdish media, she started searching for the body of her son. “Every way that we could, we searched for his body. We provided DNA samples and they told us that the DNA results would be released three months later”, she said.
Even after four years, the Polat family has not been informed whether any remains were found matching their DNA samples. The police stations, the Forensic Medicine Institute, the Prosecutors’ Offices are all places where the Polat family has been knocking on doors, seeking assistance from authorities that could be of help to find her son’s remains.
“We acted upon any new piece of information we received. We travelled to Bitlis a few times and searched for my son’s remains ourselves there, but we could not find anything”, she said, adding: “My only demand is to reach out to the body of my son: even a handful of ashes, I want to bury my son. It is enough we suffered from this war: we want peace”.