İstanbul Deputy and investigative journalist Ahmet Şık reported on the incidents in Turkey that caused the death of Servet Turgut – who had reportedly been thrown off a military helicopter on 11 September 2020 in Van (Wan) – and the serious injury to Osman Şiban.
Ahmet Şık announced the release of the report at a press conference in the Assembly. Prepared by himself and his colleague Yılmaz Ruhi Demir, he stated that it was a “fact-check report comprising field research, exploration, detection and interviews, focusing on the claim that two citizens, Servet Turgut and Osman Şiban, were thrown off a military helicopter on 11 September 2020”. The report included statements by Osman Şiban. Their report clarified that requests to speak to officials including the Commander of Van Gendarmerie, the Governor of Van, the Chief Public Prosecutor of Van and the prosecutor working on the case had been rejected.
Beatings whilst in the helicopter
Osman Şiban, who was injured and who continues to be medically treated in Mersin, told Ahmet Şık that he and Servet Turgut were beaten after being forcibly taken by soldiers and put into a helicopter by 15-20 soldiers who had been conducting an operation: “There were about 15-20 soldiers in the helicopter, I don’t remember exactly. They did not say anything accusing us, neither when they took us from the village nor in the helicopter. I was looking at the soldier like that, he punched me in the face. He was hitting me saying: ‘Looking is prohibited, talking is forbidden, looking left and right is prohibited’. He was hitting my face. They were hitting Servet too”.
”They made speeches over the radio. They were talking to each other. I heard them say things like ‘Bring it to Van’s barracks'”. Şiban stated: “I could see that they punched Servet once, too. Then I couldn’t see because our heads were down, but they beat us a lot in the helicopter. I heard a soldier say: ‘Don’t beat this old man, this old man will die’, referring to Servet. I don’t know if he was a commander”.
Attacked by 100-150 soldiers
In the report, Şiban’s statement regarding their ill-treatment was reported. Around 100-150 soldiers had gathered to meet them when they were thrown out of the helicopter after it landed: ”Maybe there were 100-150 soldiers. Surrounded by soldiers, they were waiting, ready. They also had guns. Someone said: ‘Get those terrorists down’. I looked, two soldiers came up. First they threw the dead bodies (of PKK militants). Then they threw us out too. We were pushed through the helicopter’s door behind us. We fell to the ground. We were just on the ground. I heard someone say: ‘What if this terrorist is alive?’ Then those 100-150 soldiers that I saw ran over to us. They were kicking, punching us”.
Şiban described the intense beating they received from the soldiers gathered around them: ”They drove us to the ground. There were ten or twenty soldiers at the head of each of us. They all caught up and beat us. They threw us to the ground and then they crushed me. They beat us in the helicopter and then there outside. They called us ‘terrorists’ when they were beating us. But we are peasants, citizens. They called us terrorists. I don’t know how long it took. I had a blackout there”.
Posing as civilians
The report also included the statements of two witnesses regarding the autopsy of Servet Turgut, who died after being in a coma for 20 days. They stated that Van Public Security Corps Commander Major General Hüseyin Kurtoğlu and Van Provincial Gendarmerie Commander Brigadier Yüksel Yiğit pretended to wait as civilians in front of the Forensic Medicine Institute for 3-4 hours.
Şık stated that the allegation that Şiban and Turgut were thrown from helicopters was first made by the gendarmes who brought them to the hospital. When they were brought in for medical treatment, the gendarmes dressed up as civilians who brought Turgut and Şiban to the hospital addressed the hospital staff and other people there and said: “These are terrorists. We caught them during a clash, but they tried to escape by jumping off the helicopter”. Following on from these statements, the report’s findings suggest that one can see how the allegations about them “falling of, or being thrown off” a helicopter originated from the perpetrators themselves. One can see how the epicrisis report that was written for Osman Şiban in Van Training and Research Hospital showed that he sustained “injuries caused by falling off a helicopter” as it was influenced by these initial perpetrator statements.
The official lie
Şık and Demir’s report concludes that it is apparent that the allegations concerning the “throwing off of the citizens from the helicopter”, which shaped public discussion and were taken up by the opposition, rights activists and the media, have originated from the perpetrators who tried to hide the real story by inventing this “official lie”.
The report suggests that the “lie” of the perpetrators has turned into “truth” in order to conceal what was really inflicted on Osman Şiban and Servet Turgut: mass beatings, torture and the lynching of these citizens. It is clear from Osman Şiban’s statement that “falling off, or being thrown off” the helicopter was just one detail of an entire night of torture and lynching that resulted in the murder of one citizen and serious injury to the other. The report also noted the way in which Mesopotamia Agency (MA) journalists were arrested for trying to investigate what happened.