The police sergeant involved in the tragic death of a 5-year-old Kurdish boy was released on Thursday, sparking outrage as he shifted blame onto the child and claimed he was “following the rules” when the incident occurred. The incident took place in Yüksekova (Gever), a district in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish Hakkari (Colemêrg) province, where the young boy, Erdem Aşkan, lost his life after being struck by the police sergeant’s vehicle on Wednesday.
While the sergeant blamed the child for the incident and claimed he was within the speed limit, the driver of the vehicle in front disputed the claim that he was driving at 60 kilometres per hour, stating, “He was coming at least at 150 kilometres per hour. He was coming so fast that I didn’t yield. I observed him overtaking from my right side. It was a reckless manoeuvre. I honked when I noticed the child. The mother even held the child back to prevent him from entering the road. Despite my honking, he was moving so swiftly that he struck the child in that instant.”
The police sergeant, identified as Alper Kağan P., was released under judicial control after providing a statement in court. However, this decision has sparked outrage among the grieving family and their lawyer, Ömer Faruk Aşkan, who expressed moral concerns regarding the incident report’s portrayal of the child as at fault. Aşkan emphasised, “We see that, in the report, the police sergeant who sustained a broken nose during the incident was made the main victim of the incident, not the child who lost his life due to the high speed and violation of traffic rules.”
Meral Danış Beştaş, an Erzurum (Erzirom) MP from the pro-Kurdish Green Left Party, also condemned the incident report that primarily blames the child. In a tweet, Beştaş expressed her dismay, stating, “The child’s life was cut short before he had the chance to grow up. The sergeant responsible for the accident was released with a travel ban and judicial restrictions on driving. The incident report portrays the child as primarily at fault, holding him responsible for his own death. Kurdish children are consistently deemed guilty, regardless of whether they are alive or dead. The judgment never changes.”
A study conducted by Turkey’s Hafıza Merkezi (Memory Centre) titled “If They Hadn’t Been Killed, They Would Have Been Our Friends” revealed that between 2000 and 2020, 385 children lost their lives in “accidents” involving vehicles driven by Turkish security forces. This study highlights the systemic nature of violence in these collisions, which disproportionately occur in Kurdish-majority provinces. The report provides several accounts of child deaths caused by Turkish security forces since 2000, highlighting the urgent need for attention and justice in these cases.
In 2001, 11-year-old Gazal (Xezal) Beru was tragically killed in Bingöl when soldiers instigated a dog to attack her.
In 2011, 19 children aged between 13 and 18 were killed in Roboski due to bombardment by warplanes.
In 2015, 11-year-old Beytullah Aydın fell from the seventh floor in Diyarbakır/Bağlar after being chased by the police.
In 2017, brothers Muhammed, 7, and Furkan Yıldırım, 6, lost their lives in Silopi when they were hit by an armoured police vehicle while sleeping in the living room of their house.
In 2021, 7-year-old Mihraç Miroğlu was fatally struck by an armoured vehicle while riding his bicycle to buy bread.