The Diyarbakır Bar Association has stated in a press conference on Wednesday that 67 children were killed in the 10 years between 2011 and 2021 by armoured vehicles, mines or remnants of armed conflict and war, and that 66 out of these 67 children were from Turkey’s Kurdish-majority eastern and southeastern provinces.
The report draws attention to impunity in the judicial proceedings ensuing fatal incidents. The report shares information about the files and court rulings regarding deaths of Efe Tektekin (5), who was run over by an armored vehicle in Diyarbakır on September 11, 2019; Muhammed Yıldırım (7) and Furkan Yıldırım (6) brothers, who were run over by an armoured vehicle that crushed down the wall of their house while they were sleeping in Şırnak’s Silopi on May 4, 2017; and Helin Hasret Şen (12), who was killed in the fire opened from an armored vehicle in Diyarbakır’s Sur on October 12, 2015. The report states that the judicial proceedings ended in impunity in these cases and emphasizes that such a policy of impunity for perpetrators is a major cause for such violations to continue.
49 children run over by armored vehicles
In the report, it is indicated that 22 children lost their lives and 27 children were injured by armored vehicles in Turkey in the last 10 years. While 21 of the deceased children were in the Kurdish-majority provinces, one child was in the western Marmara region.
Violations increasing after 2015
Bar Chairman Eren has indicated that the number of violations had increased after 2015 when the resolution process for the Kurdish question was ended.
The report finds that cases have increased and that 52 percent of the violations of rights occurred between 2016 and 2018 at the aftermath of the resolution process.
45 child deaths caused by remnants of war
The report’s section on “Violations of Child Rights Caused by Mines and Remnants of Conflict – War” underlines that the highest number of violations again happened in Kurdish-majority provinces.
While 55 children lost their lives as a result of war remnants in the region, 126 children were injured. In the Mediterranean and Aegean in the west, nine children in total lost their lives as a result of war remnants.
Recommendations in the report
In the conclusion part of the report, the Diyarbakır Bar also shares a series of recommendations to prevent child deaths caused by armored vehicles or explosions of mines and war-conflict remnants.
Emphasizing the importance of mine clearance efforts within this context, the report notes that the state should swiftly fulfil its obligations arising from the Ottawa Treaty. Asking for an amendment to the Highway Traffic Regulation, the report also recommends that armored vehicles be banned from entering city centres or their use be minimized. It should be ensured that they abide by urban speed limits if a complete ban is impossible. At this point, the report also underlines the importance of requiring the necessary driving licenses and other licenses and psychosocial support efforts for the ones who drive these vehicles.
Concluding the report, the Diyarbakır Bar also offers recommendations about the children injured in armored vehicle crashes and explosions of mines and war – conflict remnants such as prosthesis and rehabilitation centers, free provision of the prosthesis and their renewal according to actual needs instead of fixed periods since the growth of children is fast and also policies that will answer children’s needs for economic and social support. The Bar also requests an effective investigation and prosecution in such incidents and calls for an end to impunity.
The case of seven year old Mihraç Miroğlu in Idil
In one last case, it was reported that the police killed the seven-year-old Mihraç Miroğlu by crushing with an armoured car in Idil, Şırnak, while driving his bicycle on 4th of September 2021.
The police officer was not taken into custody after the event. His testimony was taken three days after the event, where he stated that he was not driving fast and did not intend to cause such an accident.
Mihraç’s father has reacted to this and asked how one shoe of his child could have flown to the roof of a nearby barn and his bicycle broken into three pieces if the vehicle were to be driven slowly?
In the report prepared by the traffic policemen, on the other hand, the seven-year-old bicycle rider Mihraç was cited as the “negligent party” based on the investigation and measurements made on the spot since he had violated the provision stating that “on the crossroads, the drivers approaching have to slow down and allow those with right-of-way to pass the crossroads before”.
There had been incredible anger and pain in Idil after the loss of Mihraç, where hundreds of people have protested the continuing cases of deaths and injuries caused by armored vehicles in the region.