The bodies of People’s Defence Forces (HPG) and Free Women’s Units (YJA-Star) fighters who die in clashes with the Turkish army in the countryside around Şırnak (Şırnex) in southeast Turkey are initially kept for two weeks in the morgue at Şırnak State Hospital. After this time, without informing the families, the police take the bodies in armoured vehicles and bury them in a mass grave in the Bahçelievler neighbourhood. The families’ applications to receive the bodies are left unanswered.
The family of Kemal Selimi, an HPG fighter, who died in a clash in the Silopi district of Şırnak on 2 September 2020, is one of these families. They went to Şırnak from the Salmas district of Urmiye, Iran, after receiving the news of Kemal’s death. The family travelled hundreds of miles to identify the body at Şırnak State Hospital on 12 October 2020. However, they were unsuccessful on that visit to the hospital and they returned to Iran. Some time later the police summoned the family back to the city for a DNA sample.
On this occasion Kemal’s brother Argesh Selimi travelled to Şırnak to supply a DNA sample because his mother was unwell. However, after he had supplied blood for the sample and returned to Iran the officials called him saying the DNA had to come from the mother. Kemal’s mother Shoret Nurîzadê travelled back to Şırnak again two days ago, and gave a DNA sample, MA reports.
Shoret Nurîzade has been fighting for a year for her child’s body. She said that when as soon as they heard the news of her beloved son’s death, the family first flew to Istanbul, from there to Diyarbakır (Amed), and then travelled on to Şırnak by bus.
“The first time we came, the police and prosecution sent us back to Iran saying, ‘We do not take blood samples,'” she said.
“Then they called us back and asked us to go to Şırnak. I told them that I couldn’t go because I was unwell, and that my son would go instead. And they said to my son on the phone, ‘You come and give us a blood sample.’ My son went and gave the sample. Every day I prayed for blood to match. But after about 3 months, they called and said that I should go to give a sample for the DNA.”
Shoret travelled to Şırnak again on 6 October, but this time the police said her, “You have given blood once. We can’t pay for your tests over and over.”
Shoret insisted on giving the sample, and finally they took a sample from her too.
“It was an 11 hour journey. Do they have any conscience at all? I have come here to collect my son’s body despite all these difficulties.”
Shoret is a mother, she would like to take the body of her son to Iran, but she is not allowed.
“The Iranian regime won’t allow it. Hundreds of people, like my son, have died, but bodies have not been allowed to pass over the border. Even if I cannot take the body with me, I want to bury him in Van (Wan), the closest city to our home. At least I’ll know he has a grave. I wouldn’t be able to go to the grave every day, but I could go once a month.”