The Turkish state launched a military operation – ‘Operation Claw Eagle 2’ – on 10 February in Garê Mountains within the borders of Iraq.
Turkey’s Garê offensive was launched reportedly using 41 Turkish fighter jets alongside a ground offensive operation involving 2,000 soldiers of the Turkish army. It was resisted by the Peoples’ Defence Forces (HPG). Three high ranking Turkish military officials – Ertuğ Güler, Burak Coşkun and Harun Turhan – were reported by the Turkish Defence Ministry to have been killed during the clashes. The HPG stated that not only the three names shared by the Turkish authorities, but also tens of Turkish soldiers were killed during the clashes.
Official statements by the Turkish authorities have also claimed that prisoners that were being held by the PKK were murdered by the PKK. These claims have been hotly disputed. In Turkey and internationally, critical voices have questioned the Turkish state’s narrative. Fréderike Geerdink, an independent journalist, has noted: “If the PKK wanted them dead, they would have kept them in the mountains right at the border, where the bombs never stop falling. The Garê mountains are in a part of the Kurdistan Region where Turkey bombs less and where there is less fighting, because it is further away from the border. And now suddenly we are asked to believe they shot the prisoners in the head? That’s simply just not the PKK’s modus operandi. On the contrary: the PKK has always shown willingness to come to an agreement with Turkey about the orderly release of prisoners, which has happened on numerous occasions before … But this time, the state was not interested”.
Testimonies provided by the relatives of prisoners that were being held by the PKK reveal that their relatives were held by the PKK for years and both the families and the prisoners being held by the PKK hoped and believed that the Turkish state would ensure their safe release years before the Garê operation was ever launched.
The camp with the prisoners held by the PKK was reportedly bombed by the Turkish air force
Official Turkish sources, later during the Garê operation, announced that the camp in which the PKK held some Turkish soldiers, police officers and officers of the Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MIT) as prisoners, had been targeted by Turkish forces. The prisoners had been captured by the PKK on different dates. The air strikes launched by the Turkish air force reportedly hit the camp where the Turkish prisoners were held.
The relatives of the prisoners held by the PKK and who were killed talked to Medya Haber TV after the camp was reportedly hit.
Musa Gıcır: ‘Nobody called us to inform us about anything’
Musa Gıcır, the father of Special Sergeant Ümit Gıcır who was one of the prisoners, stated that the Turkish authorities had shared no information with them regarding the well-being of his son and they had been watching the operation and hearing news from the TV only. “So, what we hear, we hear from the news. Nobody calls us to inform us [about anything]”, said Musa Gıcır.
“They have said that half of the citizens whose bodies were found were civilians whilst the other half included soldiers and police officers, but we have not been directly informed. We are just watching the events on the TV. This is a matter of mystery. The state does not state anything”.
The father reveals the details of his son’s letter
Gıcır revealed that his son wrote them a letter in 2018 and the letter was written in his son’s own hand-writing. “In his letter, he wrote that he was safe and sound and they have been kept waiting. He said: ‘If the state wants us back, the organization will let us go’. He wrote that they were in contact with the state and they were given the response: ‘Be patient, wait'”, said Gıcır.
Gıcır also mentioned his own attempts to hear about the situation of his son. “I also went to the Gendarmerie Bureau and asked [about the situation]. They told me there was no information”, he said.
Ayşe Kahveci: ‘I handed out my son to the state, I will take my son from the state’
Ayşe Kahveci, the mother of Special Sergeant Mevlüt Kahveci, one of the prisoners held by the PKK who was reportedly killed, also stated that she had trusted the state to care for the well-being of her son but they had been left waiting for years for her son to be returned.
“I handed out my son to the state, I will take my son from the state. I don’t know about the PKK. I have sent my son there for a duty, my address is the state”, she said. “I know the state – I don’t know the PKK. I have no idea about them. I have nothing to say to them. I will only deal with the state. I only tell what I tell to the state”.
Medya Haber TV, who called Ayşe Kahveci twice, learned during its second phone call that she had been hospitalized after learning about the news that her son had been killed in the Garê operation.