Seven guerrillas from the People’s Defence Forces (HPG), who were killed during the ongoing Turkish military operations against the Kurdish fighters in the southeastern province of Şırnak (Şirnex) in July and August, have been buried by the Turkish authorities in a cemetery for unclaimed bodies.
According to the Mezopotamya agency, the bodies of the fallen HPG members were taken to the morgue of the Şırnak State Hospital, where three families seeking to identify their relatives provided DNA samples. However, it was reported that some of the bodies had been badly burned, making it impossible to identify them. After a 15-day waiting period, the bodies were buried in the city’s cemetery for the unidentified.
In addition to these seven people, the remains of 21 other HPG members, who died at different times, were buried in the same cemetery without any identifying markers.
Elif Bulut, a member of the Respect for the Deceased and Justice Initiative, stressed that the deceased have the right to a proper burial. However, “we are faced with a government that does not recognise any law, not even its own constitution,” she said.
Bulut stressed that burying identified people in cemeteries for the unidentified, rather than handing them over to their families, sends a political message from the state to the Kurds. She explained: “A person who has lost his life in a conflict cannot continue to fight after that. But the state, even after identifying them through DNA, has a policy of punishing their families, loved ones or comrades for a long time by not handing them over, with the aim of erasing their memory. The easiest way to do this is to bury them in cemeteries where their names, identities and histories remain unknown. If they are handed over to the families, they will disrupt the burial, preventing large crowds from attending and forcing a night burial with only a few family members”.
Bulut was adamant that the Turkish government’s stance on funerals and burials had no legal basis, and she stated unequivocally that the government was openly committing a crime.