The graveyard of the Kurdish Kaymaz family, who lost their father, Ahmet Kaymaz, and 12-year-old son, Uğur Kaymaz, in a 2004 police shooting, has been vandalised for the second time.
🔴The graveyard of the Kurdish Kaymaz family, who lost their father, Ahmet Kaymaz, and 12-year-old son, Uğur Kaymaz, in a 2004 police shooting, has been vandalised for the second time.#UgurKaymaz | #JusticeForAll | #ECHRhttps://t.co/SOCKFSwYfK pic.twitter.com/SuLm79Bz7D
— MedyaNews (@1MedyaNews) November 17, 2023
This incident in the Kurdish-majority southeastern district of Kızıltepe (Qoser), Mardin (Mêrdîn) province in Turkey, brings back painful memories of the day when Uğur and his father were fatally shot right outside their home. The attack, which occurred on 21 November 2004, had deeply affected the local Kurdish community and continues to resonate years later.
Following the first attack, local citizens voluntarily restored Ahmet Kaymaz’s damaged gravestone. However, it was soon discovered that the grave had been targeted once more. Mustafa Polat, one of the residents who repaired the grave, found the gravestone shattered again upon his return.
Expressing his frustration, Polat said, “It seems someone is bothered by [the community’s effort to restore the gravestone]. The next day, it was damaged again. It’s been 19 years since a 12-year-old was shot 13 times, and yet they still tamper with his grave. After killing him, at least let him rest in peace.” Polat, who is of the same age as Uğur Kaymaz, shared that he has been profoundly impacted by Kaymaz’s story since he first heard of it at 15.
Polat, having recently moved to Kızıltepe, has called on the Kurdish community to “protect our values”, expressing disbelief at the lack of response to the repeated desecration. He vowed to repair the gravestone again, urging self-reflection if even a gravestone cannot be protected.
The case of Uğur Kaymaz
On 21 November 2004, in Kızıltepe, Mardin, Uğur Kaymaz and his father Ahmet were killed by security forces under the allegation of being terrorists. Twelve-year-old Uğur was killed in front of his home while wearing slippers.
The case led to the trial of four police officers: Mehmet Karaca, Yaşafettin Açıkgöz, Seydi Ahmet Döngel and Salih Ayaz. They were prosecuted without detention. The request for their detention was consistently denied and they were ultimately acquitted by the Eskişehir Heavy Penal Court on 18 September 2007. The court ruled that the police acted in self-defence. This verdict was upheld by the Court of Cassations.
The Kaymaz family then appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), claiming that Uğur’s right to life had been violated. The ECHR asked Turkey to clarify whether the killing of Uğur and his father was a last resort and whether proportional force was used.
In its defence, Turkey claimed that the initial shots were fired by the father and son, alleging they were engaged in terrorist activities. However, forensic reports indicated that Uğur was killed by 13 close-range shots and could not have been carrying a weapon due to his small size. The court also noted inconsistencies in the officers’ statements and the physical evidence.
In February 2014, the ECHR ruled that Turkey violated Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which concerns the right to life. The operation resulting in Uğur and Ahmet Kaymaz’s deaths was not planned to minimize risk, and the use of lethal force was deemed unnecessary. The ECHR awarded compensation to the Kaymaz family for material and moral damages.