Kurdish MPs in Turkey’s parliament demand an investigation into the forced disappearances of Kurdish politicians, businessmen and community leaders during the height of the country’s conflict with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the 1990s.
At least 1,353 individuals have disappeared after being taken into custody, Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (DEM Party) MPs from the southeastern Şırnak (Şirnex) province said in the inquiry they submitted to parliament.
There are over 17,000 unsolved killings in the country’s history from the same period, a significant portion of which is attributed to state forces during the same conflict.
The inquiry was submitted on the 23rd anniversary of the disappearance of two Kurdish politicians, Ebubekir Deniz and Serdar Tanış, who had faced threats after establishing the local branch of a since shuttered pro-Kurdish party in Şırnak’s Silopi (Silopiya) district.
Deniz and Tanış have not been heard from since 25 January 2001, and were last seen headed to the gendarmerie outpost. While authorities initially denied ever having taken the politicians into custody, pressure from civil society led to Şırnak’s governor at the time to admit to them having briefly “visited” the Gendarmerie Command.
A previous investigation ended in a dismissal in February 2004, MPs Ayşegül Doğan, Mehmet Zeki İrmez and Nevroz Uysal Aslan said.
“Thousands of disappearances and murders, including those of Tanış and Deniz, have still not been brought to light, having unfortunately been swept under the rug,” the MPs said. “Crimes against humanity cannot be covered up with policies of impunity and statutes of limitations.”
“There are various illegal networks within the state who have organised themselves into a mafia, and these gangs have resorted to all manner of inhuman acts in order to destroy the will of the people in this region,” DEM Party Silopi Co-chair Adnan Kaplan said in a demonstration in the province to mark the anniversary.
The People’s Democracy Party (HADEP) had won overwhelming support in the community at the time, and its members including Tanış and Deniz were targeted “in order to prevent it from conducting politics”, Kaplan added. “They were subjected to inhuman treatment, had their families threatened, and jailed.”