A court in Diyarbakır (Amed), southeast Turkey has unceremoniously delivered to family members the remains, now bones, of Hakan Arslan, a young man killed when the Turkish government sent military forces to crack down on cities in the mostly Kurdish southeast in 2015, Mezopotamya News Agency reported.
Hakan Arslan’s father, Ali Rıza Arslan, travelled to the Diyarbakır court building to collect his son’s remains nearly seven years after he was killed. Footage published by Mezopotamya shows the bereaved father leaving the court holding on to a plastic bag containing his son’s bones.
Hakan Arslan’s remains were discovered in February 2021 by workers in an excavation site near a church in Diyarbakır’s historic Sur district, which was the scene of heavy fighting from 2015 to 2016.
Arslan’s parents submitted DNA tests last October to prove that the bones belonged to their son. Although the results of the test came back positive in November, they were forced to wait for another ten months to retrieve his remains.
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government launched heavy military crackdowns on cities which harboured strong support for Kurdish self-governance in 2015, after the breakdown of peace talks with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Arslan was one of many casualties in the militarised security operations, which also saw 24-hour curfews imposed on large sections of the city, displacing thousands of residents.
This month, the family of slain Kurdish guerrilla Mercan Erkol said they had been struggling to retrieve their daughter’s remains for six years, but Turkish authorities had refused to turn them over.
A human rights lawyer in Turkey, Ayşe Acinikli recently wrote about the racist discrimination suffered by Kurdish people in Turkey, even in death.