Due to the ongoing ‘war politics’ in Turkey, minefields in the east and south-eastern regions of Turkey pose a threat to people and animals. People continue to live in fear of their lives and of hearing news about explosions in minefields killing their relatives, friends and neighbours.
On 21 March, two children, Yusuf Ata (14) and Caner Sak (16) lost their lives by stepping onto a mine in Yekmal hamlet of Uludere district of Sirnak (Sirnex). However, this explosion that took took their lives at the back of the Yekmal Gendarmerie Station in the village is not the first such explosion taking civilians’ lives or severely injuring or disabling them or animals in the vicinity. Villagers reported to Mesopotamia Agency that a child lost his leg as a result of a mine explosion in the same area and dozens of animals have been killed in the same way.
The area around Yekmal Gendarmerie Station is full of mines but the villagers have to go there as part of their livelihood and to graze their animals since the only way to make a living there is through animal husbandry. The families of the two children who lost their lives in the mine explosion stated that their bodies were not shown to them before burial. They want this dangerous ‘minefield situation’ resolved immediately. They noted that they were forced through circumstance to graze their sheep in the same area even after the explosion that killed their children.
‘Our hearts burned. I do not want it to happen to any other family’
Naime Sak, the mother of 16-year-old Caner Sak, stated that she was not allowed to see her son even for the last time before he was buried. “My son was a student. He started high school this year. We had breakfast at home that morning and then he went to graze the animals with his friend Yusuf”, she recalls.
“All the villagers go there either to have a picnic or to graze their animals. We also earn our living from animal husbandry and Caner was always going there to graze the animals. A few hours after he left, news of the explosion came. We went there and I wanted to see my son, but before we arrived, the soldiers had taken my son’s body by helicopter to the morgue at Şırnak State Hospital. They didn’t let me see my son. Our hearts burned. I do not want it to happen to any other family. They should find a solution to this problem”, she stated.
Kaze Ata, the grandmother of 14-year-old Yusuf Ata, observed that her grandson had gone for a picnic that day. “Yusuf woke up early in the morning. He said: ‘I’m going for a picnic’. We do not know how these children died. This region is full of mines. This explosion happened after Yusuf and Caner ate their meals and drank their tea. We could neither see their bodies, nor their injuries. We went to Şırnak to see their bodies, but they didn’t even let us see them there. They didn’t show them to any of us. We are in so much pain”.