Children in the Kurdish-majority southeast of Turkey are enduring severe violations of their rights, especially in relation to the ongoing Kurdish conflict, as revealed by a report of the Diyarbakir (Amed) branch of the independent Human Rights Association (İHD) on Monday.
In its report, ‘2022-2023 Child Rights Violations in the Southeastern Anatolia Region’ released on 20 November, the İHD highlighted the plight of Kurdish children amid ongoing conflict in the region.
İHD Director Jiyan Ormanlı, speaking at the unveiling of the report, emphasised the aim of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to shield society’s most vulnerable members from war, poverty and disease. Ormanlı also noted the unresolved fate of numerous children orphaned by the twin earthquakes which devastated the Kurdish-majority region on 6 February.
The report detailed a harrowing year for Kurdish children: Three lost their lives to extrajudicial executions by law enforcement in urban areas; official errors and negligence claimed the lives of another four and caused injuries to 254. Explosives in conflict zones severely wounded three children. In a worrying trend, 19 children died under suspicious circumstances, predominantly in Urfa (Riha), Mardin (Mêrdin) and Şırnak (Şirnex) provinces.
The mental toll of these conditions is evident. Ten children, driven to despair, took their own lives in urban areas, with four more attempting suicide. Most child suicides occurred in Şırnak and Mardin, including a tragic case within a prison. Domestic violence claimed at least four young lives and injured one, with two facing sexual abuse at home. Violence in public spaces led to eight deaths and 13 injuries, while at least 279 children suffered sexual abuse or assault. Four children were abducted, and three were coerced into prostitution.
The report’s most alarming statistic is the arrest of at least 191 children, with three remanded in custody pending trial. At least 19 children experienced torture and ill-treatment, both in detention and elsewhere.