Orhan Family: We won't give up the struggle for justice and truth

When Adnan Orhan was just 11 years old, his father, uncle and cousin were taken into custody and murdered. He knows that the perpetrator is the State, and that all governments cover this up. "We won't give up the struggle for truth and justice."

When Adnan Orhan was just 11 years old, his father, uncle and cousin were taken into custody and murdered. He knows that the perpetrator is the State, and that all governments cover this up. However, he says that his family will not stop to search for the truth.

Reminding that his father, uncle and cousin were detained in the 90s, Adnan Orhan said: "No government was sincere about the disappeared. It was a State issue. We will not give up our struggle."

The Turkish government forces, paramilitary structures and JITEM killed and forcibly disappeared thousands of people in Turkey and Kurdistan in the 90s. Some of the remains of the disappeared people were reached in the following years, but there are thousands of people still missing. The families of those who were forcibly disappeared or murdered started a weekly action in front of Galatasaray High School in Istanbul in 1995. The efforts of families who have been searching for the remains of their loved ones and for ensuring the killers to justice has never stopped.

The Orhan family lives in Amed and is one of these family fighting for justice and the truth.

Selim, Hasan and Cezayir Orhan were detained on 24 May 1994 and were never seen again. Their remains were eventually recovered upon the testimony of a witness who saw them being slaughtered. Since there were bone fragments belonging to 8 different people in the same mass grave, it was decided by the prosecutor that the grave will not be opened again.

Adnan Orhan explained to the ANF what the Orhan family has gone through.


Reminding that his father Selim, his uncle Hasan, and his cousin Cezayir were coming from Bolu that day in 1994, Adnan Orhan said: “We tried to prevent them from being taken into custody, we resisted, but they forcefully took them away. The soldiers hit my sister's ear with a gun and she is deaf. Wherever we applied to ask where they had been taken, the answer was the same, nobody saw them, nobody knew anything about them. Whatever government agency we applied to, they said they hadn’t take them."

Reminding that villages were burned in Kurdistan in those years, civilians were murdered and thrown on the rivers after being taken into custody, Adnan Orhan said: “We witness all this. We received news about a month after my father had been detained. They said that people who had been killed were thrown in a place in Kulp's Bağcılar district. My uncle and peasants set off to go and look at the bodies. Upon their arrival, they saw that there were 8 bodies dressed in guerrilla clothes. The bodies had been burned. My uncles and peasants cannot identify the people because my father, uncle and cousin were wearing civilian clothes when they were detained. So they could not identify them and returned. The village headman called the police station and asked what to do about those bodies. The commander of the police station told him to tell the villagers to dig a hole and toss them in and bury them. After many years, the place was opened and 8 bodies were found. A few bone fragments were removed and sent to the Istanbul Forensic Medicine Institute, and the applicant was informed that their DNA did not meet.”


Orhan, who saw the news that there had been digging in a place where 8 bodies were buried years ago and that the bones were taken to match DNA, said that he wanted to give a blood sample. He applied to the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor's Office through his lawyers: “My cousin did not come out: he is still missing. Also, after the DNA test was done, it was confirmed that three members of the Bulut family from Lice were in the same mass grave. We asked the Bulut family to separate the bones and give them to us, but the Prosecutor's Office informed us that the bones had gone missing. For two years, we have started looking for the bones again but Diyarbakır and Kulp prosecutors and the Forensic Medicine Institute kept throwing the ball to each other. As a result, it was revealed to our lawyers that the bones were in the municipality's cemetery, in the unknown people.

We made an application and we requested our bones again, but the prosecutor's office told us that the bones of 8 people were in a bag and that they would give the families the same way they were. We did not accept this. We declared that the bones should be separated. Upon this reaction, they sent a letter saying 'It was decided not to open the grave to avoid playing with the families’ feelings.”

Currently, the bones of 8 people are located in a single grave in the nameless cemetery in Kulp. We visit the tomb with the Bulut family."


Stating that he had experienced problems in many areas of his life after losing his father, Orhan stated that this was a big problem and shared the following: “You are losing your father at the age of 11-12 and all the responsibility of the family is on you. Obviously, while I was in school, I dreamed of being able to go and get a good job in the future. They prevented this by murdering my father. In fact, they also killed my future as well with my father. This situation had serious effects on my life. As if these were not enough, our village and our house were burned, we had to migrate to the city. We started fighting for life here. We struggled to get ourselves a life while always searching for my father’s killers. Since the establishment of the Saturday Mothers, we, as families of the disappeared, have been constantly involved in this struggle. The whole family had long-term traumas. Not just us, but all the families of the disappeared. Because there is always an expectation. This trauma keeps you in a negative circle. So your life is affected by this as a whole. We will not give up our struggle until someone is held accountable for what happened.”


Emphasizing that the State should take responsibility for the establishment of the truth and the normalization of the society, Orhan added: “The State is responsible with its dark structures. No account was ever asked by the State. Every government covered this up, because it is a State issue. Unfortunately, the last government also behaved like this. The next governments will do the same. Because to date, no steps have been taken to search for the truth, to ensure justice and normalise the society. We only want to shed light on the past and expose the truth. There have been people tried for the disappeared people, but they were not punished in any way. This shows the insincerity of governments in this matter."