"Corpses are tortured to increase the suffering of families"

MEBYA-DER co-chair Şeyhmuz Karadağ remarked over the Turkish state's attacks on corpses and graveyards, saying, "The corpses are tortured to increase the suffering of the families."

Şeyhmuz Karadağ, co-chair of the Association for Solidarity with Families Who Lost Their Relatives in the Cradle of Civilizations (MEBYA-DER), spoke to ANF about the ill-treatment and torture of bodies and attacks on graveyards. Karadağ cited the cases of guerrillas who lost their lives in an armed clash with Turkish state forces in 2019 and were abandoned at the scene for months. He said the families are tortured psychologically by such incidents.


Karadağ told the following: "In 2019, 4 PKK members lost their lives in the rural areas of Lice. In the heat of summer, those corpses remained at the scene of clashes for 45 days. At that time, the families of the fallen guerrillas were also making applications to our institution. After 45 days, deputies, families and members of our institution went to retrieve the corpses, which did not have physical integrity anyway, so the families ended up collecting the parts of bodies from the trees.

Families had to experience their pain more intensely during those 45 days. Of course, such torture methods are applied to almost all corpses. It was also a form of torture that the remains of Mother Halise’s son were sent to her in a plastic box. When we visited her, I sae that Mother Halise had been totally devastated."


Explaining the difficulties experienced by families during the process of taking the mortal remains of their children, Karadağ said, "We do our best to be with the families that apply to us. Those who accompany the families from our institution are generally prevented. They try to isolate the family. They say, 'If someone from the MEBYA-DER is with you, we will not allow you to bury your corpses'.


Karadağ continued, "When the family members of a guerrilla fallen in Dersim entered the bathing cubicle to wash the body of their children, they saw that his eyes had been removed and his skin had been burned. There were no traces of bullets. He had been killed with chemical weapons.

The attacks on cemeteries are another dimension of psychological torture. As if demolishing the cemeteries was not enough, they also burn graveyards down. For example, they burned the cemetery in Sisê village of Lice on a feast day. The anger of the families against these torture methods is growing. Anyone who has a little sense of humanity and conscience would not accept these actions anyway.”


Stating that the police often do not give the corpses to the families and bury them in the cemeteries of the nameless, Karadağ gave the following information: "For example, a building has been constructed in the cemetery in Malatya, which they use as a so-called morgue, where they bag all the corpses and pile them on top of each other there. When DNA results from one of those bodies come out, they turn on the cooling system there. Thus, the corpses become rigid like trees, because when they suddenly turn on the cooler, which remains off for a few months, the corpses freeze immediately.

It is also a torture for the corpses to decay there. We are talking about a system that is hostile to dead bodies. When families receive the bodies, they also have the fulfillment of religious obligations prevented. Apart from that, for instance, the DNA samples of 2 female guerrillas who have died in Lice in the last 3 months are not being taken. Their families are also tormented, and all their applications are rejected."


Karadağ concluded with the following words: "They want families to kneel before them. But families have neither kneeled down nor bent the head for years. We promise that we will not leave the families alone. No matter what, we will be standing with our families. Applications from families are important to us. We have branches in Batman, Mardin Amed, Cizre, Van, Çukurova, Istanbul and Izmir.”