Missing civilian apparently killed in drone attack in Dersim

A Kurdish civilian missing for two days in Dersim has apparently been killed in a Turkish army drone strike. The parents of the 28-year-old were asked by the gendarmerie to provide samples for a DNA test.

A 28-year-old Kurd from Dersim who has been missing since Friday is apparently dead. Murat Yıldız is believed to have died the same day in a Turkish army drone strike on his vehicle. The man's parents were asked by the gendarmerie (military police) to provide samples for a DNA test. "Identifying the car was not possible for me," Mezopotamya News Agency (MA) quoted the father, Mazlum Yıldız, as saying. He said there was "less than a wreck" left of the burned-out vehicle. Yıldız is a great-grandson of "Pîr Sey Rızo" (Seyit Riza), the spiritual and tribal leader of the Dersim Alevi resistance to the 1937/1938 genocide.

According to available information, Murat Yıldız left his village of Aşağıtorunoba (Kilmer) in Ovacık district on Friday to build a new shelter for the family's herd of animals in a mountain pasture in the region. Witnesses observed that his vehicle was being followed by three armored cars, told the young man's father. The deadly drone attack occurred not far from the village of Ağaçpınar (Haçkirek), which is about 17 kilometers northeast of Aşağıtorunoba. According to the Ovacık District Gendarmerie Command, there were three people in Murat Yıldız's vehicle who allegedly "fired at a military helicopter from the car." One of the occupants was said to be "physically impaired," the gendarmerie said. "How can the soldiers claim to have recognized that one of the persons had a disability?" asks Mazlum Yıldız. The man assumes a coordinated action as a result of a denunciation.

There is no official statement on the incident yet. The gendarmerie tweeted on Sunday a photo showing weapons seized in the course of a "special forces operation involving three dead terrorists." Meanwhile, Murat Yıldız's parents were summoned to the district gendarmerie headquarters. There, they were asked to provide samples for DNA matching at the Malatya Forensic Medicine Institute. The father of the missing man has announced that he will appear before the authorities tomorrow, Monday. Before that, a corresponding order must be obtained from the public prosecutor's office in Ovacık.

HDP deputy Alican Önlü described the incident in Ovacık as a "war crime" during a visit to the Yıldız family. He recalled that "numerous" civilians have been murdered by Turkish security forces in the past five years, especially in the area around the Venk Creek and in the Pülümür Valley. "Then it is always said, and quite quickly, that they were 'organization members' who were 'neutralized with their weapons.' And this is despite the fact that in all these cases it has been established that they were civilians," Önlü said.

In the current case, there is "a lot of talk" surrounding the circumstances of the death of the person believed to be Murat Yıldız, Önlü continued. "Assuming that guerrilla fighters had got on his car, this still does not constitute legitimization for the targeted killing of a civilian. This is a war crime,” he added.