Villagers who voted 'No' in referendum forced to leave home

Residents of Van's Belencik village were threatened and forced to leave their homes because they voted 'NO' in April's referendum.

It came out that residents of the Belencik (Wast) village in Van's Başkale district, where a high rate of 'NO' votes prevailed in April's referendum for presidential system, were forced to leave their homes by threats of the clan leader İskender Ertuş and village guard Selim Bozkurt.

According to reports, village guard Selim Bozkurt opened fire on the homes of villagers on June 1st, saying: “I will not let you live here in peace”. Almost the entire village has been evacuated due to threats.

A villager who asked to remain anonymous, told the followings as to what they have been through:

“We have been living in this village as a large family for many years. I served as a village guard due to pressures in the past but I never used my gun for an attack. The village guard and clan leader İskender Ertuş's man Selim Bozkurt was constantly oppressing the people with his gun. Most recently, he threatened the villagers with gun last week, and uttered threats as he opened fire around. We had to lock our doors and leave the village late in the evening, even before breaking fast.

We have left the village but we are facing both financial and emotional difficulties now. We were targeted and labelled terrorists only because we said 'No' in the referendum by using our most democratic right.There are only Selim Bozkurt and his family and two handicapped people left in the village where there are 200 houses. Residents of 60 more houses left yesterday. We locked up our doors and left our homes without taking anything with us. We have no security of life and we call for sensitivity.”