Officials generate public outcry for notifying family of deceased police officer in front of the press
DHA PhotosDistrict officials in Turkey’s southeastern Hatay province have generated public outcry by informing parents of a police officer killed in an attack by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) of their son’s death in front of cameras.
Officials in Hatay’s Hassa district, including the district governor, mayor of the district municipality, district police chief and the deputy police chief of Hatay, visited the family on Sept.15 to deliver news of Mehmet Tuhal’s death.
However, the officials did not pay the visit alone but allegedly brought along cameras and news reporters into the family’s house.
Tuhal’s parents, Mehmet and Feride, were informed of their son’s death in front of cameras and a group of strangers. The harshly criticized video and photographs, later published on the website of the district governor’s office, display the shock and sorrow of the old couple, who were calmed by healthcare teams also on site.
“All officials must complete the difficult task of delivering death notifications in utmost secrecy,” he said.
“This behavior is beyond explanation. All necessary administrative actions will be taken against it. Governors and mayors are there to alleviate the pain of the families of our martyrs, not to broadcast it live,” Davutoğlu added.
Meanwhile, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Head Devlet Bahçeli said the officials were “politically motivated” and “exploitive,” and asked for punishment.
“The tabloidization of martyrdom is an abasement and humiliation that must be punished. The sorrow of mother Feride Tuhal upon receiving news of her martyred son, the way she said ‘My Mehmet,’ cannot be overlooked by anyone with a conscience,” Bahçeli said.
Speaking to daily Hürriyet, a senior law enforcement official explained the official procedures in delivering death notices to families of deceased soldiers and police officers. Accordingly, the offices of the prime minister and the president are asked to not call families until the family is properly informed. In such circumstances, a doctor and an ambulance always accompany officials and the press is never notified.
On the other hand, the office of the governor in Hassa released a statement denying having informed the press.
“We tried to keep our visit a secret and did not ask any members of the press to accompany us. When we arrived at the house, we saw the press was already there. I personally ordered them to leave. Nonetheless, it later came out that a member of the press stayed and secretly videotaped as we delivered the news. In a private discussion with that person, the press member also admitted secretly videotaping,” the statement read.
However, photographs from the visit to the Tuhal’s were published on the district governor’s website in a gallery titled “Bitter news of our martyr causes sorrow in family home” and also shared on Twitter.
The Hatay Governor’s Office had initially released a statement supporting the claims of District Governor Mustafa Pala, alleging that a news agency worker was responsible for secretly recording the footage.
“We regretfully condemn those responsible for leaking the video recorded in secrecy, violating journalistic ethics,” the statement said.
However, the governorate released another statement on the afternoon of Aug. 17, withdrawing its support from Pala.
Hatay Governor Ercan Topaca announced that an investigation, led by the deputy governor of Hatay, had been launched to discover what really happened during the visit on Sept. 15.
Topaca claimed that he was “misled” by the district governor, who he said omitted certain information while reporting.
Police officer Tuhal was killed on Sept.15 when PKK militants remotely detonated a mine placed on the Hakkari-Van motorway during the passing of an armored vehicle holding a convict.
The funeral of 29-year-old Tuhal was held in Hassa on Sept.16 with the attendance of over 5,000 citizens.