Suspicious deaths of three soldiers raise serious concerns

Suspicious deaths of three soldiers raise serious concerns

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Suspicious deaths of three soldiers raise serious concerns

Some 170 private soldiers have committed suicide over the last two and a half years, with the number reaching 935 over the last 10 years, experts have said.

Two suicides and one instance of “friendly fire” have resulted in the deaths of three private soldiers across Turkey in a week, thus turning attention to the high number of soldier suicides in the army.

A private soldier doing his compulsory military service in the Aegean province of Izmir’s Bergama district committed suicide on Nov. 30 by hanging himself with a necktie, it has been reported.

20-year-old Mert Evren Akdağ reportedly “fell into a depression for an unknown reason” and hung himself from an iron column in his dorm. It has been claimed that Akdağ became very introverted and rarely talked with anyone during his last 10 days.

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç yesterday called on the Turkish Armed Forces to investigate Akdağ’s death. “The Turkish Armed Forces cannot accept such an incident and it will take the necessary measures [to prevent repetition of such cases],” he said.

Another soldier, İsmail Akça, who was performing his military service in the southeastern province of Şırnak, was reportedly killed by an accidental bullet on Dec 1. However, one of his friends from the barracks called Akça’s family to tell them it was a murder, according to a report by daily Radikal published yesterday.

İsmail was one of the contestants in Turkey’s popular talent show, “Yetenek Sizsiniz,” (Turkey’s Got Talent) ahead of his military service.

Emre Tanık, who also has U.S. citizenship, committed suicide Nov 26. His brother Şakir Tanık said his death was under a cloud of suspicion and that the Armed Forces was guilty of negligence over his death.

“I’m excited, the game might be over really soon. One way or the other, they say,” Emre had written on his Facebook status before committing suicide.

‘No way to exit’

“Soldier Rights Platform” speaker Tolga İslam said Izmir was taking the lead in cases of human rights violations in the army, adding that six soldiers had killed themselves in İzmir in 2012.

Two of these were serving in the military guest houses, which he said was a place of great oppression on soldiers.

“Suicides are the most visible damage of compulsory military service. Soldiers have no way to exit even if they suffer from the hardest conditions. The army blocks their way absolutely, which brings suicides,” İslam told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday in a phone interview.

He said around 900 soldiers or their families had asked for help from their imitative since April 2011, adding that Izmir came top of the list where conscripts had made applications about maltreatment.

Parliament’s Human Rights Commission head, Ayhan Sefer Üstün, also noted last week that 175 private soldiers had committed suicide over the last two and a half years, with the number reaching 934 (now 935) over the last 10 years.