Turkish PM calls dragged corpse pic ‘unacceptable’, HDP leader urges interior minister to resign

Turkish PM calls dragged corpse pic ‘unacceptable’, HDP leader urges interior minister to resign

Turkish PM calls dragged corpse pic ‘unacceptable’, HDP leader urges interior minister to resign Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has “disapproved” an image tweeted of a corpse tied to the back of a security vehicle being dragged on a street in southeast Turkey where security forces are battling militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), while the co-leader of the Kurdish problem-focused opposition party has called for the immediate resignation of the interior minister over the scandal.

“It is not possible for us to approve images of a terrorist organization member who was neutralized while attacking police with rocket launcher in Şırnak,” Davutoğlu said early Oct. 5. “Required legal and administrative instructions have been given about this incident,” he said in a message posted on his official Facebook account.

As of Oct. 4, the Interior Ministry announced that it has launched an investigation into possible human rights abuses after the image was posted earlier that day. The photograph was posted on Twitter and shared by Selahattin Demirtaş, the co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

The corpse belonged to HDP Şırnak deputy Leyla Birlik’s brother-in-law, Hacı Lokman Birlik, who is said to have been killed during clashes between police and members of the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H), the youth wing of the PKK, happening in downtown Şırnak since Oct. 1.

Demirtaş, speaking to reporters on Oct. 5, said Davutoğlu’s statement about the incident was not “satisfactory.”

“Let me say that this is only one case that was exposed on camera. Very similar incidents are taking place there each day. Imagine what might have been done to the living by those who did this to the dead. That is not meant to say that ‘All security forces are like this and doing this,’ but these are pretty much the practices. It’s been like this for years,” Demirtaş said, urging the resignation of Interior Minister Selami Altınok over the incident. He also said the Interior Ministry sent two inspectors to the region solely to “cover up” the matter. 

While sharing the photograph on his account, Demirtaş said, “Look at this photograph carefully. It was taken in Şırnak the previous day. Let nobody forget, because we will not forget.”

The Interior Ministry statement said claims of abuse would be investigated fully. It also said Turkey was determined to press ahead with its fight against PKK militants “within the principles of a state ruled by laws.”

Violence between Turkish security forces and PKK militants reignited this summer, shattering a fragile peace process following a two-and-a-half-year de facto non-conflict period.

The Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB), meanwhile, tasked its human rights center to follow up on the incident which it called “dire.”

“No reason should prevent the penalizing of those responsible for these crimes that have trampled on human rights,” the TBB said in a written statement. Calling for the urgent launch of judicial and administrative investigations, the TBB said, “Obstruction of these investigations with unlawful reasoning should definitely be prevented.”