Security forces must stop using armored vehicles in cities and residential areas, an expert has said, following the demise of Mihraç Miroğlu, 7, who was crushed to death in southeastern Turkey last week, Deutsche Welle Turkish service (DW) reported.
Speaking to DW, Mehmet Emin Tümür, co-chair of the Diyarbakır branch of the Mechanical Engineers Chamber, said armored vehicles are too heavy and too large for residential areas.
“These vehicles have too many blind spots, and it’s very difficult to sense your surroundings,” he said. “If these vehicles are driven above the speed limit, it becomes very difficult to control them.”
Tümür said the vehicles need to be fitted with better sensory devices if they are to be used in cities. He added that it was quite dangerous for them to be used in city traffic and pedestrian areas because they were developed to be used in fields and warzones.
“These vehicles need to be fitted with alarm systems that will warn people of their approach,” he said. “Drivers also need to slow their speed by 40 to 50 percent in addition to extra sensory devices that warn of the presence of a person on the street.”
The killing of civilians by military vehicles is common in Turkey’s Southeast, where there is a heavy military presence due to ongoing clashes between the Turkish military and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
According to a report by the Human Rights Association (İHD) Diyarbakır branch, 36 people, including six women and 16 children, have been killed and 85 were injured in 63 accidents involving armored vehicles over the past 10 years.
According to Nahit Eren, chair of the Diyarbakir Bar Association, soldiers involved in accidents with armored vehicles are seldom punished. “Drivers are rarely sentenced to prison time, while some only receive a fine,” he said. “This causes the soldiers driving these vehicles to behave recklessly.”
Eren urged parliament’s Committee for Human Rights to conduct a thorough investigation into deaths caused by armored vehicles.
The police officer who caused Miroğlu’s death was freed after testifying to a prosecutor. In his statement the police officer claimed he was not driving the vehicle very fast and that he regrets the tragedy.
The İdil Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into the incident, which was classified as a fatal traffic accident.