Kurdish man picnicking in SE Turkey injured after security forces fire warning shots

Turkish security forces on Wednesday allegedly fired above the heads of a group of Kurdish men having a picnic in an open field in the southeastern province of Hakkari, injuring one of them, said Sait Dede, a deputy from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

According to the Gazete Duvar news website, a bullet grazed the back of 26-year-old Recep Ekinci’s head, who was treated and discharged from the hospital. Dede said on Twitter that he condemned the incident, saying the men were out for a picnic and that he expected an explanation from the authorities.

In a statement, the Hakkari Governor’s Office said the incident took place in a military zone. “Considering the time and place of the incident, the claim that the men were there for a picnic does not appear to be true,” the statement said.

According to the statement, six individuals were seen in a restricted area close to the border, around one o’clock in the afternoon. The soldiers, who were on the lookout for smugglers, warned them to leave the area, but when they failed to do so, they fired a shot in the air.

Turkish security forces have been faced with similar allegations in the country’s Kurdish majority provinces. Özcan Erbaş, a 16-year-old boy living in a village in Hakkari province, died after being shot by soldiers in December.

According to his uncle Sabri Erbaş, who witnessed the incident, Erbaş was at a picnic with his family when the soldiers opened fire and Erbaş was shot in the back.

According to Human Rights Watch, lack of condemnation from higher officials and a readiness to cover up allegations rather than investigate them has resulted in widespread impunity for the Turkish security forces. The rights watchdog’s Europe and Central Asia director, Hugh Williamson, said, “Turkey has an entrenched culture of impunity when it comes to abuses by the security forces, no matter how serious.”

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