Kurdish villagers terrorized at military checkpoint in SE Turkey

A video circulating on social media showed a group of Kurdish villagers being verbally harassed and threatened by soldiers at a checkpoint in the southeastern province of Hakkari, over an identification and criminal background check.

The argument erupted when the soldiers told the villagers to step out of their minibus to undergo the ID and background checks. The villagers, however, asked them to review their documents while they waited inside the vehicle.

The soldiers first insulted the villagers and then shot their guns into the air in an apparent attempt at intimidation, the reports said.

Journalist Ruşen Takva reported that the villagers, who later went to a local district governor’s office to file complaints, were told not to share the videos on social media or with the press.

The video was subsequently shared by Öznur Bartın, a deputy from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy and Equality Party (DEM Party).

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been heavily militarized since it became the scene of an armed conflict between the security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the 1980s.

The PKK is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey and its Western allies, and the conflict in southeast Turkey has led to a radical deterioration of the human rights situation in the region.

It is common for the military to set up roadblocks, obstruct entry to designated areas and towns and carry out ID checks on civilians.

Turkey’s armed forces have also been repeatedly accused of physical mistreatment of local inhabitants detained on suspicion of helping the PKK.

In a major allegation that surfaced in 2020, soldiers were accused of throwing two Kurdish villagers from a helicopter.

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