Turkey arrests 78-year-old disabled Kurdish villager on terrorism charges

Emin Soyal

A court in Turkey has ruled for the arrest of Emin Soyal, a 78-year-old man with documented disabilities and health issues who was detained for alleged links to terrorism last week, the TR724 news website reported on Thursday.

Detained along with four others on October 19 in raids conducted by security forces in Şırnak province, Soyal is accused of helping a terrorist organization in an investigation overseen by Siirt prosecutors.

His son, Mesut Soyal, announced that his father is unable to see to his own needs, asking authorities to release him.

“He did not even have the strength to leave the house. He would only go out twice a week for checkups at the hospital,” Soyal said. “He underwent surgery two months ago, and his pacemaker was changed. He can’t even eat on his own.”

Soyal is suffering from a number of health issues including cardiac insufficiency, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), visual impairment and hearing loss. In March he was described as being almost totally disabled in a report issued by a state hospital.

It is common for Turkish authorities to pursue local residents of the predominantly Kurdish provinces on accusations related to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state for several decades.

The PKK is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community. Yet, Turkey’s counterterrorism laws are often criticized by human rights groups and legal experts as being overly broad, allowing too much room for interpretation.

Since the breakdown of peace talks between Ankara and the PKK in mid-2015, Turkish authorities have been carrying out widespread, terrorism-related investigations affecting the Kurdish minority, including politicians, media workers and local residents in the Kurdish-majority regions.

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