Statement by the Pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP):
August 11, 2017
Torture in Şapatan village of Şemdinli/Hakkari and observations of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) members of Parliament (MP) on the Issue
Şapatan, a village in Hakkari’s Şemdinli district with a population of 2000, was raided by Turkish
police officers on 6 August 2017. The raid occurred after one special operations police officer had
been killed during an operation launched by Turkish army and police forces in Şapatan.
Allegations that villagers were tortured began to spread after the raid. The HDP delegation
consisting of MPs Mizgin Irgat and Nihat Akdogan visited Şapatan village on 9 August to
examine the case on site. This note is based on their observations and interviews with villagers.
During the raid the villagers were gathered at the square of the village and about 100 of them, also
including women and children, were harshly beaten up. After the public beating, 36 villagers were
taken into custody without any reason. The detainees were further tortured in the police station.
When 20 of them were released with torture marks on their bodies, they applied to the Şemdinli
hospital to get medical report for documenting torture. However, the physician refused to give the
report. Adding insult to injury, the physician blamed the villagers with a racist approach.
HDP MPs stated that the overwhelming majority of the village had voted for HDP in previous
elections. The village has been exposed to various forms of repression in the past. Turkish
security forces raided the houses early in the morning. Some villagers were beaten up with a hose
and stabbed. Women were sexually abused. The marks of torture on the victims’ bodies were still
fresh four days after the raid. The marks of torture were worse than the images of tortured
villagers shared in social media after the raid.
The demand of HDP delegation to meet with district governor and the prosecutor were rejected
“due to the sensitivity of the issue.” There has been no legal investigation so far, although the
Turkish Chief of Police announced that there was an administrative investigation, while
simultaneously claiming that allegations of torture were “terrorist propaganda.” Despite several
testimonies and photos, the governor of Hakkari denied the existence of torture; he, too, issued a
statement claiming that making reports of the images of the torture is “terror propaganda”.
The European Court of Human Rights has described similar practices of torture as human rights
violations in their various decisions on Turkey in the past. Such inhumane practices of Turkish
security forces against civilian Kurds clearly remind us of emergency rule and “dirty war” of the
1990s. We vehemently condemn torture against the villagers of Şapatan and urge the democratic
international community, particularly human rights organizations and relevant bodies of the
Council of Europe, the European Union and United Nations, to raise their voice against torture
and take action. Torture is a crime against humanity and is unacceptable under any circumstances.
Deputy Co-chair of HDP Responsible for Foreign Affairs
Preliminary Observations of HDP MPs
Mizgin Irgat, Bitlis MP:
The people of the village are HDP voters, and are often exposed to such repression. In this
incident a clash that took place in the area was used as a pretext and army forces raided all the
houses in the village at dawn. Some villagers were beaten up with hoses and some others were
stabbed with skewers. Only 36 people have been named in the media, but nearly 100 people were
beaten up. There are contradictions in the health reports. Some villagers, who did file applications,
were not given health reports. We also think that some of the given reports are deficient. Women
told us that they were abused. In every house they went, the security forces abused women.
Neither a detention has been made, nor has any investigation been carried out. The public
prosecutor did not accept our request for a meeting. The district governor did not give us an
appointment either. We tried but could not meet the chief physician. We will take steps to get
health reports for all the 100 citizens.
Not a single government official has visited the village. The Governor’s office did not accept the
claims. But the incident is quite the opposite of the governor’s account. What took place here is
torture. The villagers were forced to lie face down on the floor for hours.
The villagers want their voices to be heard. “They want to massacre us,” they say. “There is an
attack against our identity, our political choice,” they say. A mother’s bean garden was destroyed.
They (security forces) acted out of hostility. This is not an ordinary incident.
We call on the Ministry of Interior: This incident took place under the ministry’s responsibility.
We will prepare a report of our visit and share it with the public. We will follow up the villagers’
criminal complaints. We also call on the public: What took place here is not a local issue; it is not
about a village of Şemdinli. It is an ideological act, it does not consider any consequences; it is an
arbitrary action. The security forces committed both moral and physical violence and threatened
the citizens. This is an extra-judicial punishment.
Nihat Akdoğan, Hakkari MP:
The governorate had denied the villagers’ statements. But even after four days, their bruises and
wounds were fresh and clearly visible. The authorities should come and take a look. An eightyyear-
old mother was struck on her arm with a riffle-butt. The backs of young people are in a
condition much worse than we see in the photos. Women, they could not even talk about what
they went through. We observed that not only physical violence but also psychological violence
had been perpetrated here.
We wanted to talk to the district governor, the prosecutor and the chief physician. The district
governor rejected our request. The prosecutor told us that he did not want to meet us because of
the sensitivity of the issue.
There is huge anger here. The people have faced cruelty many times before. But the fact that
women were insulted to such a degree has created exceptional fury. There is a serious reaction
against the practices of the AKP government. The villagers say they will not let this go; they will
pursue this matter. We will give them all the necessary legal support in this regard. We will
prepare a comprehensive report. Like them, we cannot accept this practice, either.