May 09 2018

Kurdish-speaking soldier in Turkey hospitalised by comrades

A soldier was beaten unconscious and put in a coma by two other soldiers he was serving alongside after a campaign of bullying for speaking Kurdish, a parliamentarian for the majority-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) told the left-wing Artı Gerçek news portal.

HDP member of parliament for the eastern city of Van, Mehmet Emin Adıyaman, said Fikret Aydemir had had brain surgery due to a serious injury to the skull and that his internal organs had suffered damage, but that he was recovering and would soon be discharged from hospital.

Aydemir, he said, had long been abused for his Kurdish identity at his guardpost.

Another HDP parliamentarian who visited Aydemir was Lezgin Botan, who said the soldier had told his family he was being threatened, but that the military had done nothing to stop the attack.

“In the end, that’s a guardpost. There are NCOs, captains, and sergeants there,” Botan said.

“In that place, a soldier was beaten near to death for over half an hour, that’s not normal.”

There had been other, similar instances elsewhere, Botan said.

“Earlier in Antep there was a soldier ... attacked by a group for having a photograph of (HDP ex-leader Selahattin) Demirtaş on his phone,” he said. “There are a group of soldiers, some of whom were jailed and some released pending trial, who attacked people for dancing a Kurdish halay.”

A colonel who came to the hospital, Adıyaman said, had assured him that an investigation would be opened into the incident.