Shepherds make Turkish military torture claims

Two shepherds who were grazing their sheep near the town of Şemdinli in Turkey’s southeast told Kurdish-movement news agency Mesopotamia they were tortured for hours by a group of soldiers on patrol before being left for dead.

Nasır Taş and Ramazan Aktaş said they were working early in the morning when they encountered eight soldiers from a nearby guard post. The soldiers beat them with their fists, pistols, and batons, as well as kicking them for more than two hours, the shepherds said.

The two men said they eventually passed out and were left for dead. When they were found hours later by women who were going to milk their sheep, they were brought to Şemdinli State Hospital and treated. While Aktaş has now been discharged, Taş is still being treated for a fractured jawbone, the agency said.

Taş told Mesopotamia that they had been asked where Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants were and who in the village was helping them.

The PKK has been intermittently fighting the Turkish state since 1984 in a bid for an autonomous Kurdish region.

“We explained that we had just got up and sent our animals on their way, and that we had no idea,” Taş said.

“As soon as we said this, the soldiers immediately began to torture us. They took the stick out of my hand, and began hitting me with it.”

The soldiers called the men terrorists and beat them for hours, Taş said, despite them fasting for the holy month of Ramadan.

The soldiers had also shot their guns nearby them four times, and Taş said he and Aktaş were lucky to still be alive.

Taş said he would file legal charges over the incident.