Bar associations’ report documents torture of Kurdish shepherds by Turkish soldiers

Three bar associations from Turkey’s Kurdish-dominated southeast on Tuesday published a report documenting the torture of four Kurdish shepherds in Hakkari province at the hands of Turkish soldiers, gazete emek news site reported.

Members of the Diyarbakır, Van and Hakkari Bar Associations headed to southeastern town of Şemdinli in Diyarbakır to speak to the victims and make observations following allegations that four shepherds who were grazing their animals were subjected to torture by members of the Turkish Armed Forces on May 31, the site said.

Diyarbakır Bar Association Chairman Ahmet Özmen held a press meeting on Tuesday during which he detailed the findings of the bar associations who went to Şemdinli on June 2 and spoke to villagers who claimed to have been tortured by Turkish servicemen.

Özmen stressed that the Şemdinli prosecutor’s office refused to speak on the matter and no government official had released a statement regarding the allegations.

The report includes statements from the victims recounting the events that took place on May 31. The victims said that Turkish soldiers approached them, asking the shepherds where members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group which has been in war in Turkey fighting for autonomy for Kurds for over three decades, were. The shepherds reported being hit over the head repeatedly before being struck to the ground and assuaulted by groups of 4-5 Turkish soldiers.

One victim said his head was repeatedly held under water as the Turkish soldiers pressed him for the location of PKK members.

''They placed a hand grenade in my mouth,'' another victim said. ''Then they punched me in the head over and over again before pointing a gun at me.''

Turkey’s Kurds make up roughly 20 percent of Turkey’s 80 million people and have suffered in the ongoing conflict between the PKK-Turkish Armed Forces and the centralised Turkish nationalist state intolerant of other identities.