Turkish prosecutor rejects investigation into death of Kurdish girl, citing terror links

A Turkish prosecutor’s office has ruled no prosecution in the case of a 13-year-old girl discovered dead following a curfew in the southeastern town of Şırnak in 2016, citing the child’s membership in a terrorist organisation.

The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Şırnak has declined to pursue the case into Fatma Elarslan, whose body was found on March 6, 2016, weeks after going missing during a lockdown, Evrensel newspaper reported on Monday.

The decision is based on the testimony of a witness, claiming the 13-year-old took part in armed activities of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group designated a terrorist organisation by Ankara that has been at war for Kurdish self rule in Turkey for 40 years, it said.

Elarslan went missing in Şırnak’s İdil district after a curfew was announced on February 16, 2016. Her body was discovered weeks later following the lifting of the lockdown.

An autopsy report revealed that Elarslan died from firearm and explosion-related injuries, but the investigation contained no information on the weapon that fired the shots. 

The prosecution claimed the child had clashed with the police, but Elarslan’s body was discovered in an open field with nine others, where police records indicated there were no signs of altercations.

“How could my daughter be a terrorist?’’ Elarslan’s father, Mehmet, told Mezopotamya news agency. “My daughter was barely 13 when she was killed… I found her corpse in the Mardin State Morgue at a time when I was hoping to find her alive.’’

Clashes between Turkish security forces and PKK militants between 2015-2016 led to long-standing curfews in Turkey's Kurdish majority southeast.  Hundreds were killed or wounded during Turkey’s security operations at the time.

A number of lawyers and human rights activists came out in criticism of the ruling in the case.

"The law concerning the war on terror cannot be used in child murder cases,’’ Adem Arkadaş Thibert, a member of the Child Rights International Network (CRIN) Executive Board said.

"We do not all for perpetrators of the murder of children to be protected under the shield of impunity. Fatma’s perpetrators must be found and punished immediately,’’ the Diyarbakır Children’s Rights Centre said.