|Excavations Begin in Search for Remains of Relative of KHRP Applicant|
The Turkish authorities have begun excavations in the Kurdish regions of Turkey in a search for the remains of two people who went missing during the conflict there in the mid-1990s, one of whom was at the heart of a case filed at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) with KHRP assistance in 2002.
The search for the remains of Fethi Yildirim and Hakki Kaya in the Hani district of Diyarbakır began in response to information supplied by Abdülkadir Aygan, a former member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) turned state informant whose confessions have formed a large part of investigations into the conflict’s many unsolved murders.
Fethi Yildirim, a farmer who had been involved with pro-Kurdish political parties, disappeared after being detained in 1994. KHRP assisted his brother, Süleyman Yildirim, in filing an application to the ECtHR claiming violations of the right to life, the prohibition of torture, the right to liberty and security, and the right to a fair trial, amongst others. At the time, the case was declared inadmissible.
Hakki Kaya, the second individual mentioned in Aygan’s testimony, was detained along with two friends in 1996. Though his two friends were eventually released, Kaya was never seen again. Digging at the site where he is thought to have been buried is reported to have uncovered hundreds of bone fragments and the remains of clothing.
‘There is a real need in Turkey to confront the systematic human rights violations that characterised the height of the conflict in the Kurdish regions and to begin the process of securing justice for the relatives of all those who were “disappeared”,’ said KHRP Executive Director Kerim Yildiz. ‘It is regrettable that Abdülkadir Aygan’s evidence was not taken more seriously years ago – delays in cases such as this open the way for the possibility of evidence being tampered with. We hope that these latest excavations will be a step towards identifying those responsible in these particular cases and holding them to account.’