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 Not Bosnia, but Kurdistan of Turkey! A mass grave found in the Bitlis Region

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True Face of the Turkish State's Contempt for Human Life Demonstrated Again  25.8.2004
By Kurdish Activist from Turkey 


August 25, 2004

Not Bosnia, but Kurdistan of Turkey!

A mass grave found in the Bitlis Region; locals unable to intervene to request proper burial for fear of persecution by the state, government officials and military forces

Two different mass grave sites containing dozens of bodies have been found in the Tatvan District of the Bitlis Region in Northern Kurdistan (Eastern Turkey).

The first of the two sites is located on the summit of Bindaki Mountain. The second is at the foot of Kender Mountain. Locals from nearby Karuka village have been unable to intervene to request for a proper burial for the deceased for fear of state retribution and reprisal.

Remnants of the attire worn by PKK guerillas: special shoe called “Mekap” and a long cloth sash wrapped around the waist for back support called “ªûtik”.

According to numerous first-hand sources, including a 60 year old shepherd from nearby Karuka Village, the Bindaki Mountain mass grave site contains a total of nineteen (19) bodies; the Kender Mountain mass grave site contains at least thirteen (13) bodies.

The bodies from both locations reportedly belong to PKK guerilla fighters from the Kurdish movement. Eyewitnesses state that among the remains are two classic trademarks of the PKK guerilla's, the first is a special type of shoe called “Mekap”, the second is a long cloth sash wrapped around the waist for back support called “ªûtik”; both are worn in accompanyment to the classic Kurdish military uniform.

Villagers verify that the human remains shown in these photographs are over ten (10) years old. Due to fear of persecution by the Turkish government – and related elements such as the infamous “village guards” – none of the villagers felt safe enough to take appropriate action to allow for proper burial.

These statements are further confirmed by press release accounts from the time declaring that thirteen (13) members of the Kurdish guerilla forces lost their lives in the area pending a military operation in 1994. Among those listed for having lost their lives are: the commander of the Manga region code-named “Lokman”, and Aytekin Sezgin born in 1973 and originally from the Batman-Kozluk vicinity.

Execution-style Murder
According to three locals from a nearby village, whom for their own safety did not want to release their names, the nineteen (19) PKK guerilla's were captured live and then sprayed with machinegun fire after having their hand tied behind their backs by Turkish soldiers. Shepherds discovered the mass grave sites in July of that same year while out grazing their herds.

Civilians also massacred
A sixty year (60) old shepherd claimed that more than thirty (30) civilians were also killed by Turkish soldiers in the aftermath of the military operation; provided was the following statement:
“It was in the summer months of 1994. Members of the Turkish military as well as their assistants in civil attire came to an area approximately 10-15 kilometers away from the mass grave sites. Due to the excessive movement of the troops we (shepherds) avoided going to the area; suddenly their was.

DIHA - "Two mass graves were found in not Kosovo but in Bitlis!":
BITLIS / 23 August 2004 / by Kerim Celik

2 mass graves of Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)'s guerrillas were found in Tatvan district of Bitlis. Uniforms, skulls, and 'Mekap' branded shoes that PKK guerrillas wear as it is known in the graves that remained from 1994. It was asserted that while 13 PKK guerrillas' corpses were put into the grave that was located on slope of Kender Daðý Mountain, 19 guerrillas were burned in the grave that was located on Bindaki Mountain where 30 civilians' corpses were left in 1994 according to a villager's claim. The witness said he went to 'massacre' area 2 years before and human bones were still there.

Like Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq that had repercussions, two mass graves were found in Bitlis as a receipt of 15 year-combats. In mass grave that is located on Kender mountain of Karuka village 2 corpses were burned by a herdsman encircling by stones and rocks and for this reason it can be easily noticed among the other corpses. The mass grave that one can arrive after a 3 hour- walk from Karuka village was closed with stones and rocks. Settling down on the region where some corpses were scattered by means of melting snow is prohibited by soldiers.

A Claim; 'They were executed binding their hand'

The second mass grave is located on the peak of Bindaki Mountain. According to the claim, 19 guerrillas were burned to these mass graves after the combat that started in 1994 and continued 3 days. It was asserted that there are 'þutik' belt that guerrillas wear, guerrilla clothes and bones in this mass grave and that bandoliers were used in executions to bind guerrillas' hands.

While detailed information about the mass graves could not be got, 3 villagers who did not want to give their names due to security problem said:
"Many soldiers and guerillas were killed in 1994 operations on Bindaki, Kender Mountain and the area Ware Mahmut of Komik Field. More than 13 guerillas that were caught dead on Karez Mountaina were burned in hollows by soldiers and guards. Moreover, in June, a group of herdsmen saw and told us that at least19 guerillas were executed with automatic weapons by soldiers and guards and then they were burned in hollows."
Villagers said human bones were there for more than 10 years but nobody had brave enough to deal with the issue.

'Civilians were slain as a whole'

A 60 years old herdsman asserted that in the same period, nearly 30 civilians were slain as a whole, in the plain of the area Ware Mahmut that located in Komik Field. Elder man talked as follows:

"Uniformed people and civilians come to the area Ware Mahmut in Komik Field that is 10 or 15 km far away from mass grave in 1994 summer. This summer because of the armed conflict in region, we could not go to upland, but we heard gun sounds after awhile. After along time when armed conflict settled down, I went to pasture my sheep to there. I saw nearly 30 civilians bodies. The bodies were concealed with sticks and twigs. Then I leaved there. 2 years ago I went there again the bones of people still were there." 

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