The Year 2016, Turkey,
the story of two dead bodies
This is the story of İsa Oran and Mesut Seviktek, whose dead bodies were left lying on the ground for 29 days in Suriçi, Diyarbakır because they could not be retrieved.
Let me first of all say this; I am writing this article so that what happened will go on the record; so that what has happened in the Turkey of 2016 will not be forgotten, in order to ensure history records it!
I met İsa Oran’s father Mehmet Oran and Mesut Seviktek’s older brother İhsan Seviktek on December 30, 2015.
I was organizing the program for Defenders of Peace in the city; 106 people from the initiative including intellectuals, artists and individuals from various vocational groups had come to Diyarbakır. A young woman came to me, she was crying. She said there were two dead bodies on the street in Suriçi, and their families were devastated and asked for our help. Making an addition to the program, we organized for the families to talk about what happened at the Defenders of Peace meeting that day, and again the same day, we visited the Governor of Diyarbakır as a group of intellectuals to ask for his support to retrieve the remains.
Let me summarize what happened afterwards: I met with the families almost every day, anyway just a few days later the families went on a hunger strike at the Diyarbakır branch office of Human Rights Association (İHD). In the meantime, while trying to bring the issue to the public agenda, we kept going from door to door for support with the President of İHD Diyarbakır, Raci Bilici. We rushed from pillar to post between institutions. We were told that the bodies were in the garden of Yavuz Sultan Selim School and security forces could not go inside, that it was behind the trenches. Finally, about ten days ago, we met with the Governor of Diyarbakır again, and agreed on a plan that the curfew be lifted for two hours, and the special ops to retreat for that period so that with the municipality’s funeral coach, the families and a group of civil society representatives could go and retrieve the remains.
In the meantime, during our Ankara visit two weeks ago, we conveyed the situation to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Ministry of Interior Affairs Efkan Ala as well.
You know what took place afterwards from the press anyway. On January 12, the curfew was lifted for two hours. Even though it was said that the special ops would retreat, when the group went to Suriçi there were hundreds of special ops around, then the conflict intensified, and families had to leave Suriçi without being able to get the bodies. Something the security forces told the family and the group that day surprised me and many people. It turns out there were special ops inside the school where the bodies lay anyway. That is to say, the remains were in a place where there were special ops to begin with!
While the families continued the hunger strike, two days ago, the prosecutor’s office calls Diyarbakır İHD and says that the bodies have been brought to the morgue and the families should come to the morgue to identify the bodies.
The father Mehmet Oran and brother İhsan Seviktek go to the morgue to identify the bodies.
Let’s hear the rest in the father Mehmet Oran’s words:
“The prosecutor’s office said, ‘you shouldn’t go, don’t go in the morgue, you’ll faint’, and I said, ‘I’ll keep remain standing to see your cruelty.’ I went in the morgue. My son’s head wasn’t intact; it was burned, as if a chemical substance had been poured over it… His torso was carved out, his intestines hanging out, all in pieces, pieces of flesh had been torn off, as if an animal had bitten them off, I was able to recognize my son only from one of his arms, they had ripped my boy to shreds.”
There are hundreds of bullets on the body of the 25 year old Mesut Seviktek. His brother İhsan tells us about it:
“My brother is anyway martyred by the wound in his skull and chest. Then they shot hundreds of bullets at him. His face has become unrecognizable. What does it mean to do this to a dead person? Turkey’s problem can’t be resolved by doing this, the Kurdish problem can’t be resolved like this.”
“Just like we had to leave Lice in 93 without even taking a spoon, that’s how we had to leave Sur in 2015”
To tell you the truth, I am astonished, angry, enraged and in pain. I was personally involved in this, I still haven’t been able to make sense of why they made us struggle for days to get the remains if the security forces had them in the first place or if the bodies were somewhere they could get them; what their aim was in doing so. The families had anyway thought the state had the bodies from the outset, how naïve I was! How naïve I was as we were planning how and from which street they could be brought, how I was waiting with some shred of hope every day, thinking okay, they’ll be retrieved today! How naïve I was beating at the door of the state for days!
Mr. İhsan says:
“We told you from the outset, this state has the bodies. We knew from the first day the bodies lay there, because we live in Suriçi, we were talking on the phone with our neighbors, our friends, they were telling us, the bodies are in the school yard and the special ops have set up camp in the school.”
Mr. Mehmet adds:
“We knew from day one the state had these bodies, we know this state, we are the ones who know how dirty they are.”
Mr. İhsan continues:
“We were in prison together with my brother Mesut for three years, at the time I had gone on a hunger strike with my brother, now I am on a hunger strike with my mother to get my brother’s body.”
“It was a holiday in 1993, the state sent us away from the village. In that commotion, we had forgotten Mesut in the village, the next day, a neighbor who had stayed in the village called to inform us, we went and got Mesut. Mesut worked in construction, worked shining shoes on the streets, finally we opened a grocery store in Sur together. We built a life with great hardship. Now the store is also gone, it is demolished. Just like we had to leave Lice without even taking a spoon in 93, that’s how we had to leave Sur in 2015.”
“This is a political problem, it can’t be solved with arms, trenches, destruction”
As we are talking there is movement on the walls of the hall in İHD where the families are on hunger strike. Two more pictures of young people are hung on the walls, photos of Turgay Girçek and Gündüz Akmeşe. They were actually killed four days ago but their families learned that they were killed only yesterday. I look at the photos of youth on the wall that increase by the day. Mr. İhsan, who notices I am shaken, holds my arm, sits me down, tries to give me strength despite his own state of agony:
“Look, this is the outcome. For months the state bombed the martyrs’ graves, it did all in its power to the graves of Kurds, and then it boiled the problem down to the issue of trenches. What did you think would happen after you bombed so many graves, did you think the Kurdish youth would meekly accept all that was done? There were no trenches then, why did you bomb the graveyards?
This is a political problem, it can’t be resolves with arms, trenches, destruction.”
“I am calling out to the families of police and soldiers: Don’t say ‘all for the sake of the homeland’!”
Mr. İhsan also has something to say to the families of soldiers and police:
“The mothers of police and soldiers should see these sufferings too. Look I am saying this in my pained state. We are sad if soldiers die, we are sad if police die. I am calling out to the families of police and soldiers. Don’t say ‘all for the sake of the homeland’ over our children, if you are thinking about your dead child work for peace. Empathize. Mesut was my brother. They killed him, that wasn’t enough, they riddled him with over a hundred bullets. We are still saying let these be the last ones. Let our children be the last victims of the Kurdish people, of the Turkish people. Don’t let your children be sacrificed to this dirty war.
The government should come out of this eclipse of reason immediately. The place to return to is the [negotiation] table. There is no place but the table.”
Mr. Mehmet, who joins in, says, “Everyone shot at Mesut, whoever came around shot at him, what religion, what humanity, in which God’s book does this exist?”
I want to ask the officials, particularly Prime Minister Davutoğlu, who told us during our Ankara visit, “We will take care of all dead bodies, inform us”:
Where were these bodies for one month?
Who did this to these bodies?
Will those who did these to these bodies be punished?
Let history record this. The year 2016, the month of January. The dead bodies of the 21 year old İsa Oran and 25 year old Mesut Seviktek were left lying on the ground for 29 days in Suriçi, Diyarbakır, their families went on a hunger strike to retrieve the dead bodies of their children. When they were brought to the morgue on January 19, the bodies had been disintegrated…
*As published in T24 on 22.01.2016
 Other articles I wrote to bring this issue to the agenda:
http://t24.com.tr/yazarlar/nurcan-baysal/diyarbakir-yeni-bir-yila-girerken-kar-altinda-olu-bedenler-var,13576 ( As we enter a new year in Diyarbakır, there are dead bodies under the snow)
http://t24.com.tr/yazarlar/nurcan-baysal/surda-zulum-var-birak-bir-insani-15-gun-insan-bir-sinegi-bile-yerde-birakmaz,13598 (There is tyranny in Sur, let alone a human being, a person would not leave a fly on the ground for 15 days)
http://t24.com.tr/yazarlar/nurcan-baysal/yaz-kizim-baris-istiyorum,13664 (Write my girl, I want peace)