Yıldırım Ayhan, a member of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and a provincial assembly member in Van, was killed in a clash between gendarmerie units and a group of self-proclaimed human shield activists in the Çukurca district of Hakkari as they marched toward northern Iraq on Sunday in an effort to prevent air strikes against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) camps by the Turkish Air Forces (THK).
Gendarmerie units had been placed in Çukurca to prevent a group of Democratic Society Congress (DTK) activists from crossing into northern Iraq to protest the air strikes by the THK. The group was comprised of activists who came from Van, Bitlis, Muş, Ağrı, Kars, Iğdır and Ardahan provinces. They employed stones to attack the gendarmes and break through the barrier to cross the border into northern Iraq. Gendarmes tried to disperse the group through the use of tear gas.
Yıldırım Ayhan was wounded during the course of the gendarmerie intervention and died shortly after arriving at Van State Hospital on Sunday evening. Officials stated that Ayhan was killed by a tear gas canister shot at close range. Police took security measures around the hospital and throughout Van as a precaution, concerned that Ayhan’s death could generate a disruptive outcry.