Gov’t body gets involved in controversial killing of Cizre boy

February 21, 2008, Thursday/ 20:19:00
The Prime Ministry's Human Rights Presidency (BİHB) has tasked the provincial human rights board in the southeastern Anatolian province of Şırnak with investigating the controversial killing of a teenager during an annual demonstration calling for the release of Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) who was captured and imprisoned nine years ago.Fifteen-year-old Yahya Menekşe was killed on Feb. 15, when hundreds of Kurdish protesters armed with stones battled police in southeastern Turkey on the ninth anniversary of Öcalan's capture.

Authorities did not immediately say how the boy was killed or if he had been among the protesters, stating only that the boy died of head injuries. Yet in the days following the killing, reports in the Turkish media citing anonymous security sources suggested that the boy had been hit in the head by stones hurled by demonstrators during a clash with police.

On Monday, Nuşirvan Elçi, the head of the Şırnak Bar, speaking at a press conference in Cizre, announced an autopsy report by the Cizre State Hospital.  The report revealed that Menekşe had a fracture in his skull, a hematoma in his stomach and a broken hip, indicating that the cause of his death was his having been crushed by a hard object.

Elçi also said that real bullets were used and armored vehicles were driven over people during the demonstration, indicating that Menekşe was killed by an armored vehicle rolling over him.

Following reports on the controversy that emerged with the autopsy report, BİHB's President Hasan Tahsin Fendoğlu sent a letter to the Şırnak Governor's Office on Tuesday to assign the provincial human rights board in the city to investigate whether Menekşe's killing was result of "extreme and disproportionate use of force by the police."

Fendoğlu also said in the letter that the results of the board's investigation should eventually be conveyed to either the public prosecutor's office or administrative officials.

Speaking at her party's parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, Democratic Society Party (DTP) Co-Chairperson Emine Ayna said the police used uncalled for and excessive force against civilians in Şırnak during the incident. Ayna compared police intervention against protesters in the Cizre to that of Israeli soldiers against Palestinians.

Earlier, the Human Rights Association (İHD) condemned Menekşe's killing, saying that violation of the right to life by the police using excessive force has become almost routine in the country.

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