Death wells to be excavated, Silopi prosecutor says

Abdülkadir Aygan, a former Kurdistan Workers’ Party member who later worked for JİTEM, was one of the few to give detailed descriptions of the many unsolved murders in the Southeast.

February 20, 2009, Friday/ 17:28:00
The Silopi Prosecutor’s Office has ordered the excavation of wells located at two sites owned by the state’s Turkish Pipeline Corporation (BOTAŞ) to search for dead bodies, presumed victims of alleged murders by an illegal group inside the gendarmerie.

Prompted to action by claims of death wells located in the Southeast that allegedly hold hundreds of bodies of civilians killed by gendarmes in the ‘90s, a prosecutor from the Silopi Public Prosecutor’s Office conducted a field survey on Wednesday on BOTAŞ-owned land in Şırnak province, calling for excavations at two sites in the area.

The existence of the death wells has long been debated; several figures claim that JİTEM, a clandestine gendarmerie intelligence unit set up in the late ‘80s to counter ethnic separatism in the Southeast, was behind the killings of hundreds of people in the region in the 1990s. According to the claims, JİTEM summarily executed a large number of people, doused their bodies with acid and buried them in wells located near BOTAŞ facilities in a number of southeastern cities. Though the existence of both JİTEM and the death wells were long denied, the launch of a field survey in Şırnak yesterday marked the beginning of a new era that could shed light on hundreds of unsolved murders.

Many well-known figures have so far made statements about the existence of the death wells, also called acid wells. Among these were Abdülkadir Aygan, who was a JİTEM member, and Tuncay Güney, who is seen as a key figure in the ongoing investigation into a clandestine organization known as Ergenekon. Both previously claimed that the bodies of hundreds of people reported missing in the past might have been burned with acid and buried in wells in southeastern Turkey.

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