They had to leave their village, Kavakli, in the Cukurca district of Hakkari province, eastern Turkey, in 1995.I thought I recognised the name: Kavaklı is another warred village; as Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated in their 2002 report, 'Kavaklı village... was forcibly evacuated in 1993', 'Kavaklı köyü 1993’te zorla boşaltılmıştı'.
I don't know whether one of BIA or HRW got the date of the expulsion wrong, or whether the village was forcibly evacuated in 1993, then resettled, then once more forcibly evacuated in 1995.
After that, however, the village remained empty, except for occasional visits from those displaced villagers who were allowed to tend their crops; that, however, was a very dangerous thing for them to do.
As Human Rights Watch narrated in its 2002 report,
In October 2000 three villagers who had gone back, with permission from Hakkari Provincial Gendarmerie Headquarters, to collect walnuts from their lands were found shot dead with their hands tied behind their backs.From an article originally published in Özgür Gündem, on the 17th of August 2005, Info-Türk relayed the accusation of the extra-judicial execution of Yusuf Yaşar in Kavaklı on the 12th of August 2005:
Ekim 2000’de Hakkari İl Jandarma Komutanlığı’nın topraklarından ceviz toplamak üzere izin verdiği üç köylü ölü bulunmuştur. Bu insanlar elleri arkadan bağlanarak kurşunlanmıştır.
Yusuf Yasar, who was killed on 12 August in Çeltik quarter in Kavakli village of Hakkari, was allegedly killed from close distance after having been detained.... Naif Kayacan, SHP member of Province Assembly, said: ".... The way to his house is very dark. He must have been taken and then brought [to] the place where he was killed."....Tolga Korkut continued:
According to the autopsy report there were 20 bullets on the head and chest, there were traces of grazes on forehead, there were traces gunpowder on the body indicating he was shot from close distance. According to the crime scene report there were shovel and pickaxe nearby the body and a little bit C+ was found and Yasar was in civilian dress.
The villagers finally returned 12 years later, having received permission from the governor's and district offices to work their fields.Although villagers are trapped in-between the TSK and the PKK (the Turkish army and the Kurdish guerillas, respectively), these villagers' testimonies sounded suspiciously like the standard government line.
However, according to the Yüksekova News [article below, in Turkish], now the six villagers have been told that they cannot enter their villages and they have been unable to harvest. The villagers themselves recounted the following:
"In 1995, there were 150 households in our village. We did not need help from the government because we had animals and fields. But when the events started (the clashes between the PKK and the army), our village was emptied for security reasons. In the spring of 2007, the governor and the district authorities gave us permission to work our fields. We six families returned to the village and sowed wheat, barley and planted vegetables.
Had we been allowed to harvest, we would have had enough to eat for the winter and we would not have been dependent on the state. But because of an increase in clashes we have been evicted from our village and cannot harvest. We have been told that security is the reason. All our efforts have been wasted."
Given the forcible evaucation of the village in 1993 and/or 1995 and the execution of villagers and intimidation of their relatives and neighbours in 2000 and 2005, it seems reasonable to assume that these villagers were too frightened to tell the truth.
In the case of the three executed villagers, the 2002 Human Rights Watch report noted that,
The official account, that the three had been killed by the PKK, was partly based on inconsistent accounts by a fourth villager who survived. In his first statement to the prosecutor, he said that the group was accosted by unknown persons in the dark, who fired shots. He was wounded but escaped.Similarly, in the case reported by Özgür Gündem and Info-Türk,
In a second statement contained in the gendarmerie's report, the villager said that the group had been captured by PKK militants who tied their hands and then shot them. It appears that the fourth villager may have been pressured to give an account that exculpated the gendarmerie. Relatives who returned to the area to recover the bodies reported that as they entered Kavaklı gendarmes guarding a nearby bridge fired on them.
Resmi açıklamaya göre, bu kişiler PKK tarafından öldürülmüştü. Bu açıklama, hayatta kalan dördüncü köylünün tutarsız ifadesine dayanmaktadır. Savcılığa verdiği ilk ifadede, söz konusu kişi karanlıkta bilinmeyen kişilerin kendilerine yaklaştığını ve ateş ettiğini belirtmişti. Kendisi yaralanmış ve kaçmıştı.
Jandarma raporunda yer alan ikinci ifadesinde ise, bu kişi grubun PKK militanlarınca yakalandığını ve ellerinin bağlanıp kurşunlandığını belirtmektedir. Bu dördüncü şahsın jandarmayı aklamak için zorlanmış olduğu izlenimi vardır. Ölüleri almak için bölgeye giden akrabalar, Kavaklı’ya girdiklerinde, komşu köyü koruyan jandarmanın kendilerine ateş ettiğini ifade etmişlerdir.
According to the official announcement he was one of the PKK militants who were trying to plant mines and did not obey stop warning. His brother Kamil Yasar said followings: "My brother previously told me that police officers were talking bout him each other. We were in the village 3 days ago. How can someone be a guerrilla in a day? He was seen walking in bazaar at about 8pm. And then he somehow went 60 km to plant mines. After he was killed villagers went to take the body. But they were threatened by pointing a gun against the head of the driver. Afterwards the Governor announced that a militant was killed. They did not allow us during the autopsy and they wrote an arbitrary report."What I believe was Yüksekova Haber's original article from the 16th of August was titled, "Ektiklerini biçemediler [they couldn't harvest their crops]", with the photo caption, "köyler boşaltıldı, ekinler tarlada kaldı [the villages evacuated, the crops stayed in the fields]":
Naif Kayacan, SHP member of Province Assembly, said: "We were together at about 5 pm. His uncle Isa Sakar was also with us and we spent some 2 hours. At about 7pm he went home to fix something. Few hours later I heard he was killed. Possibly the official announcement does not reflect the truth. The way to his house is very dark. He must have been taken and then brought [to] the place where he was killed." IHD Hakkari branch Chair Necibe Günes announced: "If he had been a militant his ID could not have been identified at least for 3 days."
Hakkari'de güvenlik gerekçesiyle boşaltılan köy sakinlerinin mağduriyeti devam ediyor. Valilik ve kaymakamlık izniyle ektikleri tarlaları şimdi yine olaylar yüzünden biçemiyorlar.... Güvenlik gerekçesiyle 1995 yılında boşaltılan Çukurca'nın Kavaklı köyü sakinleri, 2007 yılı baharında valilik ve kaymakamlık izni ile geri dönüş yaparak tarım arazilerini ekti.This perverse plan of establishing Turkish security through Kurdish insecurity does not work; it creates insecurity for both Kurds and Turks and, it can only be assumed, that is its true aim.
Köylerine 12 yıl sonra tekrar dönen vatandaşlar, ekinleri toplamadan bölgede olaylar yüzünden tekrar köylerini boşaltmak zorunda kaldı.
Kavaklı köyü sakinlerinden Ubeydullah, Ali Turan, Ali ve Süleyman Tekin, Mehmet Yalçın ile Hasan Sevi, geri dönüş yaptıkları köylerinde ektikleri ekinleri biçemediklerini söyledi.
Son zamanlarda bölgede başlayan olaylardan dolayı güvenlik gerekçesi ile köylerine gidemediklerini belirten vatandaşlar, ekinlerini toplamadan köyden çıkarılmalarına tepki gösterdi.
Köylüler, "1995 yılından önce köyümüz 150 hane idi. Tarım ve hayvancılıkla uğraştığımız için devletin yardımına ihtiyacımız yoktu. Ancak olayların başlamasıyla birlikte güvenlik gerekçesi ile köyümüz boşaltıldı. 2007 yılının bahar ayında valilik ve kaymakamlık tarafından köyümüzde tarlalarımızı ekmemize müsaade edildi. Köye geri dönen 6 aile olarak arazilerimizde buğday, arpa ve sebze ektik.
Ektiğimiz ürünleri toplayabilseydik kış boyunca bize yeterdi ve devletin kapısında gözümüz olmazdı. Ancak son zamanlarda artan olaylar yüzünden tekrar köyümüzden çıkarıldık ve ekinlerimizi toplamaya gidemiyoruz. Güvenlik gerekçesi ile köylerimize bir daha giremeyeceğimiz söylendi. Köye gidemediğimiz için tüm emeklerimiz boşa gitti" dedi.