‘Disrespect for the dead should be stopped’
The ‘Respect for the Dead and Justice Initiative’ strives to stop the disrespect towards the dead and cemeteries, and to ensure that people of all faiths have the right to bury their dead in a manner befitting human dignity.
The Turkish state's attacks on the dead of the Kurdish people continue as part of its dirty war methods. The bodies of guerrillas who were martyred in recent years have been delivered to their families in cargo packages by couriers. The body of Hakan Arslan, who was killed during the self-government resistance in Sur district of Amed in 2016, was recently delivered to his father, Ali Rıza Arslan, in a cardboard box at Diyarbakır Courthouse. The incident led to a public backlash when it was covered by media outlets.
Adnan Orhan from the ‘Respect for the Dead and Justice Initiative’ spoke to ANF concerning the Turkish state's attacks on the dead and cemeteries.
Orhan remarked that there have been cruel policies against the death of ancient peoples, in particular the Kurds, who have been ethnically marginalized throughout history because of their identity. He stated that different identities and faiths have been subjected to more pain and cruelty after the republic was established and recalled the massacres of Ağrı, Zilan, Dersim and Koçgiri.
ALL GOVERNMENTS DID IT
Orhan stressed that the official attitude towards the Kurds has not changed in the country for nearly a century. “The dominant mentality has persisted through racist and fascist rhetoric and actions. When we consider the last 40 years, what has been experienced is just unnamable.
We know that during the notorious 90s, they burned villages, carried out extrajudicial executions, unidentified murders, pushed people out of helicopters or threw the corpses away into streams and acid wells. Moreover, we saw how the bodies of those murdered were dragged through the streets tied behind armoured police vehicles. During the curfews, they did not bury the bodies for days, they delivered bones to the families by cargo or in a box at the courthouse. They devastated cemeteries... On the other hand, sick prisoners are left to die. Unfortunately, no government has ever taken care of these problems. The current government has also ignored these issues,” he said.
Orhan said that when he saw Arslan's body given to his father in a bag, he remembered his relatives who had been killed in the 90s. “My father, uncle and cousins were buried in a mass grave in the Bağcılar village of Kulp. Their bones were delivered to our family in a bag. Then, following a court decision, they were buried in a cemetery of the nameless in a single bag. I was deeply saddened when I saw Uncle Ali Rıza receiving bones in a box. This shows that the state mentality of the 90s, unfortunately, still persists. There is no excuse for this. It is neither humane, moral, nor conscientious. The situation is very clear and not much has changed. These policies are the outcome of a monist mentality which does not grant the right to life to others.”
PEOPLE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO BURY THEIR DEAD
Orhan underlined that there is a respect for the dead in every society and culture as “a person's life is over. Relatives do their last duty with a funeral ceremony. Burials are also a final farewell to the dead. Maltreatment of the dead damages the conscience of society. It bolsters hate. Everyone has the right to bury their dead in a manner befitting human dignity. Therefore, as the ‘Respect for the Dead and Justice Initiative’, we strive to stop the disrespect towards the dead and cemeteries, and to ensure that people of all faiths have the right to bury their dead in a manner befitting human dignity. Our aim is to expose these disrespectful approaches to the dead and to emphasize that everyone needs a democratic and dignified life.”