Former soldier says "executing Kurds was allowed"

K, who served as a soldier on the Van-Iranian border, told about the execution of Kurds at the border, the explosives that went off in the hands of children, and Afghan refugees who entered the border easily.

180 Kurdish villagers were killed in the province of Van, and its Özalp, Saray and Başkale districts, between 2002 and 2012, on the grounds that they were 'smugglers'.

Despite this massacre, not a single person was punished, while all investigations were closed with a "no prosecution" verdict. 

K, who completed his military service on the Van-Iranian border in 2009 and 2010, told about his experience and said that killing Kurds at the border was allowed and protected.

Not giving his name for security reason, K said he did his military service in 2009-2010 at what was then called General Mustafa Muğlalı Barracks.

He said he witnessed the deaths of 3 civilians in a year and 5 children in Özalp who died due to an explosive. Stating that the horses taken from the villagers were sold to the villagers again, K said: "The horses were then taken to the stream and shot."

How many people were killed while you were there?

I know that 3 people were killed while I was there. They called them "smugglers" and they called it "border violation". The Iranian side was saying 'Turkey shot them', the Turkish side would say 'Iran shot them' and the incidents were closed. If a ballistic examination had been made, it would have revealed who shot them, but it was not done.

Was it clear who gave the order to shoot?

There was no shoot order. The soldiers already had the authority to shoot. There are a thousand people in the military. They were shooting and killing people. They knew that killing Kurds would go unpunished, so they could fire without a 'Stop' warning. The people who were killed were innocent. [...]

Families complained after the killings. Was any investigation launched?

When I went there, the expert sergeant killed a teenager aged 16-17. The family was ooking for an expert sergeant who shot. We were told to say this: "You will not say the name of the expert sergeant, you will say that the appointment has come and he has gone." That family came, went, telephoned for days, and everyone told the family that the special sergeant had gone. As it is, the expert sergeant was taken to another police station in the same area and taken under protection. You journalists should illuminate this incident.

When you served there, 5 children died in Özalp as a result of the explosion of a hand grenade near a battalion. What did you hear about this incident?

Of course I was there at that time. They told us that children entered through wire fences and died as a result of an explosive device they took with them. The event was thus closed. However, if a weapon is lost, military officials cannot remain silent, never mind when a thousand explosives are missing. Those children have been victims of either a neglect or a conscious situation, I don't know.

Currently there is a lot of talk about Afghans crossing through the Iranian border in Van. How was this crossing, when you were there? Was is not possible to prevent it?

It can be prevented if desired, but some soldiers inside and some gangs outside work together. There is a lot of money to be made from human trafficking. They split money among themselves.

Did you witness the negotiations between Turkey and Iran military officials?

They used to meet often. Turkey and Iran had agreed limit and everything was being made public. But I do not know the content of the meetings.