Village guard chief arrested after killing 28-year-old man in Mardin

A day after the violent death of a man in a village near Midyat, the gunman has been arrested. Two brothers of the village guard chief are also in custody.

One day after the violent death of a man in a village near Midyat district of Mardin, the shooter has been arrested. The criminal division of the district court in Midyat also issued an arrest warrant for two of the suspect's brothers on Monday. The three men are accused of premeditated murder. They are now in a prison in Mardin province.

28-year-old Mazlum Musa Çelik was shot dead on Sunday in the village of Mesken (Turkish name: Çamyurt). Relatives of the man stated that the fatal bullets were fired from the gun of the village guard chief Şirin Akçay. There had previously been a dispute between Çelik and the village guards. The background to the incident was the victim's demand that Şirin Akçay and his brothers Veysi and Mahsum pay back money they had lent him privately.

After Çelik was seriously injured as a result of the gunshot wound, Şirin Akçay, according to witnesses, went to the Çeliks' house accompanied by his brothers and threatened the family. Meanwhile, the victim bled to death in the middle of the village square. The gendarmerie (military police), which had been notified in the meantime, then sealed off Mesken, and Akçay, who is also the village head, was not caught until hours later.   

Brother of victim complains of "terror" by village guards

Idris Çelik, the brother of the slain Mazlum Musa Çelik, spoke of a "regime of terror" that the village guards installed in Mesken. "With the weapons they get from the state, they spread fear and terror. They place themselves above the law and have already broken it in many cases. They oppress the villagers. Recently, they have even been killing people. This is what we will fight against," Çelik said. Meanwhile, Mazlum Musa Çelik has been buried in Mesken.

Village guards

Village guards are paramilitary units used in Kurdistan against guerrillas and unwelcome opposition members. They consist to a considerable extent of tribal leaders, large landowners, families, and individuals who have often worked with the state for decades in an attempt to advocate for the state's interests in Kurdistan. Some of the village guards join this system voluntarily, while others are threatened with murder, arrest, and expulsion and become village guards under pressure. The Hamidiye regiments in the Ottoman Empire are considered the historical model of the Village Guards. Today's village guard system emerged in 1985, a year after the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) launched its armed struggle. At that time, the Turkish government under Turgut Özal began recruiting and arming Kurdish tribes and clans in the war against the PKK. Thousands of Kurdish villages that rejected the village guard system were burned and razed to the ground by the state in the 1990s.