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Treatment of little kids in Diyarbakır’s Sur attracts wide condemnation

A video widely shared on social media in Turkey shows police patrolling the streets of Diyarbakır’s Sur district forcing children and women to remove their clothes. In the video, which was apparently recorded by other police officers in a patrol car during the days of armed clashes in the Kurdish-populated region, a police officer stops children aged between 5 and 13 for security checks. He asks them to remove their coats and expose their midriffs. Police officers in the patrol car are heard speaking about the children and women, sometimes pejoratively, calling them “terrorists.”

In December 2015, an indefinite 24-hour curfew was declared in Sur. The clashes in Sur ended in March 2016, but the curfew has remained in large parts of the district. Following the forced evictions many buildings were demolished. Thousands of civilians remain unable to return to their homes.

The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has brought the scenes of women and children being forced to undress to  the parliamentary agenda. Diyarbakır MP Feleknas Uca  submitted inquiries to Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu. In the inquiries, it was stated that people predominantly consisting of children and women in the images, who were evacuated 104 days after the curfew, were forced to undress and harassed. The inquiries include the allegation that the video was taken by police officers.

The head of the Diyarbakır Bar Association, Ahmet Özmen, said there were serious human rights violations and demanded an independent and impartial investigation..

Evrensel newspaper interviewed a young girl shown in the video. The newspaper reported the girl has been staying at the Child Protection Agency since being apprehended and that her mother and brother had been arrested.

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