A 19-year-old seasonal agricultural from the southeastern, predominantly-Kurdish province of Diyarbakır succumbed to his injuries after being attacked and shot earlier this year in the northwestern province of Sakarya for waving at a vehicle that was bearing the Diyarbakır license plate code, according to local media reports on Monday.
Şirin Tosun spent 51 days in the hospital after being shot in August, before passing way on Oct. 13.
Tosun’s friend, 19-year-old Mahsun Zeren, who survived the attack, spent 15 days next to his friend in the hospital, before returning to Diyarbakır and then traveling to the province of Bitlis to pick potatoes. The two young workers were in Sakarya for the summer collecting hazelnuts.
“We would go every summer. It was raining, and that day we didn’t work. We went to go wander around in the city center. Upon returning, we got out near the village. We waved at a car with the number 21 [Diyarbakır] license plate. We were happy to have seen the car, and laughed as we continued,” Zeren said.
“Around 50 meters ahead, one in a group of six people asked ‘why are you laughing, why did you wave?’ We said ‘they were from Diyarbakır and since we are from the same province we waved so we would miss our hometown less,” Zeren said. At that time, according to Zeren, the group began to curse Diyarbakır and the car that they waved at, and began throw beer bottles at the two young men. While trying to protect themselves from the bottles, the men then pulled out guns and began to fire, hitting Tosun while Zeren managed to escape and go get help at the nearby village.
Upon returning, Zeren noticed that Tosun had been shot in the head, and that there was only one person there waiting from the group. “Don’t worry, the bullet just grazed him. Don’t tell anyone, we’ll figure this out amongst ourselves,” the man said, according to Zeren.
Zeren waited with the wounded Tosun for 40 minutes as taxis and other vehicles declined to pick the up, eventually heading to the hospital when an ambulance arrived at the scene. While three of the men Zeren identified were taken into custody and the shooter was formally arrested, Zeren said that he does not know at what the stage the investigation into the killing is currently at, adding that his only request is that the 50-year-old man Z.A. that fired the shots be brought to justice.
“We didn’t have a problem with anyone. I’m not going to [to Sakarya] to work anymore. Whether we stayed in a tent or in house it didn’t matter, it was like a barn. There wasn’t a normal, proper house,” Zeren said, adding that local workers from the area started at 8AM and were done by 5PM, but that they began work at 7AM and were finished at 7PM, and that the locals received 100 TL for a day’s work while they only were paid 85 TL.
“Although we were working at the same place, the local workers were given food but we had to make our own food. Because we are Kurdish, we are given second-class treatment,” Zeren said.