Duvar English 

The case of 12-year-old Uğur Kaymaz, who was shot and killed by police alongside his father outside of their home in the Kızıltepe district in the southeastern province of Mardin in 2004 has been moved by lawyers to the European Court of Human rights. The move came after Turkish courts rejected applications for a retrial against the police who were acquitted in the shootings, according to a report in the Evrensel daily on Thursday.

13 bullets were found in the child’s body, while eight bullets were found in the body of his father after they were killed by police. In an announcement that came immediately following the killings, the Mardin governorate branded Kaymaz and his father as terrorists. 

A trial was opened against four policemen in a Mardin heavy penalty court, though it was moved to a court in the province of Eşkişehir, further in the west of Turkey between Ankara and Istanbul, for “security reasons.” The four police were acquitted of the killings after the court determined that they had acted in self-defense. 

Lawyers had taken the matter to the European Court of Human (ECHR) rights in 2014, which determined that Kaymaz and his father’s right to life had been violated, ruling that Turkey had to pay reparations totaling 140,000 euros to the family. Following the decision, the Mardin branch of the Human Rights Association (İHD) applied for a retrial of the policemen in the Eskişehir court, but the application was rejected without explanation. 

In 2015, following the application’s rejection, lawyers applied to Turkey’s Constitutional Court (AYM), who replied several years later by declaring that the ECHR’s decision was arbitrary, and that the policemen would not be tried again in court. Lawyers once again decided to bring the case to the ECHR. 

In 2016, a statue built in Kızıltepe in the memory of Kaymaz was removed by the appointed trustee district mayor, one of dozens of government figures who were installed in their positions after mayors from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party were stripped from office. The new mayor removed the statue and replaced it with a clock tower. The appointed mayor of the Derik district in Mardin demolished a park that was built in Kaymaz’ name. 

Meanwhile, Kaymaz’ mother Makbule, who worked as a janitor in municipality-run education facility, was removed from her job by decree on the anniversary of the killings of her late son and husband. 

“Turkey has actually turned into a graveyard of slain children,” said the Kaymaz family lawyer Erdal Kuzu. 

“The state is working to prevent the convictions of the defendants, because it itself does not want to appear guilty. With this policy of non-conviction, the state is protecting itself,” Kuzu said. 

Kuzu added that Kaymaz’ name is representative of a memory, and that parks and statues bearing his name were built so that people would not forget what happened. By removing his name from these places, the state is trying to erase this memory and make people forget what happened, according to Kuzu.