Turkish governor’s bodyguards batter person protesting negligence in fire disaster

Diyarbakır Governor’s bodyguards battered a person who was recording the villagers protesting against the governor for the electric company’s possible negligence in the fire disaster that killed 15 people in Turkey’s southeastern region. Locals have asserted that the fire was ignited by sparks from electric wires, whereas the government contends that it was caused by stubble burning.

Duvar English

Diyarbakır Governor Ali İhsan Su’s bodyguards assaulted a person when villagers began to protest against him due to possible negligences in the fatal fire disaster that occurred in the country’s southeastern region.

On 20 June, fires killed 15 people in the rural neighborhoods of southeastern Diyarbakır province’s Çınar district and Mardin province’s Mazıdağı district.

Diyarbakır Governor on June 22 visited the families mourning their relatives killed in the fire. Villagers reacted against the governor who said that the fire was caused by "stubble burning.”

Locals have been stating that the fire was caused by the sparks from electric wires while the government argued that the fire was a result of stubble burning.

As the argument escalated upon the reaction of the villagers, a person who was present at the condolence service wanted to record the events with their mobile phone. 

Meanwhile, the governor's bodyguards battered the person and forcibly deleted the footage. The governor had to leave the village due to the increasing tension.

Among those who reacted to the governor during the altercation was İbrahim Eren, against whom the Dicle Electricity Distribution Company (DEDAŞ) filed a criminal complaint due to his statements.

Stating that the governor should make a statement after reviewing the findings, Eren said that it would only be after the investigations that it would be revealed whether the villagers or DEDAŞ were responsible for the fire.

Eren rejected the official statements and explained that the fields had not yet been harvested by showing the burnt ears in the area where the fire started.

He stated that the electric wires were not taut enough and that after the fire, the DEDAŞ employees came and stretched the wires before the investigation.

Eren stated that a person who reacted to the governor and the district governor's statements by saying "You are lying" was beaten by the governor's bodyguards. "Following this, we asked the governor and his bodyguards to leave the condolence ceremony. The assaulted citizen is afraid to speak out. We are in mourning and experiencing trauma. Despite this, we are under pressure. Despite everything we've been through, they come and say, 'Don't defame the state.' We are not defaming the state; we are trying to explain our situation. All the villagers know that DEDAŞ is at fault," he said.

Villagers say that DEDAŞ has been deliberately misleading the authorities in order not to compensate them for the damage they have suffered.

DEDAŞ paid compensation for 2023 fire victims

A fire broke out in the same area in June 2023 and 167 decares of land was burnt. After the field owners filed a criminal complaint against DEDAŞ for similar negligence claims, the experts found the company "primarily at fault."

Last year's expert report on the fire stated, "If the connections of conductors to insulators are affected by cold and heat over time, causing deformations or loosening, it can lead to heating and even sparks in case of excessive heat."

Diyarbakır 10th Civil Court of First Instance ruled that DEDAŞ, which the expert had found responsible for not performing proper maintenance, acted unlawful and ordered compensation to be paid to the plaintiffs.

The Diyarbakır Branch of the Chamber of Electrical Engineers has also stated that there was no stubble in the area of the recent fire and that no precautions were taken against fire on the routes where the wires pass.

The images show the wires in the region where the fire broke out.