Turkey's Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has for the first time spoken about the case of two Kurdish villagers who were thrown out of a military helicopter in the eastern province of Van in September.
Soylu referred to villagers Osman Şiban and Servet Turgut as “militias” and admitted that they had been bundled into a helicopter and flown away by soldiers during a military operation.
Although saying that the allegations of the two men being thrown out the helicopter “defy logic,” the minister did not completely dismiss these reports.
Soylu made the comments on Nov. 27 while answering lawmakers' questions during parliament budget discussions. Soylu maintained his stance that the helicopter’s door cannot be opened while it is flying up in the sky.
“I do not think that anyone of you got on a helicopter as much as I did, except generals. Look, I was the one who said reports of their [villagers] being pushed away from the helicopter, it [door] being opened defy logic. But, they [villagers] did get on it and came, so if something happened, whatever happened will come out with both our internal administrative investigation and judicial investigation,” Soylu said.
Şiban and Turgut were detained in an army operation and were subjected to torture on Sept. 11. No information could have been obtained on their whereabouts for two days following their detention. Their families were then able to locate them at a hospital in Van.
Eye-witnesses said that the two men had been dropped from a helicopter.
According to hospital records, Şiban and Turgut were brought to the hospital for "getting injured after falling from a helicopter." Epicrisis reports of Şiban and Turgut also featured the phrase "falling from a high place."
While Şiban suffers from memory loss, Turgut died on Sept. 30 after spending 20 days in a coma. Turgut's son had previously said that all the bones in his father's body were broken.
Soylu did not touch upon the torture inflicted upon the men, claiming that they were aiding “terrorists” in the region.
Asked why he waited for two months before releasing a statement regarding the case, Soylu said that he was “sick.” It was not clear if Soylu was referring to his infection with COVID-19, which he had announced on Oct. 31.
Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Garo Paylan also took the stage during the discussions recalling that the Interior Ministry had paid compensation to Kurdish villager Abdi Aykut over the systematic torture he was exposed to.
“Osman Şiban and Servet Turgut were exposed to torture and one of them lost his life. You have justified this situation and gave a personal verdict. Two years ago, you had also given a similar verdict for Abdi Aykut, saying 'That old man was accomodating terrorism.' The court acquitted Abdi Aykut and your Interior Ministry paid compensation to Abdi Aykut. Do not jump to such verdicts,” Paylan said.
Aykut was detained on Feb. 11, 2017 over allegations of aiding and abetting the outlawed the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and remained in custody for two weeks, where he was exposed to torture.