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Lawyers file complaint against soldiers for allegedly harassing shepherds in Kurdish province

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The Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD) has filed a complaint against soldiers who were allegedly engaged in violent behavior toward four shepherds in the Lice district of the predominantly Kurdish province of Diyarbakır, local media reported on Thursday.

According to a report by the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency on Wednesday, four members of the Yalavuz family, who work as shepherds in Lice, were treated violently by a group of soldiers on June 3.

The incident went public when a TikTok user named “Specialist Sergeant Commander Berk” shared images showing three individuals handcuffed and forced to lie on the ground, while another person is seen sitting on the ground in front of a soldier.

Hanifi Yalavuz, one of the four shepherds in the video, told Mezopotamya that the soldiers handcuffed and kicked them in the head at around 3:20 a.m. accusing them of firing at police during a clash that took place in the area a short while ago.

Following the incident, the Diyarbakır branch of the ÖHD filed a complaint against the soldiers with the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

“Torture is absolutely prohibited under all circumstances. An effective investigation is required. [This incident] is a result of the unlimited authority given to the law enforcement and the policy of impunity in the judicial system,” the ÖHD said in a written statement released on Wednesday.

The Diyarbakır Bar Association also released a written statement, saying they will be closely following the legal process.

Meanwhile, Green Left Party (YSP) Diyarbakır MP Serhat Eren posed a parliamentary question to Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya about the incident, saying that the “systematic torture and massacres” of the Kurdish people, especially by law enforcement officers and soldiers, are the result of a policy of impunity promoted by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its partners.

The AKP increased its crackdown on Kurds, especially after the collapse of Ankara’s settlement process with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community – in 2015.

The settlement process, which refers to direct talks between the AKP government and Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the PKK –– began in 2012 and ended after two police officers were executed in southeastern Şanlıurfa province in June 2015.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has attracted widespread accusations of racism and of equating the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and Kurds with the PKK terrorists in his speeches.

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