Who was the man Turkish police dragged through the streets?

Screen grab from a video showing a Kurdish militant being dragged behind a police car.
Screen grab from a video showing a Kurdish militant being dragged behind a police car.


Video of a Turkish police car dragging a Kurdish militant's dead body through the streets has caused outrage on social media networks. The footage was shot in the southeastern city of Sirnak, where bloody clashes between Turkish security forces and Kurdish rebels have been going on for several weeks.

The video has provoked revulsion amongst the country's Kurdish community after it was shared on social media networks on Sunday. The man seen in the grisly footage, Haci Lokman Birlik, is believed to have been fighting in the ranks of the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H), a group of militant youths affiliated with the separatist PKK party. Ferhat Encu, a representative of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Sirnak, told FRANCE 24 that Birlik was executed following clashes between the YDG-H and Turkish security forces.


"Instead of taking him to a hospital, they executed him"

"It happened last Saturday at about 1:30am [Editor's note: October 3]. During the clashes, Birlik was injured in the leg. The police stopped him, and instead of taking him to a hospital, they executed him. Then, they criss-crossed the city streets with his dead body tied to the back of their vehicle, as you can see in the video. It's the first time that we've seen this type of incident in Sirnak. I think the police officers did this because they were convinced that they'd never have to answer for it [Editor's note: The footage appears to have been filmed by someone riding in the same vehicle, meaning they were likely a Turkish police officer]. "

The video comes amid a downward spiral in relations between Turkish authorities and the PKK. On July 22, the militant group claimed responsibility for the murder of two Turkish policemen in revenge for a suicide attack that had left 32 Kurdish activists dead in the town of Suruç two days earlier [Editor's note : The Islamic State group claimed to be behind the suicide blast]. The bloody turn of events laid waste to a peace process that was meant to put an end to years of war between the government and the PKK. At the start of August, Turkish jets began carrying out air strikes on Kurdish rebels based in Turkey and Iraq.

Just before the video first made its appearance, Selahattin Demirtas, an official belonging to the HDP, uploaded this photo to his Twitter account on Sunday, October 4.

Government forces have been tightening the noose around several cities in southern Turkey that have traditionally been strongholds for Kurdish separatists, transforming some cities into urban battlegrounds. The situation is particularly bad in Cizre, where residents, caught up in daily clashes, are facing extreme medicine shortages.

Ankara, already accused of deliberately targeting civilians in Cizre, has promised an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Birlik’s death. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu weighed in by remarking that "we cannot condone such images, even if it concerns a terrorist who attacked security forces with a rocket launcher."