Turkish shelling kills teenage villager.

It is CPT’s assessment after conducting on-site interviews as well as reviewing photographic and video evidence that the Turkish military launched rockets from a Turkish base located in the sub-district of Shairwan Mazn near Halania village, Iraqi Kurdistan, onto a civilian population on June 30, 2018.  The strikes resulted in a fatality of Dunya Rasheed, a nineteen-year-old female, high school student, and resident of Halania village.

Dunya Rasheed.

On 10, July, 2018 CPT made a field visit to, Shairwan Mazn sub-district, within Erbil governorate of Iraqi Kurdistan, after media reports of a fatality in the area of Halania village.  The following is a summary of our findings as well as parts of testimonies obtained from others who were present at the time of that attack. 

On 28 June 2018, villagers attempted to harvest nuts from a portion of their lands within 1km of a Turkish base located in Shairwan Mazn sub district.  Turkish military fired mortar shells in the villagers’ proximity causing the fields and a majority of the mountain to catch fire. 

On 30 June 2018, two days after the fires, villagers returned to the area in attempts to salvage unburned nuts. Nuts, along with other crops planted on the mountain, are a main source of yearly income for local villages. In the afternoon, Dunya Rasheed, along with her family, joined other villagers already harvesting in the fields. Her brother Saman reported to CPT:

“There were already families there when we arrived.  They had been there since the morning. We were all carrying our baskets to harvest nuts.” Saman reported that there were many villagers in the area when the attack started. “The first mortar shell from the base went toward our village.  It didn’t hit it.  It landed outside…. Then a second shell came toward us. There were about 30 people in the area, mostly kids.”  

The second shell shot through Dunya Rasheed’s basket that she was holding as well as her leg. She died as a result of her wounds. 

Basket that Dunya Rasheed was carrying.

Saman continued to describe the events directly after his sister was struck.  He said that at first no soldiers came.  Family members helped take Dunya’s body from the hillside. Other villagers and family members stayed behind to gather the baskets of nuts that had been harvested. Villagers reported that after Dunya’s body was removed, Turkish soldiers came from the base and threatened the villagers. The soldiers warned them not to take photographs or video of the scene.  The soldiers then took the mortar shell and fragments that struck Dunya and returned to the base. 

(Prior to these events, villagers had already filmed and photographed the area where Dunya was killed.  CPT was able to obtain this visual evidence. These photographs have been attached.)

International law states that it is paramount and a duty of any military engaged in combat to use due diligence to distinguish enemy combatants from the general population.  The proximity of the villagers to the Turkish base, coupled with the time of day, (approximately 15:30 / 3:30pm) and clear skies, provided conditions for easily distinguishing villagers and children harvesting crops from armed combatants.

After reviewing testimony from multiple villagers present at the time of the attack, the local Mukhtar, local sub-mayor, and reviewing photographic and video evidence: CPT concludes that the killing of Dunya Rasheed resulted from a direct attack on a civilian population and was in violation of humanitarian law.