Witnesses describe the massacre in Zergelê

Children describe a day of terror

QANDIL – In the village of Zergelê, following airstrikes by Turkish air forces that killed eight civilians a week ago, the children recall “a terrible war”.

On August 1st between 4:15 and 6 AM, Turkish jets bombed the village of Zergelê located in the Qandil region of the Kurdistan Federal Region. Six of the 37 horses in the village were destroyed during the attack and eight civilians (including a pregnant woman) were killed. Fifteen others were grievously wounded.

Turkey justified the intervention, qualifying it of an attack on “a PKK camp” giving all the appareances of a village, including a mosque. And the Turkish government to ask: “But what were civilians doing in such a place?” meaning in the village. In the village where all the windows have been blown out and where the courtyard in the mosque is the last safe place in which the children can still play.

The children follow our every step as we make out way through the destroyed village. We come across Bavêl Muhammed, 6, who is searching for his toys in the rubble. Bavêl pulls up a yellow and brown cushion with a Kurdish design, shows it to us and says, “look, this was my pillow”. He points to the place where his grandmother Ayse was killed. “I saw, the planes hit her. Erdoğan pilots the planes; my mother told me,” Bavêl says. He runs in front of us to recover his grandmother’s torn prayer rug. “She got up to pray. Mama Ayse died on it,” he says with a child’s voice and casual manner. Then Bavêl starts silently digging the ground in the hope of finding the brand new graphic tablet his father had just bought for him.

“I used to love planes a lot, but now, I’m scared of them,” he says.

The local grocer, Zagros Rojhilat was killed by the bombs also tells us Melisa Ibrahim, 5. Zagros had fled the Iranian regime and taken shelter in this village where he had opened a grocery store.

“The bombs exploded and one of our neighbors died. Now we don’t have a grocery store any more,” Melisa says simply.

Mahruf Mecid, 16, lost his father Mecid Abdullah under the bombs. Mahruf expressed his ange rat the complete silence observed by the Kurdistan Federal Region over the bombing and the twisted reports published of the incident in Turkish newspapers.

“He was my father, not a guerillero,” Mahruf says, showing us photos he had taken of his father during a Muslim holiday. “No one hears us. They behave as if we all deserved to die.” On the day of the massacre, his father had rushed to the spot of the explosions to transport the wounded.

“My mother, my brothers and sisters and I, we were watching my father. I saw the planes coming over the hill, I cried out but no one could hear me because of the noise,” Mahruf says. “I yelled ‘papa’ but he didn’t hear me. The bombs started coming down and I ran toward him: he was dead. I embraced my father’s destroyed body for hours; I cried. This is the condition in which I will always remember my father.”