Turkish army demolishes grave of Peshmerga who died fighting IS

Soldiers also detained killed Peshmerga volunteer Sait Curukkaya's brother.
author_image Ari Khalidi

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish troops in the Kurdish province of Bingol on Thursday destroyed the grave of a Peshmerga volunteer, Sait Curukkaya, who was killed during the Kurdish-Iraqi offensive to capture the then Islamic State (IS)-held city of Mosul last year.

Mustafa Ozcelik, the leader of the Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK), a small pro-Kurdish faction in Turkey, confirmed the reports during a telephone interview with Kurdistan 24.

Pictures circulated on social media showed Curukkaya's grave in his village of Chilkani leveled to the ground. (Photo: PAK)
Pictures circulated on social media showed Curukkaya's grave in his village of Chilkani leveled to the ground. (Photo: PAK)

“The soldiers told the Curukkaya family they had received orders from the Ankara-appointed governor of Bingol to demolish Dr. Sait’s grave and a memorial in his honor,” Ozcelik said.

Soldiers also detained his brother Necmettin Curukkaya who resisted the destruction of the grave and the unfinished monument. Authorities later released him after an interrogation.

Curukkaya, who went by the codename Dr. Suleiman, died in late October 2016 in a Germany hospital after succumbing to wounds he received while defusing an IED bomb in a village northeast of Mosul where Kurdish and Iraqi forces were making advances against IS.

Pictures circulated on Kurdish-speaking social media showed Curukkaya’s grave in his village of Chilkani leveled to the ground.

The former, unfinished state of the now destroyed monument for Curukkaya in his home province of Bingol. (Photo: PAK)
The former, unfinished state of the now destroyed monument for Curukkaya in his home province of Bingol. (Photo: PAK)

The governorate ordered the early morning destruction on the grounds the monument and grave were not built in accordance with laws, said Ozcelik, citing family sources.

Following the IS attack on the Kurdistan Region in 2014, Curukkaya returned from Germany where he was settled for over a decade to join the Peshmerga forces.

The volunteer Peshmerga used to be a top commander within the ranks of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), fighting the Turkish state for larger Kurdish rights, for years until his defection in 2000 from the group over ideological differences.

Turkish civilian and military authorities regularly bomb and destroy PKK fighters’ graves and cemeteries in Kurdish provinces.

Curukkaya played a critical role in the US-backed 2015 Kurdish campaign to liberate the town of Sinjar (Shingal) where IS had massacred and sexually enslaved thousands of members of the Yezidi religious minority.

Upon return from Germany in November 2016, Curukkaya’s body was sent to Bingol in Turkey from Kurdistan’s capital Erbil where Kurdish authorities held a military ceremony for him.

During his two years of service with Peshmerga, he defused over 5,000 IEDs in several fronts in the war against IS.

In one particular instant, Curukkaya defused an IS vehicle laden with almost five tons of explosives during the battle for Shingal.

 

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany