My moth­er lay in the street for exact­ly sev­en days… None of us slept in case dogs or birds came over her. She remained there and we felt dead 150 meters away…The state griev­ed us as much pain as one can grieve anoth­er. Imag­ine that your moth­er stay in the mid­dle of the street for sev­en days, exact­ly sev­en days… one eas­i­ly can­not stay okay with it, one can­not…”1

This paper intends to analyse the ter­ror which has been under­gone since the Suruç mas­sacre on June 20th, 2015 in Turkey and Kur­dis­tan, both of which have turned into a topog­ra­phy of death and funer­al, with­in a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive as regards the pow­er the state has assert­ed over the dead. Doubtless­ly, the peri­od in ques­tion exceeds the lim­its of this paper. That is why the paper has the inten­tion of focus­ing only on some sto­ries that are known, or bet­ter, have gained pub­lic vis­i­bil­i­ty due to the attacks on their dead bod­ies amongst oth­er thou­sands killed in the mil­i­tary oper­a­tions fol­low­ing the cur­few declared in the Kur­dish cities and towns on August 16th, 20152. I will address to a new aspect of the form of hege­mo­ny the Turk­ish State has tak­en on in Kur­dis­tan, pur­suant to the con­cept of “necro-pol­i­tics,” coined by Achille Mbe­m­be. It is nec­es­sary to note that the con­cept Mbe­m­be put into use is not one which excludes colo­nial­ism and bio-pol­i­tics in rela­tion to it; on the con­trary, they are inter­re­lat­ed. In this paper will the forms of Turk­ish State’s hege­mo­ny in Kur­dis­tan be under­tak­en in this respect.


Suruç vic­tims

The form of pow­er the Turk­ish State has assert­ed over dead bod­ies in Kur­dis­tan is not actu­al­ly a new phe­nom­e­non. The prac­tice of exert­ing hege­mo­ny over the dead bod­ies of the Kurds (more often those who are rebel­lious) through appro­pri­a­tion and/or exter­mi­na­tion was applied to the lead­ers of the Kur­dish rebel­lions sub­se­quent to the procla­ma­tion of the repub­lic. For instance, after the Sheikh Said Rebel­lion, which result­ed in fail­ure, Said and his 46 com­rades were exe­cut­ed and buried in a place which is still not known. Sim­i­lar­ly, such lead­ers of the Aza­di Move­ment as Cibran­lı Halit Bey, Yusuf Ziya Bey and Seyid Abdülka­dir were buried in an unknown place after their exe­cu­tion. The predica­ment of Seyid Rıza, who was exe­cut­ed in 1938, and his friends is alike; and many PKK guer­ril­las who have been killed since 1984 have end­ed up in the same way. 

The Power of Dead Body or The Power over Dead Body

The government’s or the pow­ers’ hege­mo­ny over dead bod­ies lean upon fur­ther back than mod­ern hege­mo­ny the­o­ries. In anoth­er words, a way to dom­i­nate liv­ing bod­ies is to cre­ate hege­mo­ny over dead bod­ies, to keep them under con­trol. Since the age of Ancient Greece, the government’s seiz­ing over dead bod­ies has con­tin­ued. One of the most dra­mat­ic exam­ples of this is the Solon laws. Solon brought sig­nif­i­cant pro­hi­bi­tions over dead bod­ies and post-mortem rit­u­als. For exam­ple, in the sec­tion spec­i­fy­ing mourn­ing and funer­al rit­u­als of women, he for­bade women (mourn­ing women) from act­ing in vengeance (clam­or, tear­ing hair out etc.) dur­ing funer­als; sac­ri­fic­ing oxes in the grave­yards was for­bid­den. It was also for­bid­den to bury the dead robed with more than three dif­fer­ent clothes, and to vis­it the grave except for the fam­i­ly member’s (quot­ed by, Yalçınkaya, 2016: 65). It is pos­si­ble to see a sim­i­lar sto­ry in Sopho­cles’ Antigone in 497–406 B.C; sev­er­al cen­turies before Antigone, Hector’s dead body “car­cass” was meant to be fed to dogs by Achilles (Alp­kaya, 2016: 165). The power’s inspec­tion over dead bod­ies also sus­tains with­in the mod­ern hege­mo­ny sys­tems. Accord­ing to Alp­kaya, the pow­er takes inspec­tion over the dead through the relat­ed sec­tions of the con­sti­tu­tion and laws, monop­o­lizes the seizure of the dead body, “inter­feres our dead” (2016:170). The government’s pow­er over dead bod­ies, in oth­er words, teas­ing dead bod­ies, has almost become an admin­is­tra­tion pol­i­cy. Var­i­ous sim­i­lar exam­ples of the ear­ly repub­li­can peri­od almost became an appli­ca­tion of com­mon occur­rence in Kur­dis­tan of 1990s. Numer­ous PKK guer­ril­las’ dead bod­ies gone miss­ing (got lost), uniden­ti­fied mur­ders (cit­ed by the Kur­dish peo­ple as ‘mur­ders by noto­ri­ous agents’) can be read as government’s dis­ci­plin­ing of the liv­ing via death. In the 90s’ Turkey, the state’s attack on the dead shows great resem­blance with the peri­od dis­cussed in this paper. In 1991, Vedat Aydın, the Diyarbakır branch chair­man of People’s Labor Par­ty (Turk­ish: Halkın Emek Par­tisi, HEP) was mur­dered by an uniden­ti­fied agent; how­ev­er, his funer­al cer­e­mo­ny was blocked by law-enforce­ment forces. Attack­ing on the funer­al cer­e­mo­ny, law-enforce­ment forces killed tens of civil­ians; so, entomb­ing of the dead accord­ing­ly to the rit­u­als was blocked by the state. In this exam­ple, the state’s pow­er over the dead body man­i­fests itself as block­ing the funer­al cer­e­mo­ny; in anoth­er exam­ple (of Mehmet Sin­car, MP of Democ­ra­cy Par­ty, DEP, from Mardin), it comes to light in the way of the state’s direct appro­pri­a­tion of the mor­tal is still at work. On Sep­tem­ber 4th 1994, Mehmet Sin­car was mur­dered by armed assault in Bat­man; his mor­tal remain was kept in the hos­pi­tal morgue and wasn’t giv­en to his fam­i­ly or the par­ty. Not allow­ing for a funer­al cer­e­mo­ny, the state made secu­ri­ty forces bury him with­out his fam­i­lies’ and party’s atten­dance. The house where a con­do­lence rit­u­al was arranged for the dead abduct­ed from his fam­i­ly and the par­ty, was bombed; it is a clear indi­ca­tor of the fact that the pow­er over the dead body tries to dom­i­nate the mourn­ing, as well. Through­out the 1990s, even though the state’s attacks on dead peo­ple and funer­al cer­e­monies in Kur­dis­tan were prac­ticed as hege­mo­ny form, that sit­u­a­tion cre­at­ed a con­tra-pow­er, chal­lenge prac­tice with itself. The chal­lenge grow­ing over funer­al and bur­ial cer­e­monies can be read as a chal­lenge of dead bod­ies. In the ear­ly 1990s, the emer­gence of ser­hildan (mass civ­il demon­stra­tions) as a total chal­lenge against the state’s ter­ror over funer­als can be read as a con­tra-hege­mo­ny prac­tice chal­leng­ing the hege­mo­ny over the dead bod­ies. At this point, the dead body itself becomes a polit­i­cal sub­ject, and funer­al cer­e­monies have been tak­en into a polit­i­cal con­text instead of being only a rit­u­al of farewell from the mate­r­i­al world. The attempts to take over the space, mem­o­ry and, indi­rect­ly, the liv­ing under con­trol through inter­ven­tion to dead bod­ies and funer­als cre­ate a con­tra-pow­er as a reflex of pro­tect­ing the dead body and funer­al. In this way, the col­o­niza­tion of the body and the mind by the state is violated.

Photos : Sara A. de Ceano-Vivas Núñez | Qamishlo, 18 de Mayo del 2017

From Biopolitics to Necropolitics

The pow­er in the mod­ern pow­er appa­ra­tus­es based on the ratio­nal mind, com­putabil­i­ty and social engi­neer­ing is not lim­it­ed to pol­i­tics and eco­nom­ics under con­trol in a cer­tain geog­ra­phy; it includes, in Fou­cauldian under­stand­ing, tak­ing over bod­ies and minds and col­o­niz­ing them, too. The colo­nial­ist activ­i­ties in the 19th and 20th cen­tu­ry were based on mod­ern sci­ence. Through eth­no-sta­tis­tics and map­pings essen­tial­ly stem­ming from ethno­graph­ic stud­ies, pop­u­la­tions were divid­ed into race-based cat­e­gories and thus intend­ed to be designed with the help of such sci­ences as soci­ol­o­gy. Sim­i­lar meth­ods have been used in cer­tain prac­tices in Europe and Turkey. The aim of this sec­tion is to focus on the state of excep­tion that has become ordi­nary via the forms of hege­mon­ic pow­er, the right of the hege­mon to kill and keep alive, and in this con­text, on the whole the leben­sraum under the con­trol of pow­er. Accord­ing to Fou­cault, bio pow­er is a form of pow­er that oper­ates on the dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion of who should live and who should die. This kind of pow­er form caus­es it to describe itself, through dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing between the quick and the dead, in the space over which it keeps con­trol bio­log­i­cal­ly. And this also makes it a must to divide the pop­u­la­tion into cat­e­gories (quot­ed, Mbe­m­be, 2016: 231). The cat­e­go­riza­tion of the pop­u­la­tion by bio pow­er is vis­i­ble in the race-based cat­e­go­riza­tion the most. To under­stand the oper­a­tions of this race-based cat­e­go­riza­tion, it would be enlight­en­ing to look at the prac­tices of the colo­nial admin­is­tra­tions. In terms of prac­tices in the world and Turkey3, that hege­mo­ny takes place in an explic­it­ly unlaw­ful area is wit­nessed. In this unlaw­ful area of hege­mo­ny, bio pow­er and block­ade-bare vio­lence (Fanon, 2013: 66) coex­ist (Mbe­m­be, 2016: 241). The right of the hege­mon over the col­o­nized to kill is so arbi­tral that in Fanons words, “you are born at ran­dom, and die at ran­dom in a ran­dom place” (2013: 45). It is cer­tain that this form of death is fre­quent­ly not a nat­ur­al death, but an act of killing by the hege­mon. In a colony, the hege­mon is not sub­ject to any law, and there is no legal oblig­a­tion killing has. How­ev­er, as the col­o­niz­er knows that the col­o­nized can­not be admin­is­tered only by killing, the for­mer insists on the inva­sion of the space and the repro­duc­tion of it. Accord­ing­ly, the col­o­niz­er is not con­tent with keep­ing the col­o­nized under con­trol and/or killing; at the same time, intends to destroy the his­to­ry of the col­o­nized (Biko, 2014: 89). This act of the col­o­niz­er brings about the con­trol of time and space.

As Mbe­m­be puts it, in mod­ern era the colonis­ing inva­sion is “dif­fer­ent from the ear­ly mod­ern era inva­sions in that it com­bines dis­ci­pline with bio-pol­i­tics and necro-pol­i­tics” (2016: 247). The late mod­ern colonis­ing inva­sion which Mbe­m­be con­cep­tion­alis­es on the exam­ple of Israel’s invad­ing Pales­tine is in a con­tent com­posed of com­bi­na­tion of dif­fer­ent hege­mon­ic forms. This new col­o­niz­ing inva­sion con­sist­ed of “the dis­ci­pli­nar­i­an pow­ers, the bio polit­i­cal and necro-polit­i­cal ones” has tak­en on a new state of hege­mo­ny. In the new state, “the block­ade itself” func­tions “as a mil­i­tary insti­tu­tion” (2016: 251).

Entire pop­u­la­tions are the tar­get of the sov­er­eign. The besieged vil­lages and towns are sealed off and cut off from the world. Dai­ly life is mil­i­ta­rized. Free­dom is giv­en to local mil­i­tary com­man­ders to use their dis­cre­tion as to when and whom to shoot. Move­ment between the ter­ri­to­r­i­al cells requires for­mal per­mits. Local civ­il insti­tu­tions are sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly destroyed. The besieged pop­u­la­tion is deprived of their means of income. Invis­i­ble killing is added to out­right exe­cu­tions (Mbe­m­be, 2016, 251).

When this new inva­sion form Mbe­m­be defines is con­tex­tu­al­ized in accord with the cur­fews in Kur­dis­tan, it is cer­tain­ly not pos­si­ble to encounter any dif­fi­cul­ties. In this new form of hege­mo­ny, the pow­er con­sid­ers con­trol mech­a­nisms over the liv­ing bod­ies as of less impor­tance while it estab­lish­es the hege­mo­ny through death. In a necro-polit­i­cal pow­er, dis­ci­plin­ing the body is replaced with the exter­mi­na­tion of it, and in its core, the essen­tial point is but to kill. In the late mod­ern era, Mbe­m­be defines life as follows;

To live under late mod­ern occu­pa­tion is to expe­ri­ence a per­ma­nent con­di­tion of “being in pain”: for­ti ed struc­tures, mil­i­tary posts, and road­blocks every­where; build­ings that bring back painful mem­o­ries of humil­i­a­tion, inter­ro­ga­tions, and beat­ings; cur­fews that imprison hun­dreds of thou­sands in their cramped homes every night from dusk to day­break; sol­diers patrolling the unlit streets, fright­ened by their own shad­ows; chil­dren blind­ed by rub­ber bul­lets; par­ents shamed and beat­en in front of their fam­i­lies; sol­diers uri­nat­ing on fences, shoot­ing at the rooftop water tanks just for fun, chant­i­ng loud offen­sive slo­gans, pound­ing on frag­ile tin doors to fright­en the chil­dren, con­scat­ing papers, or dump­ing garbage in the mid­dle of a res­i­den­tial neigh-bor­hood; bor­der guards kick­ing over a veg­etable stand or clos­ing bor­ders at whim; bones bro­ken; shoot­ings and fatal­i­ties a cer­tain kind of mad­ness (2016; 265).

If we did not know that the words above in the quo­ta­tion were writ­ten for Israel blockad­ing Gaza, we would prob­a­bly think that Mbe­m­be might have penned it down for the events that have tak­en place in the last two years.


Zehra Doğan’s draw­ing
Fight­er woman killed, exposed naked in the street

The Subjecthood of Life to Death in Kurdistan

Though the strate­gies of the Turk­ish state for hege­mo­ny dif­fer in dif­fer­ent peri­ods, they fol­low an artic­u­late course based on the con­ti­nu­ity between the Ottoman mod­ern­iza­tion and the Turk­ish nation-state. The pro­jec­tion of the Ottoman mod­ern­iza­tion in Kur­dis­tan in the 19th cen­tu­ry has the aspects of remov­ing the decen­tral­iza­tion and strength­en­ing the cen­tral struc­ture. This peri­od, par­al­lel to the mod­ern col­o­niza­tion prac­tices, wit­nessed the Ottoman prac­tices of col­o­niza­tion as a way of estab­lish­ing hege­mo­ny over Kur­dis­tan. Nonethe­less, this colo­nial prac­tice is not an expan­sion­ist but a pro­tec­tive one”; in oth­er words, it came into being for the pro­tec­tion of remain­ing lands (quot­ed from Deringil, Ünlü 2014: 404). Deringil’s analy­sis does not mean that the Ottoman colo­nial prac­tices in Kur­dis­tan do not cor­re­spond to those of mod­ern col­o­niza­tion. Rather, it is pos­si­ble to see almost all moments of mod­ern col­o­niza­tion in the Ottoman pol­i­tics in Kur­dis­tan. If we take the European/Western (espe­cial­ly the French) mod­ern­iza­tion as the inspi­ra­tion for that of the Ottoman, it is noticed that the colo­nial appa­ra­tus­es based on the hege­mo­ny of the ratio­nal mind, pre­dictabil­i­ty, con­trol­la­bil­i­ty were employed in the Ottoman Kur­dis­tan. As in the French or the British colonies, the pop­u­la­tion liv­ing in the Ottoman Kur­dis­tan were defined rudi­men­ta­ry and the appa­ra­tus which was in fact colo­nial was jus­ti­fied as a “civ­i­liza­tion” project4. In mod­ern Turk­ish nation-state, too, the hege­mon­ic rela­tions in Kur­dis­tan (divid­ed into four now) have oper­at­ed, to a great extent, as the con­tin­u­a­tion of the Ottoman pol­i­tics. The peri­od between 1924–1938 which can be defined as the first peri­od of Kur­dish upris­ings against the Turk­ish nation-state is at the same time the peri­od when the state shaped the hege­mon­ic rela­tions in Kur­dis­tan. Both start­ing the last years of the Ottoman Empire and fol­low­ing the foun­da­tion of the Turk­ish nation-state, the under­stand­ing of hege­mo­ny in Kur­dis­tan made its pres­ence felt as the process of “both a per­pet­u­al inva­sion and the bina­ry colony/colonization in terms of dis­ci­plin­ing bod­ies-minds” (Ünlü, 2014: 408). In fact, accord­ing to Bezwan, as regards the fact that the state of emer­gency in Kur­dis­tan as a form of the repub­lic’s admin­is­tra­tion has become ordi­nary, a new “geo-eth­nic” form of admin­is­tra­tion has been estab­lished in Kur­dis­tan which is gov­erned with spe­cial gov­ern­ment appa­ra­tus­es (2015: 44). The states of emer­gency in Kur­dis­tan declared by the Turk­ish state are con­tin­u­ous though at inter­vals. The regime of the state of emer­gency start­ing with the Inspec­torates-Gen­er­al (1927–1952) con­tin­ued through such prac­tices as the OHAL region (1987–2002) (Bezwan, 2015). In respect there­of, in Bezwan’s words, we see the strat­e­gy of two state and two hege­monies devel­op. Assum­ing that the mod­ern colo­nial prac­tices (here, Kur­dis­tan is in the place of an inter­nal colony) and biopo­lit­i­cal prac­tices have hith­er­to coex­ist­ed togeth­er at the core of the state’s hege­mon­ic strate­gies, I want to put the empha­sis on the strat­e­gy for hege­mo­ny in the new period.

What I mean by the new peri­od is the indef­i­nite cur­fews and block­ade peri­od prac­ticed with­in the scope of these cur­fews. I am of the opin­ion that such con­cepts as “necro-pol­i­tics” and the mod­ern occu­pa­tion sug­gest­ed by Mbe­m­be to explain the new peri­od can be more explana­to­ry. The peri­od of block­ade in Kur­dis­tan goes far beyond the lim­its of this paper. One of the main rea­sons of this sit­u­a­tion is that, its effects con­tin­ue and, at the same time, the stud­ies over block­ade are insuf­fi­cient; and more impor­tant­ly, Turkey does not have the finan­cial pro­vi­sions to make stud­ies on this sub­ject (at least in the field). For this rea­son, in this sec­tion of the paper, I will try to dis­cuss the block­ades over the sig­nif­i­cant exam­ples sub­ject to pub­lic dis­cus­sions and the data tak­en from reports the civ­il rights orga­ni­za­tions and/or polit­i­cal par­ties pre­pared. Accord­ing to the report of Human Rights Foun­da­tion of Turkey (TİHV), with­in the peri­od between 16 August 2015 and 20 April 2016, at least 65 cur­fews were announced in at least 22 can­ters in Kur­dis­tan (2016). Accord­ing to the mutu­al data of Human Rights Asso­ci­a­tion (İHD) and TİHV, with­in this peri­od, 1425 died, 2583 were injured and more than 2 mil­lion peo­ple could not main­tain their dai­ly activ­i­ties. More­over, hun­dreds of thou­sand peo­ple were forced to migrate. Accord­ing to the find­ings of İHD and THİV, more than six thou­sand peo­ple were exposed to tor­ture or cru­el treat­ment5. In the government’s new form of hege­mo­ny gain­ing sig­nif­i­cance with the block­ades in Kur­dis­tan, states of exemp­tion and siege has become per­pet­u­al and, from now on, its bio-pol­i­tics upon the basis of get­ting the pop­u­la­tion under con­trol-dis­ci­pline has not got the pri­ma­ry impor­tance. In this new sit­u­a­tion, the under­ly­ing con­cept is “sub­ju­gat­ing life to the pow­er of death” with Mbembe’s quote. The per­pet­u­al siege and death have become the hege­mo­ny in and of itself. The hege­mo­ny over the extent of space has turned into the occu­pa­tion of space through destruc­tion; bio-politic inspec­tion over peo­ple has turned into the exter­mi­na­tion and appro­pri­a­tion of peo­ple. This new hege­mo­ny appa­ra­tus has turned into a mech­a­nism where bio-pol­i­tics and necro-pol­i­tics process at the same time with­out stop­ping. Still, the pow­er is not con­tent with its hege­mo­ny it estab­lish­es through death, and keeps tor­tur­ing the dead in the tra­di­tion­al line.

Tay­bet İnan (Moth­er Tay­bet) who was 57 and had 11 chil­dren was killed by the Turk­ish secu­ri­ty forces on Decem­ber 19th 2015 in Silopi, Şır­nak. Her dead body remained in the street for sev­en days and was buried after 23 days. Halit İnan, her hus­band, tells;

She turned to me, and I to her. She said ‘Don’t come, or they will shoot you, too.’ I said to her ‘I’ll throw you a rope; if you can grasp it, I’ll pull and save you.’ I came back home, got a rope, made a knot and threw at her. I asked ‘Did you get it?’ In this while, they opened fire and I imme­di­ate­ly found myself under fire. Sud­den­ly my hand got numbed. It was shot. Tay­bet asked ‘Did you get shot?’ and I said ‘No.’ She said, look­ing at me, “I’m cold and I am very thirsty.’ I was des­per­ate and did­n’t know what to do. There was a wire, and I was think­ing of throw­ing it at her when I heard Sabri scream­ing. I turned back when I heard the scream.”6

Although her fam­i­ly got in touch with the secu­ri­ty forces and health units more than once for tak­ing Tay­bet İnan’s dead body away, they got no result. The flex­i­bil­i­ty that can be found even in law of war for the ene­my to pick up their dead and their injured ones was not shown for a woman of 57 whose body lay in the street in Silopi. Accord­ing to what Mehmet İnan, her son, reports, they attempt­ed to take the dead body of his moth­er with “white flags” more than once, yet, when­ev­er they attempt­ed to go out with white flags, the forces opened fire at them. Mehmet İnan explains the tor­ture done to his moth­er with the exam­ple of Israel-Pales­tine: “The Israeli sol­diers let one be buried after they kill him or her, but here the state does not even let us take the dead, let alone bury­ing.”7 Mehmet İnan’s com­par­i­son is inter­est­ing in that as is report­ed in the lengthy quo­ta­tion above, Israel’s acute inva­sion of Pales­tine and the block­ades in Kur­dis­tan dra­mat­i­cal­ly resem­ble each oth­er. That the state keeps Tay­bet İnan’s dead body in the street for sev­en day and tries to shoot those who attempt to take the dead body with white flags means to “dis­ci­pline” the sur­vivors. This form of pow­er that kills and is not sat­is­fied with keep­ing the dead in the street oper­ates dur­ing the bur­ial process as well. Tay­bet İnan’s dead body could be buried after exact­ly 23 days and her eleven chil­dren were pre­vent­ed from attend­ing the funer­al. Dur­ing this peri­od, the Min­istry of Jus­tice made a change in med­ical reg­u­la­tions and decreed that when the dead, if iden­ti­fied, were not picked up in three days, they would be buried under the war­rant of local author­i­ties8. This way, the state, besides the pow­er over the right to live, got the right to rule over the dead and assert­ed its pow­er over funer­al cer­e­monies and mourn­ing, too.

Ali Bozan’s short film…
Please desactivate French subtitles to see English subtiles.

Anoth­er exam­ple of the tor­ture and ter­ror of the state towards the dead is the scene where a dead body was tied to the back of an armour-plat­ed vehi­cle and dragged in the streets. One oth­er exam­ple is that of ten-year old Cemile Çağır­ga who was killed by the Turk­ish secu­ri­ty forces while play­ing in the yard. Her moth­er tells how she had to keep her daugh­ter’s body in the deep­freeze so that the body would not smell, and she adds: “we are in despair and wait­ing for our turn to die. Let alone those who go out, they shoot who­ev­er stares out of the win­dow”9 The resem­blance between this acute block­ade and the colo­nial inva­sion is quite coin­ci­den­tal and life has come to the syn­onym for wait­ing for the turn to die. In anoth­er exam­ple, there is a female guer­ril­la fight­er of PKK (Kevs­er Ertürk/Ekin Van) who was killed in a con­flict in Var­to, Muş and whose naked dead body was pho­tographed and uploaded in social net­work sites. The dead body of Hacı Lok­man Bir­lik who killed by the Turk­ish sol­diers was tied behind an armored vehi­cle and dragged on the streets. His videos and pho­tographs uploaded in the social net­work sites.

In these exam­ples, it is clear that the state is not sat­is­fied with killing only, any­more, and the mes­sage con­veyed for the sur­vivors through the dead bod­ies is that they too can expe­ri­ence the same. In oth­er words, it is implied that there are no lim­its of the “pow­er” and the “cru­el­ty” of the state. The invad­ing state with its acute block­ade, as is stat­ed, does not find it enough to sub­ju­gate the world of the quick, and estab­lish­es hege­mo­ny over the world of the dead. In oth­er words, in this acute block­ade and inva­sion, the dis­tance between the quick and the dead has become vague and a ground for hege­mo­ny through the inter­twin­ing of life and death. The quick have been dehu­man­ized while the dead have come to be defined as “ the car­cass,” not the corpse. In Cizre, Şır­nak, that tens of peo­ple were mas­sa­cred in a base­ment of a block indi­cates that the state has come to a point in which it estab­lish­es hege­mo­ny only through death, employ­ing the prac­tices of mass killing. Accord­ing to the Cizre Report by the Peo­ple’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty (HDP), from three base­ments and ruins in the Cudi and Sur dis­tricts of Cizre, 177 dead bod­ies, 24 of whom were chil­dren, were revealed (HDP, 2016: 91). It has been report­ed that most of those who were killed in the base­ments had dis­sect­ed bod­ies, and more­over, it has been con­firmed by human rights orga­ni­za­tions and wit­ness­es that many corpses con­sist­ed of bones only. Şer­ife Duy­mak who lost her hus­band in one of the base­ments tells about the process of tak­ing her hus­band’s dead body as follows:

There were nei­ther bones nor flesh left from the dead body. They gave us one or two bones of coal-black colour in a trash bag. When we put the dead in a cof­fin and brought it back, at 2–3 police search points – the fam­i­lies were behind the funer­al coach- they shook the bones under our very eyes in case there was some­thing else in the bag. ‘Hey hewar e ji Xwedê!’ (Almighty Allah! Come to our aid!) they shook the cof­fin at each point. At each con­trol point, they made us wait for about half an hour. Even though we came in com­pa­ny with a panz­er and the cof­fin had already been con­trolled, they shook the bones again at the last search point and put their hands inside the cof­fin. They played the mehter march and “Ölürüm Türkiyem” [I’d die for Turkey]. They were howl­ing. The Police forces in the Cizre entrance only let one per­son for each funer­al. As our cousin’s house was close to the town cen­ter, we chose him to go with the funer­al. They took my husband’s body accom­pa­nied by mehter march­es. They released us after the funer­al was tak­en. Then, we went to my daughter’s house (HDP, 2016:147).

There are tens of oth­er sim­i­lar exam­ples that have been report­ed. It is also known that there are dead bod­ies of those killed that still can­not be found. In Şır­nak, the dis­sect­ed body parts revealed10 from the ruins near the riv­er Tigris show the mag­ni­tude of the power’s death system.


In an event of per­pet­u­al inva­sion and block­ade result­ing from colo­nial­ist and bio-polit­i­cal prac­tices, a state aims to cre­ate hege­mo­ny over space, time, mem­o­ry and body at the same time. This per­pet­u­al state of block­ade has become a topog­ra­phy of tor­ture. Solid­i­fied over death, the hege­mo­ny car­ries death to a fur­ther polit­i­cal point than itself. In this paper, the appli­ca­tion of this hege­mo­ny form with­in the aspect of pow­ers is dis­cussed; how­ev­er, anoth­er con­tra-pow­er form can show up in a sim­i­lar way, the body turn­ing into a polit­i­cal free­dom object, destroy­ing (sac­ri­fic­ing) itself, mov­ing itself to polit­i­cal agent’s posi­tion. As it is the case in Pales­tine, it seems pos­si­ble to men­tion a con­tra prac­tice turn­ing death into agency, into key of free­dom. In this sit­u­a­tion, death can find its place on a desired ground instead of being scar­ing and evad­ing. In this short paper, I tried to give a look to the government’s per­pet­u­al block­ade and inva­sion prac­tices in Kur­dis­tan over cer­tain sto­ries gain­ing a place (some­how becom­ing vis­i­ble) in the media due to the hor­ri­ble tor­tures they were exposed to. How­ev­er, in Kur­dis­tan, where death has become anony­mous, the dead, whose name is unknown, who has no grave, for whom a mourn­ing can­not be done and in this way, “not count­ed as exis­tent”, who does not gain a place in “the mourn­ing hier­ar­chy”, the ones who have their death in indef­i­nite sta­tis­ti­cal data and the ones whose life-death sta­tus unknown are still wait­ing for their sto­ry to be unfolded.

Tun­cay Şur
Doc­tor­al can­di­date in polit­i­cal sci­ence, EHESS, Paris, France


• Alpkaya, Gökçen (2016), Anayasa ve Yasalar Karşısında Ölü-Beden ve Ötekiler, Evrim C. İflazoğlu&A.Aslı Demir (der), Öteki Olarak Ölmek, Ankara: Dipnot Yayınları, 163 172.
• Bezwan, Naif (2015), Kuzey Kürdistan’da Devletin Değişen Savaş Stratejileri, A. Işık ve diğerleri (der), Doksanlarda Kürtler ve Kürdistan, içinde, İstanbul: Bilgi Üniversitesi Yayınları, 43–48.
• Biko, Steve (2014), Siyah Bilinci, çev, Barış Ünlü, Ankara: Dipnot Yayınları.
• Fanon, Frantz (2013), Yeryüzünün Lanetlileri, çev, Şen Süer, İstanbul: Versus Yayınları.
• Mbenme, Achille (2016), Nekro Siyaset, çev, Abdurrahman Aydın, Evrim C. İflazoğlu&A.Aslı Demir (der), Öteki Olarak Ölmek, Ankara: Dipnot Yayınları, 223–270.
• Ünlü, Barış (2014), Kürdistan/Türkiye ve Cezayir/Fransa: Sömürge Yönetimleri, Şiddet ve Entelektüeller, G.Çeğin&İ. Şirin (der), Türkiye’de Siyasal Şiddetin Boyutları içinde, İstanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 403–434.
• HDP, (2016). The Cize Report, April, 17, Ankara.
1 ‘Black’ bairam in the house of Mother Taybet of whose body remained on the ground for 7 days (T24) (Access: 10.08.2017).
2 Throughout the curfews, according to the data of Human Rights Association (İHD) and Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV), 1425 ceased, 2583 injured, (Evrensel)(Access: 10.08.2017).
3 For a comparison between Algeria/France and Kurdistan/Turkey, see also; Ünlü, 2014.
4 The colonization of Kurdistan by the Ottoman Empire corresponds the same period with the colonization of Algeria by France. For the evaluation of the similarities between these two examples, see also; (Ünlü 2014: 408–421).
5 The result of curfews: 1425 ceased, 2583 injured, (Evrensel(Access: 10.08.2017).
6 ‘Black’ bairam in the house of Mother Taybet of whose body remained on the ground for 7 days (T24) (Access: 10.08.2017).
7 Taybet İnan’s dead body were in street for 4 days, those who tried to take her body were shot (Evrensel), (Access: 14.08.2017).
8 The Ministry has found the solution: the governers will bury the dead (Diken(Access: 14.08.2017).
9 A message from the mother of Cemile whose body stayed in a freezer; Give your blessings (Diken) (Access: 15.08.2017).
10 Human body parts thrown to the Dicle River were found (Evrensel) (Access: 16.08.2017).

Fea­tured image: Sara A. de Ceano-Vivas Núñez | Qamish­lo, 18 de Mayo del 2017

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