World Children’s Day: Being a Kurdish child in Turkey means detainment and prison

World Children’s Day is 20 November, a time to reflect on the abuse of children’s rights in Turkey and around the world. According to reports prepared by civil society organisations, children’s rights violations have been increasing each year in Turkey. The Human Rights Association’s (İHD) data from April 2018, 2,491 children in prison.

For instance, according to the Human Rights Association’s (İHD) data from April 2018, the number of children in prison between the ages of 12 and 17 is 2,491. Of that number, 1,719 were under arrest and 772 were convicted. According to some other data, 800 children up to the age of six are staying in prisons in Turkey with their mothers.

Cotkar Amara Yürek (19) was among these children. He was detained 12 times between the ages of seven and 19 and was also arrested once, on the charge of “being a member of a terrorist organisation”, when he was only 17. He was released one year later. He spoke to the Mesopotamia News Agency about his experiences.

“It was very brutal to experience the house raids while sleeping, and to be sent to prison at that age”, he said. “Your family are around you and they support you so that you realise that you are not alone. Still, when you are arrested you feel different. You live in an atmosphere of fear, you are constantly worried about what will happen in the places you will be taken to. I saw other children in the prison and they were also afraid”.

Yürek thinks that children should never be arrested. “I changed a lot after that experience”, he said. “These incidents cause trauma in a child’s soul. There are violations of human rights and children’s rights in our region that are seen as normal. Some children were murdered in Cizre and Sur. These murders are always in our minds and are linked to what we experienced”.