Daughter of Hurmüz Diril: The seasons have changed but we are still searching for our father

Gazete Karinca (7 November 2020) – Marta Sömek interviews Mrs. Gülcan Diril-Üzümcü, daughter of the Syriac Chaldean couple Shmuni and Hurmüz (71) Diril, about the kidnapping and murder case of her parents. Shmuni Diril was kidnapped together with her husband Hurmüz on January 8. Shmuni Diril’s body was found after 70 days in a stream near their Syriac Chaldean village of Mehre (Turkish: Kovankaya), Beytüşşebap district in Şırnak Province. Hurmüz Diril has not been heard from since that fatal day.

And no information can be obtained about the progress of the murder and kidnapping investigation by the Beytüşşebap Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office because the case is designated “confidential”.

About the fate of her parents Gülcan Diril­-Üzümcü says: “Everyone who saw or knows but keeps silent is partner in crime in this murder” and emphasizes that “there is one thing very clear to us, we want our father back”.

Marta Sömek: Could you tell us about your parents Shmuni and Hurmüz Diril? About their village? What would your parents do there?

My father, who had been forced to emigrate many times, lived for years in the hope he would be able to return to his land. That is why he never wished to emigrate to Europe. He always said that nowhere in the world would it be like as in his village. My parents applied for the necessary permits as soon as my father retired and, in 2011, he rebuilt their old and ruined house together with my mother. They spent the whole summer up there.

In 2015, with his strong belief in the peace process [between the Turkish state and the Kurdistan Workers Party – PKK], he built a new house in Kovankaya with his savings to improve their living standard.

They wanted to live a natural organic life in our village between four mountains. My father and mother did not knew of tiredness. They would always find things to do, something to repair, build, fix. They devoted their lives to us, their children. Even though they believed it was time to devote time to themselves, they were working for us until the last moment.

Gülcan Diril-Üzümcü with her mother and father

Could you tell us about the first time when you and did not hear from your parents?

My mother would call my brother every morning to check whether he had taken his medication. The last conversation with my mother was on the evening of January 7. As of January 8, we stopped receiving phone calls from my mother, and we couldn’t reach them anymore.

My brother Remzi Diril, who went to visit my mother and father in the village with two relatives from France on Sunday, January 12, was shocked by the fact that my mother and father were not at home. Our parents would never go somewhere outside the village without telling us. Also, no matter how urgent, they did not have the luxury of going anywhere as they had their livestock to attend to in the village. It needs feeding and taken care of.

The first thought that occurred to me… and perhaps this also goes for all of my brothers and sisters… but we could not put it into words, we did not want to think of or believe in that horrible scenario.

According to the statements of our relative and eyewitness, Apro Diril, the fate of our parents was that they were taken by three PKK members. He said that we should not notify anyone, and they would be released within three days. He said sarcastically that if they had already been released, they might have been eaten by bears and wolves.

Because of Apro Diril’s unreliable statements and sarcastic behavior, the gendarmerie was immediately informed. Although our relationship with Apro was strained and disconnected, we thought he would not lie to us on such a matter of life and death. At the same time, we were worried about their lives.

The gendarmerie arrived in the village three days after we reported my parents missing. Searches were made in the near surroundings of the house without any results. The gendarmerie made no further searches under the pretext of bad weather conditions. Then we found our mother and we knew it was murder.

Apro Diril stated that our parents were taken away by PKK members, but our mother’s body was found approximately 800 meters from the house and traces of bullets were found on our mother’s body. Mehre is a mountainous place where gunfire is impossible to be heard for outside. With all his contradictory statements, Apro Diril is for us the primary suspect to come to our mind.

While the search continues, your brother found your mother’s lifeless body, were you able to see the forensic report? Has the perpetrator of your mother been found?

Our mother’s forensic report came out about a month ago [October], but the final report is not finished. In order for the perpetrators to be found and the fate of our father to be determined, Apro Diril, family members who supported him, and relatives who previously threatened our family should come forward with the facts as soon as possible. Everyone who saw or knows but keeps silent is partner in crime in this murder.

Your siblings also stated that there were contradictions in their talks with your relative Apro Diril. And that clearing the contradictions, is in the hands of the only witness to the incident, Apro Diril. What would you say about this?

I agree with what my siblings say. There is nothing tangible in what Apro has said. All his comments and statements are contradicting. By stalling and misleading from the beginning, he has gained enough time for himself and the killers.

Partnership in this murder needs to be questioned and investigated. Although Apro Diril states that he is scared and threatened every time, this is not very credible. We received news that he traveled from village to village and lived quite comfortably. All he tells is lies.

Is there any development in the investigation into the search for Hurmüz Diril? What is the latest situation?

When we inquire about the latest situation regarding the searches made for my father, we are told that the searches continue. Although we have repeatedly requested an effective and comprehensive search with cadaver dogs, we have not been able to get any support or approval for this request. The seasons have changed but we are still searching for our father.

Believing that they are doing their own proper search work, we hope to be given concrete information. For sure, somebody will have to be held legally responsible for the fact our father has not been found after all this time. Human life is not that cheap, nor should it be.

If there is one thing very clear to us, it is that we want our father back. We want Hurmüz Diril back, our merciful father, a caring man who helped everyone, who does not hold grudges against anyone, and who gives life to these lands in order to make his village livable again!

Lost and government policy

Mehre or Kovankaya village, where the couple Hurmüz and Shmuni Diril lived, was militarily evacuated by the Turkish state in 1989. In 1992, four Syriac Chaldean families resettled in the village, but in 1994 the village was evacuated again.

The grandchildren of Shmuni Diril’s uncle are also gone missing since 1994. In 1994, 12-year-old İlyas Diril and 16-year-old Zeki Diril were taken into police custody. They have not been heard of since they were taken into police custody.

The investigation initiated for both children resulted in no one being prosecuted. Zeki Diril’s family therefore applied to the European Court of Human Rights. The European Court of Human Rights judged the Turkish state to be responsible for Zeki Diril’s disappearance and condemned the Turkish state in the case.

Disclaimer: Translated form the original Turkish. Originally published on November 7, 2020, by Gazete Karinca.