Turkey, through a new executive order, has decide to hire more than 25,000 village guards in its eastern and southeastern districts.
After the 18,066 village guards, aged between 45 and 50, are retired, the same number of village guards will be hired. In addition, 7,250 more people will be taken into the taskforce. In total, there will be 54,760 village guards, working for the Turkish state. With the new decision, Turkey aims to lower the average age among village guards from 42 to 31.
The village guards have been working effectively in the eastern and southeastern part of the country. They were targeted by the PKK in rural areas.
They are locals in eastern and southeastern provinces that are armed by the Turkish State to ensure security.A PKK terrorist attack killed three village guards and injured two others in September last year in southeastern Hakkari province. Also in September, three soldiers, three village guards and a woman were injured when a group of PKK terrorists attacked a military post in Mardin’s Dargeçit district.
The pro-PKK Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) also threatened village guards. Burcu Çelik, a HDP deputy, in the summer of 2015, said, “You [village guards] will be cleared out of this country. We know very well how to redirect the Kalashnikovs you point at us.”
After the PKK ramped up its attacks against politicians last year, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu told the village guards “We will give a gun license to those politicians, even the provincial heads, in the region. We will also assign the village guards as security, if needed.”
On Oct. 9 last year, the PKK assassinated Aydın Muştu, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) district deputy head in the eastern province of Van. Muştu’s assassination was followed by the assassination of AK Party Dicle district head Deryan Aktert in the southeastern Diyarbakır province on Oct. 10. Soylu further vowed to make village guards safer and securer, adding that the matter has been taken to Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım.