Debate rages over unpaid compensation to Mavi Marmara victims’ families
Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Compensation worth $20 million provided by Israel over the killing of Turkish activists onboard the Mavi Marmara ship in May 2010 has yet to be paid to the victims, triggering angry debate and criticism of the Turkish government.
The Finance Ministry has claimed that the government is still seeking consensus with the families on the amount of compensation because they have all demanded varying amounts of money.
The ministry vowed on June 9 to make the payment quickly after discussions with the families to take place soon, in response to claims by the Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (İHH) group that the government is refusing paying the money to the victims.
“The general views of the families should be taken into consultation and eventually a joint solution should be reached,” read the ministry’s statement.
In a case opened by the unpaid families of the Mavi Marmara victims, the Finance Ministry had previously sent a statement to the court in which it “rejected the exorbitant amount of material and moral compensation asked by the plaintiff.”
The ministry’s statement to the court, seen by the Hürriyet Daily News, says the victims “should have foreseen that they may be subject to such an attack because the problems between the Israeli state and Gaza are well-known.”
“They took the risk of any attack or intervention. These elements should be considered when determining the amount of compensation to be paid,” added the ministry’s petition, saying experts should determine the amount of moral and psychological compensation to be paid.
After uproar ensued over the continued failure to pay the victims, the Finance Ministry acknowledged that the “the answers and explanations related to the defense were prepared as a result of a legal judgment, but unintentionally produced excessive and misleading meanings.”
“As a ministry, we can never aim to upset or offend the families of citizens who lost their lives,” it said.
Diplomatic ties between Turkey and Israel collapsed in May 2010 when Israeli commandos killed 10 Turkish activists on the Mavi Marmara, which was headed for Gaza in a bid to break the Israeli blockade.
In the aftermath of the May 2010 incident on the Mavi Marmara, Turkey demanded an official apology from Israel, compensation for the families of those killed, and the lifting of the blockade. The Turkish Parliament later approved a deal that involved Tel Aviv paying $20 million to the families of the victims as part of a normalization agreement between Turkey and Israel after a six-year hiatus in ties.
Israel subsequently delivered the money to the Turkish government, but it has still not been paid to the families of Mavi Marmara victims.