POLITICS > Military took needed steps in Uludere: Turkish PM

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PM Erdoğan defends the military for its fatal raid in Uludere last year that killed 34 civilians, saying the forces took the ‘necessary step’

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Tayfun, the 8-year-old son of police officer Akın Bayram, who was killed during clashes between security forces and suspected
PKK militants in southeastern province of Diyarbakır’s Kulp district, sits next to his father’s coffin during the funeral. DHA Photo

Tayfun, the 8-year-old son of police officer Akın Bayram, who was killed during clashes between security forces and suspected PKK militants in southeastern province of Diyarbakır’s Kulp district, sits next to his father’s coffin during the funeral. DHA Photo

Turkey’s military did what needed to be done when it launched a botched air raid that killed 34 villagers along the Iraqi border in December 2011, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said yesterday.

“Our Armed Forces took the necessary step. That region is a terror region,” he told reporters accompanying him on a trip to Pakistan.

Erdoğan said he personally watched video footage of the incident recorded by a Turkish military drone. “I saw movement in the CD I watched; [it was] a convoy of 30-40 people on their way,” Erdoğan said. “It is impossible to see from that height. It is not a region in which civilians reside. In such an area, the Armed Forces cannot know if it is Ahmet or Mehmet.”

The prime minister also said he learned of the operation immediately after it ended.

The government has delegated authorization to the military to conduct cross-border strikes against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and that the jets conducted the operation within the scope of that authorization. “We gave authorization to the military and they used it. If we are not going to trust our army or our police, how are we going to carry out the struggle against terrorism?”

Political squabbles over the raid in the southeastern province of Şırnak’s Uludere district on Dec. 28, 2011, were rekindled by a Wall Street Journal report which claimed footage from a U.S. Predator drone was also made available to the military ahead of the strike, which was intended to strike PKK militants but resulted instead in the deaths of 34 smugglers transporting small goods from northern Iraq.

“The Armed Forces carried out their duty without any ill intentions. We’ve accepted it was a mistake, and we’ve announced an apology and compensation. But some people are trying to manipulate the issue. Are we supposed to say exactly what the terrorist organization [PKK] wants to hear? I’m sorry, we cannot do that,” he said.

Erdoğan insisted that the WSJ report had a covert motive targeting the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama ahead of November’s presidential elections.

The authorities have yet to explain who gave the go-ahead for the strike and how the military concluded that the group moving along the border was in fact a group of PKK militants.


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mara mcglothin

5/24/2012 4:27:44 PM

DARIO I completely agree with your last statement. Maybe you can explain to my idiot American mentality why parents allow their grown children to continue to live in an area where they have no future? Why don't these boys(like many Turkish citizens of Kurdish decent before them) get the hell out and find legal employment. Some do? Some don't? Why? I am not "Immorally" defending anything. Regardless of how many years this practice has been going on does NOT make it right!

dario Kurd

5/23/2012 6:49:07 PM

mara mcglothin ur immorally defending killings of civilians . people who are poor and have no job and rely on smuggling basic needs to make a living shouldnot be punished to death...

ismail demir

5/23/2012 6:38:18 PM

Last ten years less than 50 kurdish civilians dead along with 1380 armed pkk militants.Turkey already has highest terorist ratio per civilian when we compare with israel and US.If Turkey apologies western media will use this against Turkey by manipulating events.These people not killed in wedding as in afganistan, they were killed by passing pkk teritory by giving them money.

dario Kurd

5/23/2012 6:27:34 PM

mara mcglothin many Kurds who live in these area have families from both side of the border. Turkey over years have ignored Kurdish areas (long before establishment of PKK) this left the people of the region with no work forced to try to make a small profit from good smuggling..this practice has been around for 100s years and no governments has every managed or will manage to control. in short Erdogan commited a crime ..Kurds refused his componsation and want justice.

mara mcglothin

5/23/2012 5:15:05 PM

DARIO There is a huge difference in the death of"these" civilians who were smuggling, and the acts of the PKK to kill completely innocent civilians who are vacationing or were unlucky enough to be standing on a public street corner when some crazy decides to blow it up. Big difference Huge! Don't get it twisted.

mara mcglothin

5/23/2012 3:50:44 PM

DARIO They were not "working" in these areas!!! They were committing illegal smuggling acts!!!! Very sad to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but it is what it is. When you commit criminal behavior, you take some risks and it is very sad for these young men, and their families, BUT no apologies or compensation is due or required.

Uri Zakay

5/23/2012 2:36:42 PM

Dear Erol. Can you please quote the Turkish government apology and give the sum of the provided compensation to each of the families. May be that such apology will convince the people of Israel.

american american

5/23/2012 1:25:01 PM

erol, there are some other differences as well. israeli soldiers were put in harm's way. there were skirmishes and some soldiers were injured. if israel and just torpedoed the ship, then we could compare...

dario Kurd

5/23/2012 12:51:38 PM

By the same token PKK can start attacking Turkish forces everywhere and in case of civilian casualties can say took needed steps to fight occupiers!! It is a duty of care of any responsible government to differentiate between civilians and military. Mr Erdogan has to offer these people an alternative jobs before asking them to stop working in these areas..if Erdogan was a civilised western prime minister he would have been kicked out by his own party members before parliament’s impeachment.

Erol Asim

5/23/2012 11:45:18 AM

Uri: Correct me if I'm wrong, but the difference is, with the Mavi Marmara incident, there was no apology or compensation to the families from the Israeli government. Whereas with the Uludere incident, the Turkish government has apologized and provided compensation to the families.
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