Chain of mistakes led to Uludere deaths: MP

Chain of mistakes led to Uludere deaths: MP

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Chain of mistakes led to Uludere deaths: MP

Relatives carry the photographs of 34 villagers killed in a botched air raid in Uludere. The villagers killed in the raid were reportedly smuggling oil from Iraq. DHA photo

The head of the sub-commission of Parliament’s Human Rights Inquiry Commission assigned to examine the controversy surrounding the Uludere tragedy, has reportedly indicated for the first time yesterday that the General Staff might be responsible for the killings of 34 civilians.

“There was no [ill] intent; there was a chain of mistakes. The General Staff might have given the order. The General Staff didn’t share all the documents [with the commission],” AKP Ordu deputy İhsan Şener was quoted as saying by NTV news channel.

Şener’s statement, which contradicts his earlier statements on the issue, came only two days before the first anniversary of the Uludere tragedy.

“We’re not in a position to make up fantasies like ‘Ahmet was guilty, Mehmet pulled the trigger, Hüseyin shot and Ali misread the intelligence,’” Şener had said in early December.

The Uludere tragedy refers to the mistaken killing of 34 civilian Kurdish villagers who were smuggling oil from Iraq in an air raid by Turkish jets on Dec. 28, 2011, along the Turkish-Iraqi border.

The sub-commission was formed in January 2012 to examine the incident, request information and documents from the General Staff, the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and the ministries of defense, interior and justice, while also conducting visits to the region.

The draft report prepared upon these examinations has been finalized, but its release was postponed to January in order to avoid any political exploitation of the report on the anniversary of the killings, NTV reported. The report includes several chapters on smuggling, governing weaknesses and a chain of mistakes.

Keeping documents secret

“An order or strategy specific to Uludere is out of the question. There may be an order from the General Staff Operation Department. We don’t believe that the General Staff shared all reports and documents [with us],” NTV quoted the draft report as saying.

Yet Ayhan Sefer Üstün, the head of Parliament’s Human Rights Inquiry Commission, denied the presence of a draft report in statements made to Anatolia news agency following NTV’s report. Üstün said he spoke to Şener and Şener told him that he didn’t deliver such a statement.

However, there had been no direct statement from Şener himself yesterday when Hürriyet Daily News went to print.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu argued yesterday that the government was intending to leave this incident to oblivion.

“Who has the authority to conduct cross-border operations? Parliament. This authority was given to the government by Parliament,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, adding that no matter who pushed the button, the government was responsible for the killings.

The issue is being closely followed by the international community as well.