Families of Uludere victims demand Turkish colonel’s ‘secret’ testimony

Families of Uludere victims demand Turkish colonel’s ‘secret’ testimony

Families of Uludere victims demand Turkish colonel’s ‘secret’ testimony

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Families of the victims of 2011 Uludere (Roboski) air strike massacre have demanded that retired Col. Aygün Eker provide testimony in the case after the soldier said he had warned his superiors that the targets were civilians, not outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) members.

Tahir Elçi, a lawyer for the victims’ families, told Hürriyet that Eker’s testimony, which was reported by daily Milliyet on Feb. 16, could change the fate of the lawsuit.

“With this statement, it became obvious that the right to live was violated in Uludere,” he said.
“We will demand from the military prosecutor’s office to hand us this file, which has seen a confidentiality order. We will submit Col. Eker’s testimony to the Constitutional Court,” he said.

The massacre took place Dec. 28, 2011, when the Turkish army carried out air strikes in the village of Ortasu (Roboski in Kurdish), near the Turkish-Iraqi border, killing 34 people, most of whom were children and youth.

The general staff’s prosecutor’s office in January 2014 dismissed the investigation into the massacre, saying in its ruling military officers had made an “inevitable” mistake while performing their duty. 
The families applied to the Constitution Court in June 2014. Milliyet reported Feb. 16 that Eker’s testimony was not included in an army filing to the court.

Milliyet reported Jan. 17 that military minutes of the attack day proved that soldiers raised questions that the group entering Turkey via Iraq might be smugglers, matching Eker’s remarks. The paper printed the quotes from the minutes, which largely consist of phone calls between military offices. 

Eker, who was a military intelligence officer at the time and was in a group that evaluated the unmanned aerial vehicle footage of the group, said his superior, Brig. Gen. Halil Erkek, agreed with his conclusion but that Corps Cmdr. Yıldırım Güvenç said the men were PKK members, ordering artillery fire.

They concluded that the PKK was active in the region and that the group might be acting under the knowledge of the PKK and might also include some of its members, Eker said.

Sezgin Tanrıkulu, a deputy leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), asked Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in a parliamentary question why Eker’s testimony was disregarded. “Was the real aim of this operation to send a message to the people in the region?” he asked.