Families of Uludere victims protest inquiry commission’s inefficiency

Families of Uludere victims protest inquiry commission’s inefficiency

ULUDERE – Doğan News Agency
Families of Uludere victims protest inquiry commission’s inefficiency

Families gathered at the graves of the victims of the air raid. DHA photo

The families of the 34 civilians killed in the Uludere air raid protested today the parliamentary inquiry’s work to shed light on the incident. Families gathered at the graves of their deceased relatives to criticize the parliamentary subcommittee, claiming its main goal was to “divert” public attention away from the incident. In protest victims’ relatives held banners that read “The time of honesty has come. No peace without the responsible of the massacre.”

The committee postponed the release of its final report this week after the Turkish press reported the document did not find any military or civilian authority to be the responsible party behind the Uludere incident. The Uludere incident refers to the death of 34 civilian Kurdish villagers in an air strike on Dec. 28, 2011, when they were allegedly mistaken for PKK militants as they smuggled oil as well as other goods such as sugar and tea from northern Iraq into Turkey.

Veli Encü, brother of one of the victims, emphasized that they had been seeking justice for 61 weeks. “The report prepared by the parliament subcommittee is based on two grounds: First, to buy time for the government by appeasing the anger of the victims’ families and secondly, to buy time for the prosecutors and security forces so they can fabricate manipulated evidences,” he said. 

Immediately after the air strike the Turkish military said the civilians were mistaken for members of the outlawed Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK). However, experts later argued that images of the group taken by unmanned aerial vehicles, known as Herons, would have made it impossible to mistake the villagers for militants. Authorities then stated it had been “a coordination error” between intelligence units and security forces.

Encü said they had lost hope the report would state something new. “They will prepare everything as it suits them, then repeat what they have said all along. ‘There were PKK militants’ they will say. ‘[It was] an innocent chain of errors,’ they will say While the Turkish General Staff does not reveal any document. They will say that they did not find who did it,” he said.

The head of the inquiry commission, İlhan Şener, argued last week that it was not possible to find who ordered the attack. “Who gave the order of attack? This was not our business. There is no possibility to reach such a conclusion out of the documents we accessed. We cannot claim to know everything [about the incident]; maybe we do not,” Şener said.