Gov’t ‘seeks ways to legitimize massacre’

Gov’t ‘seeks ways to legitimize massacre’

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Gov’t ‘seeks ways to legitimize massacre’

The government is deliberately maintaining the debate over whether the victims are civilians or not, according to Ferhat Encü, who lost relatives in the raid.

Despite the passage of one year since 34 civilians were killed in a botched air raid near the Turkish-Iraqi border, the government is still trying to find ways to legitimize the “massacre,” according to Ferhat Encü, who lost his 17-year-old brother along with many other relatives in the attack.

“We have no doubt that the Chief of the General Staff and the Air Force Commander are responsible for the attack. But the government had better not try to misdirect people; there should be another dimension regarding the responsibility. If the government is the party who gave instructions for the attack, then they should assume the political responsibility. Accusing the military cannot acquit them,” Encü told the Hürriyet Daily News on Dec. 26.

Encü was commenting on the latest remarks from the head of the sub-commission of Parliament’s Human Rights Inquiry Commission, assigned to examine the controversy surrounding the Uludere tragedy, who reportedly indicated for the first time on Dec. 26 that the General Staff might be responsible for the killing 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],” ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Ordu deputy İhsan Şener was quoted as saying Dec. 26.

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

Ruling party officials are gauging public reaction with every statement, Encü said. “When they spoke about fantasies, the public outcry was furious. And this time, they are trying to soothe reactions by suggesting that the military was responsible.”

Identity of victims

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, speaking in a televised interview on Dec. 21, said it was not clear whether those who died in the Uludere tragedy were civilians or not.

“We say ‘civilians’ [when talking about those who died in Uludere]. But a member of a terrorist organization can be a civilian, too. Terrorists can appear to be civilians, we have to see this,” Erdoğan said, suggesting that the outcome of the legal probe should be awaited for concrete results.

Encü said the government was deliberately maintaining the debate over whether the victims were civilians or not.

“They have intelligence reports, they have footage of Herons. The autopsy reports are very clear. But they are maintaining this debate on purpose. They are trying to legitimize the massacre with this debate,” he said.