Locals of Uludere ask state not to stop commemoration

Locals of Uludere ask state not to stop commemoration

ULUDERE - Hürriyet Daily News
Locals of Uludere ask state not to stop commemoration

Members of a Republican People’s Party (CHP) delegation visitng Uludere pray by the graves of 34 villagers who were killed last year in a botched air raid by the Turkish Air Forces. DHA photo

“Look at them, do they look like terrorists?” asked Türkan Uysal and Medire Irek yesterday, holding pictures of their sons, one of them wearing a high school uniform, both killed in an air raid by the Turkish Armed Forces last year in Uludere, near the southeastern province of Şırnak.

Today, the locals in Uludere, or Roboski in its original Kurdish name, will be commemorating their lost ones, 34 civilian smugglers returning to their homes from the Iraqi border.

Two recent stories seem to have sent shockwaves through the villagers. The first one was Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statement only three days ago in a televised interview that, “It is still not clear whether [those killed] were civilians,” implying the victims might have been linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The second were rumors that upcoming commemorations for the incident, mainly organized by the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), might face interference.

“If there will be obstructions, that will only aggravate the suffering of the families,” said Ferhat Encü, a member of the family with the highest number of victims in the incident.

“It seems that the government wants to close the issue by trying to prove some links [in regards to] the victims,” said Levent Gök, a member of Parliament from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP). Gök, who is also a member of the parliamentary commission inquiring into the incident, recalled that the commission was originally scheduled to finish its report by March 15, roughly two-and-a-half months after the bombing. “The commission under the ruling party has lost all its credibility,” he said, adding that the CHP will make its own report public in the coming days.

Visit to the relatives

The main opposition chose to show solidarity with the victims of Uludere by paying a visit to the district a day before the first anniversary of what every local here calls “the Roboski slaughter.”

“Look at this; he was only born in 1998. And the prime minister calls them terrorists,” said Gülseren Onanç, the only female member of the CHP delegation, in front of the grave of Muhammed Encü. “It is incomprehensible,” Onanç said of the obstruction efforts. “What’s wrong with commemorating it, what would the ruling party loose by sharing their pain?”

The CHP delegation, which was headed by two deputy leaders – Onanç and Sezgin Tanrıkulu – first visited the village yesterday, followed by the cemetery.

“Roboski is a matter of justice. A total blindness of consciousness is continuing here,” said Tanrıkulu.
“This happened to us because we are Kurdish,” said Azime Encü. “We want peace but we also want those responsible to be brought to justice.”