No approval for Şahin, but debate over, premier says

No approval for Şahin, but debate over, premier says

Metehan Demir ASTANA / Hürriyet
No approval for Şahin, but debate over, premier says

Daily News Photo / Selahattin Sönmez

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan offered no support yesterday for Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin’s contentious comments on last year’s Uludere raid but said debate over the incident should end.
“[I am] ending the debate for good,” Erdoğan told reporters in Astana.

“I do not approve of my friends talking about the issue,” he said, referring to the recent remarks on the Uludere raid by Şahin and Hüseyin Çelik, the deputy leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

“If we continue to talk about the issue, it will be in the newspapers and on television, and make the victims’ families sad,” the prime minister said. “The issue is being investigated by the administrative and legal authorities, and they will find out what really happened. The authorities have received the necessary documents [on the raid], and the General Staff and the Justice Ministry are following the ongoing process.”

The air raid, which occurred in the southeastern province of Şırnak’s Uludere district on Dec. 28, 2011, was supposed to strike outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants, but resulted instead in the deaths of 34 smugglers transporting small goods from northern Iraq.

Speaking May 23, Şahin said the villagers killed in the attack were mere “extras” in a broader ploy “orchestrated entirely” by the PKK, adding there was no reason for an apology over the deaths. His remarks stirred criticism, including from AKP deputy leader Çelik.

“The terror organization always likes to be promoted, we will not do that,” Erdoğan said, adding that the PKK could benefit from the ongoing public debate.

In further remarks, Erdoğan slammed the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) for their demand to talk about the condition of Abdullah Öcalan, the PKK’s imprisoned leader. “There is no possibility that we will allow the [BDP lawmakers] visit Öcalan, this is pure speculation,” he said.