Sheer murder or national defense?

Sheer murder or national defense?

Social media has become a very helpful platform of information. Naturally, not all “news” shared on social media is trustworthy, but one should judge reliability of what is being reported taking into consideration who reported it.

Hasip Kaplan, the most talkative and indeed arrogant deputy from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), or the political wing of the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), was the first to report and break the silence of the print and audiovisual media over the alleged aerial bombing by the Turkish military of a group of smugglers that killed scores and wounded many.

Kaplan and the ethnic Kurdish political campaigners, as well as the PKK, immediately started trying to present the development in Şırnak province’s Uludere town near the border with Iraq as a “genocidal attempt” that “implied” the danger of a “looming Kurdish genocide” in Turkey.

The “nationalists” on the other hand immediately started claiming that most probably the group attacked was coming back from northern Iraq, where they went illegally – and not just for “innocent” smuggling purposes. How could smuggling be “innocent,” I have no capability of understanding, but obviously people sharing such views believed engaging in PKK’s separatist terrorist activities is a bigger crime than smuggling. In a country where you have terrorists, lesser terrorists and parliamentarians with judicial immunity, life-time free health services and lucrative pensions, it is perhaps normal to have crimes and lesser crimes.

Irrespective of how it happened and who those “villagers” indeed were, if the armed forces of a state attack and bombard a group of civilians with heavy weapons, killing scores of them, a thorough examination must be conducted, and the results of the probe must be shared with the public. Otherwise, how will Turkey’s deficient democratic governance be any different from the sheer autocratic dictatorships of all sorts in this wild neighborhood?

“Ifs and buts” should not be used in this framework. The villagers were smugglers. Even Kaplan and the entire PKK political network have been confessing that. Most probably those villagers were contractors of the PKK or at least sharing the revenue from smuggling with the gang. It’s no secret to anyone aware of terrorism financing that all kinds of smuggling, including human trafficking, have been vitally important for all gangs, the PKK included. No one can question the Turkish military or border security for taking action against smugglers and even opening fire on them.

Yet, all this being said; no military on this earth can, in trying to prevent smugglers, have the right to exterminate them through heavy bombing by F-16 jets. The military not only confirmed the incident yesterday, but also announced that an investigation was launched into it. 

Interesting enough, from the military’s statement we learned what was claimed by Kaplan and Kurdish activists as “sheer murder” or a “genocidal attempt” was perhaps the result of an operation “inside” northern Iraq, “close” to a PKK camp in the area. It was carried out with credible information obtained that a large group of terrorists were heading toward Turkish territory to ambush border posts. That is, all that happened might be the result of a “national defense” initiative.

Bashing the military has become a favorite sport for some in Turkey, but it might be wiser to examine what indeed has happened and wait for the outcome of the official inquiry before taking a shortcut and concluding that there was an excessive use of force.

After all, this country is not an “Arab Spring” place.