Top leaders accused of crimes against humanity for Uludere

Top leaders accused of crimes against humanity for Uludere

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Top leaders accused of crimes against humanity for Uludere

Selvi Kılıçdaroğlu (R), the wife of main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, prays in front of the graves of the Uludere raid vicitims during her visit to the victims’ families on May 13, Mother’s Day. DHA photo

Main opposition deputy Mahmut Tanal has filed a criminal complaint against President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel over the botched air raid that killed 34 civilians in Uludere last year, claiming that they had committed a crime against humanity.

Tanal, a member of Parliament’s Human Rights Commission for the Republican People’s Party (CHP), argued that the raid on Dec. 28, 2011 was launched deliberately, despite the fact that military officials were aware that the people seen in drone images were not members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants, but smugglers.

“All military commands are carried out in a chain. The chief of the General Staff is at the top of this chain and he takes consent from the prime minister. For this reason, the chief of the General Staff and the prime minister are responsible for this massacre. All allegations should be examined and those who are found guilty should be charged,” Tanal said in his complaint, which he filed at an Ankara court yesterday.

Noting that the president is the army’s commander-in-chief under the constitution, Tanal claimed that Gül also bore responsibility for the strike. The U.S. officials who provided intelligence ahead of the raid, as well as Turkish military and civilian officials who supplied intelligence and issued the order for the raid should also be prosecuted, he said.

Source of intelligence
CHP deputy group chair Emine Ülker Tarhan, for her part, dismissed the controversy on the source of the intelligence as “a government effort to cover up its responsibility” for the 34 deaths. The row was fanned last week by a report in The Wall Street Journal quoting Pentagon officials as saying that images from a U.S. Predator were also made available to the Turkish army ahead of the strike. Erdoğan has dismissed the report as a “fabrication” aimed at tarnishing the U.S. administration ahead of presidential elections.

“How did they use the intelligence without confirming it? How come those who are responsible for the attack are not held to account? Mr. Prime Minister, do you think that you can get over this by referring the responsibility to [U.S. President Barack] Obama? Or is the Pentagon also trying to discredit your government? Maybe the Pentagon is another extension of Ergenekon,” she said, referring to the purported network that allegedly sought to unseat Erdoğan’s government. The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) also stepped up pressure on Erdoğan to explain publicly who issued the order for the strike and whether he personally gave the go-ahead.

“I’m asking the prime minister whether he made the decision [for the raid] as a result of that [U.S.] intelligence? It’s time for the prime minister to take responsibility,” MHP deputy group chair Oktay Vural said. “Was [Erdoğan] informed of [the strike] or not? Who pushed Turkey into this trap?”

In comments on the rekindled controversy, Peace and Democracy Party’s (BDP) deputy group chair Pervin Buldan told a press conference yesterday: “The prime minister is free to accuse others as much as he wants. We know very well that the United States and Israel were involved and that the order for the strike was given by the prime minister.”