Turkey fined 2.3 mln euros for killing of 33 villagers in 1994

Turkey fined 2.3 mln euros for killing of 33 villagers in 1994

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ordered Turkey to pay 2.3 million euros to the 38 people who lost more than 30 relatives after the Turkish military bombed two villages in the southeastern province of Şırnak by aircraft in March 1994.

Thirty three villagers in Kuşkonar and Koçağili villages of southeastern province of Şırnak were killed and three others were wounded in an attack in March 1994. The villagers claimed that they had heard a jet noise before the aerial attack and claimed that they were attacked by the Turkish Air Forces. The prosecutors decided that the attack was carried out by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants. 

The ECHR concluded that “the Turkish government had conducted an aerial attack killing 33 people and injuring three of the applicants, in violation of Article 2” (right to life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The court ordered Turkey to pay a total of 2,305,000 euros in non-pecuniary damage, and 5,700 euros jointly in respect of costs and expenses to 38 applicants, three of whom were wounded in the attack, the rest relatives.

The court found that Turkey had violated Article 2 by failing to properly investigate the attack.

“In particular, it found that almost no steps had been taken immediately after the bombing to investigate what had happened, and when the incident had actually been looked into the investigators were not independent, formed baseless conclusions on extremely minimal investigations, and attempted to withhold the investigation documents from the applicants,” said the court in its explanation of the decision. The court also said that the prosecutors’ conclusions demonstrated that “none of them had an open mind” as to what could have happened in the applicants’ villages at the time, and they “hastily blamed the killings on the PKK without any basis.” Most crucially, no investigation was apparently carried out into the flight log, the key element for the possible identification and prosecution of those responsible, said the court.

The court also said that the Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) had been violated, because the villagers had been forced to witness the deaths of their relatives and the destruction of their homes, and were not provided with even the minimum of humanitarian aid to deal with the aftermath of the attack.