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 Turkish General Staff and Gov't Bear Responsibility for Roboski Kurdish massacre

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Turkish General Staff and Gov't Bear Responsibility for Roboski Kurdish massacre  7.2.2012  

Locals gather in front of the bodies of people who were killed in a Turkish warplane attack in the Ortasu village of Uludere, in the Sirnak province [Turkey Kurdistan], on December 29, 2011. Turkish warplanes killed 34 Kurdish villagers in an air strike near the Iraqi Kurdistan border, Photo: EPA.
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MP Kürkçü of the Uludere sub-commission said, "The operation was directed from Ankara. The General Staff bears responsibility and therefore also the political power". MP Gök stated that the operation was done with the knowledge of the Prime Ministry and the General Staff.

February 7, 2012

SIRNAK, The Kurdish region of Turkey, — The Uludere sub-commission visited the province of Şırnak on Monday (6 February) to investigate the aerial strike that caused the death of 34 civilian Kurds on 28 December in the Turkey's Kurdistan south-east of Turkey [Northern Kurdistan], BIA news website reported.

The sub-commission was established within the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission in order to shed light on the background of the incident. Members of the commission talked to military and civil officials in Şırnak. The previous day, they had talked to villagers, mainly relatives of the victims and survivors.

Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Mersin Deputy Ertuğrul Kürkçü said in a statement made to bianet, "The incident started in Ankara and it was finished in Ankara". The investigation was going to be continued in Ankara from now on, he announced.

According to Kürkçü, the commission holds the opinion that the bombardment was a planned massacre, a view that is also supported by the facts, the deputy emphasized.

Republican Peoples' Party (CHP) Ankara Deputy Levent Gök announced the findings after talks with military officials:

"The units in Şırnak are not responsible for the operation. It was carried out entirely upon commands and orders coming from Ankara. Images and determinations related to cross-border actions are made from Ankara. Contrary to common belief, the military officials in Şırnak were not involved in the determination of the target".

"We think that the information and authority regarding the operation was held by the General Staff and Prime Ministry. We will continue our work in Ankara".

The commission talked to the divisional commander, the brigadier commander and his deputy, the regimental commander of the gendarmerie, the governor and his deputy and to the prosecutor.

Kürkçü told bianet about the talks with the villagers on Sunday and with regional officials on Monday:

"No responsibility of the local military unit"

* As understood from the picture that emerged today [6 February], local military units were apparently not part of the operation and neither hold authority nor responsibility. The authority was entirely held by the General Staff and the operation was evidently based on the permit for a cross-border operation.

* During the two weeks preceding and following the bombardment, the intelligence gave notice of increased activities of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the region. Many radio conversations were intercepted. There was a state of alarm in the region. Yet, the local units said that the measures they took were not related to the aerial strike.

* We will watch the images captured by the Heron drones for the period of four hours before the incident. The footage is currently at the Diyarbaykır Public Prosecution that is in charge of the investigation. At 9.00 pm the local units receive the order to cease their movement. They stop all actions in the region upon the order from Ankara.

* We are going to talk to the General Staff, the Prime Ministry and the Ministry of the Interior. We will continue our investigation in Ankara.

* What the villagers told us matches with our talks held with officials. The villagers said that they had not received any warning from the military officials. They told us that everybody was used to the cross-border trading and that they experienced this attack all of a sudden.

"Started and finished in Ankara"

* The villagers deemed the incident a planned massacre and this is obvious. What needs to be revealed now is who gave the order for this massacre and why. I logically assumed that this was a planned massacre even before we were able to access that much detailed information.
* Now, my opinion was supported by facts. I think that this was a cross-border operation and that the responsibility lies with the General Staff and therefore with the political power. This is what I think after all I have heard. The incident of Roboski [one of the affected villages in Uludere] started in Ankara and was finished in Ankara. We hope to be able to complete our investigation within two months, maybe even earlier.

Earlier on Roboski massacre

Amnesty International last January calls on the Turkish authorities to investigate immediately the death of at least 35 Kurdish civilians in the military airstrike. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said on January 3, 2012 Turkey will pay reparations to the families of Kurdish villagers killed in air strikes near the Iraqi Kurdistan border, but will not officially apologise. Hasip Kaplan, BDP parliamentary group president and deputy for Şırnak has said that Ankara is behind the massacre in the Kurdish village of Roboski.

A US Predator drone mistakenly targeted the Kurdish civilians, a report said last January. The drone, was one of four based at Incirlik Airbase in southern Turkey, launched the airstrike in December on the village of Ortasu, sources told Turkey's Aydinlik. In its main headline on Sunday, Turkish Aydinlik newspaper quoted "credible sources" as saying that the US drone had launched the airstrike by targeting the victims. Iran's Press TV reported. Turkish air force F-16 fighter jets arrived on scene about 16 to 18 minutes later and continued the attack on what the military thought were members of the of Kurdistan Workers' Party rebel group, Iran's Press TV said.

Turkey’s Consul-General in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan region, Aydin Selcen, confirmed reports that the US deployed drones to Turkey’s Incirlik air base following its troop withdrawal from Iraq.

On the same issue, the journalist, Ece Temelkuran, said she was fired from her job as a columnist at the daily newspaper Haberturk because of the critical stance she took on the incident, in which Turkish air force jets killed diesel fuel and cigarette smugglers, many of them less than 17 years of age. The Turkish military said it believed the smugglers were insurgents from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.

The pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) has taken the case of Roboski massacre to the International Criminal Court ICC on January 24, 2012.

Since it was established in 1984, the PKK has been fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish state in the south east of the country, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous Kurdish region and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.

PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees, lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.

Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.

The PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union's terror list. 

Sources: | AFP | | Agencies

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