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 Turkey's Roboski villagers threaten to flee to Iraq's Kurdistan if justice not served

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Turkey's Roboski villagers threaten to flee to Iraq's Kurdistan if justice not served  10.4.2012  

Sarwat Anju and two of his children who recent fled to the Kurdistan Region from Roboski village. Photo: Rudaw  See Related Links
April 10, 2012

ZAKHO, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — Residents of Roboski village in eastern Turkey are still waiting for the government to name and try those in the army responsible for an air strike that killed 34 Kurdish villagers on the border with Iraqi Kurdistan last December.

The families of the victims believe the government is not serious about finding the criminals and threaten that, unless the government puts the culprits on trial, they will desert their villages and immigrate to the Kurdistan Region.

Sarwat Anju, who survived the air strike with two of his sons, says that he faced interrogation by the Turkish government a few days after the attack.

Last week, Anju and two of his children illegally crossed the Kurdish border and arrived in Zahko city.

“I have not slept for the past three months, fearing for my life,” Anju said.

Anju wasn’t able to bring his family to Kurdistan. He says that he and his children had to walk for eight hours to reach the Kurdistan territories.

He has left behind his wife and three other children.

Following the attack, Anju spoke to the media about the tragic experience, angering Turkish authorities.

“So, at any opportunity, they have arrested me for no reason,” he says.

Asia Sarwat, a junior high school student, wants to stay in Kurdistan and study in the Kurdish language. “I don’t want to study in Turkish anymore,” she says.

Anju, who has earned his living from smuggling goods between Turkey and Iraq for the past 15 years, says, “My father and grandfather did the same job; there are no other jobs in the area.”

Rudaw has learned that around 1,500 families are considering leaving Roboski, Hudana, Bezhah and Zivana villages to seek settlement in other parts of Kurdistan.

“Most people are waiting for spring to come and the snow to melt so they can immigrate to other parts of Kurdistan,” says Anju.

Another resident of Roboski, who has moved to Kurdistan and asked to remain anonymous, says, “We are still waiting for the Turkish government to punish the criminals; if the government remains silent, we will leave our villages and come to Kurdistan. We will not be silent about our demands even when we move to the Kurdistan Region.”

The Turkish government has tried to compensate families of the victims by offering US$12,000 to each family. But the villagers insist on an open trial of the perpetrators.

“We will not allow you to kill our sons and compensate their blood with money,” said one villager.

Hashim Anju, mayor of Roboski, recently told Rudaw, “The people of Roboski want the government to try the killers of their sons in court.”

The mayor maintained that the villagers’ only demand is to see those responsible for the bombing incident in court and punished. Otherwise, they are determined to leave their villages and migrate.

Rashid Ant, father of one of the victims, says, “The Turkish government doesn’t want to reveal the killers of our sons, and we are powerless toward the government.”

Ant says that some villagers believe that they should give the authorities another chance to bring the perpetrators to justice before they take the collective decision to abandon their villages.

“Others believe we should give the government two more months. If the government does not respond to our demands during this time, we will all leave the village together,” he said.

Sidiq Sulaiman, a resident of Roboski, says that several families have already left the area and crossed the border into the Kurdistan Region.

“Families of some of the other victims entered the Kurdistan Region through the Ibrahim Khalil border point to apply for residency.”

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