‘Look’, says C., one of the people I went to Uludere with this week, pointing to the side of the road. ‘That’s where the governor ran down to, remember?’ I do remember; I saw the footage. The governor of the Uludere district came to the Gülyazi and Roboski villages to console the families of the victims, but he was, to say the least, not very welcome. Villagers attacked him with stones and their fists, and afterwards he needed to go to hospital for a check up. What happened exactly?
If you believe Turkish papers, the attackers were incited by Kurdish politicians, in particular BDP MP Hasip Kaplan. He had warned AKP politicians not to come to Uludere because it wouldn’t be safe. Several columnists and politicians became very angry with him, saying he was threatening people. That is also what hit the headlines.
I asked C. and others how the governor got away. ‘Hasip Kaplan took the megaphone and told people to stop the attack’, they answered. They pointed out where the governor was, and where Kaplan stood when he took the megaphone.
I read an interview with the governor in, I think, Radikal, in which he stated that the people who attacked him came from other villages, and that he was sure there was nobody from Gülyazi or Roboski among them. ‘I know everybody in these villages’, he was quoted as saying. None of the villagers confirmed this to me. ‘Of course he has to say they came from other villages. He can’t say the villagers themselves didn’t want him here. He would make us look bad, and we don’t know if we could keep our children from attacking him the next time he shows himself.’ “Can he show himself again anyway?”, I ask. Not for a long time, they state. They add that’s not a big loss: ‘He has never done anything for us anyway.’
So when you read Turkish papers, what you assume happened is this: the governor came to console the victims’ families, a Kurdish politician incited the people against this government representative, and then ‘provocateurs’ from other villages came to make trouble. A picture that totally fits the prejudice that people have against Kurds and Kurdish politicians. How different the picture gets once you also hear the story from the other side.
During the day we hear that several villagers have been arrested, including family members of the victims. For what? For attacking the governor, based on TV footage. Adding everything up, it sounds to me like the people I talked to were right and the governor lied about the attackers coming from other villages. He was saved by Hasip Kaplan, and by telling a lie he hoped to save himself from future attacks.