ISTANBUL – A commission in the Turkish parliament has finalized its report on the Uludere massacre, in which 34 civilians were killed at the end of 2011. According to the report the bombing of civilians was unintentional, and it was caused by communication flaws between civilian and military authorities. Nobody is guilty, according to the report.
Three of the four parties represented in the commission don’t accept the outcome and will publish their own reports. The commission has eight members: five from governing party AKP and one from each opposition party, CHP, BDP and MHP.
In the bombing at the end of 2011 34 civilians were killed at the Turkish-Iraqi border. They were smuggling petrol and food. There are not many other ways to make a living in the region, partly because of the conflict between the Kurdish armed group the PKK and the Turkish state. Governing party AKP has always said the incident was an accident and that the smugglers were mistaken for PKK fighters. The report states that the incident must be seen as a result of the ‘intense terrorist threat’ in the region, where the PKK has camps.
Several members of the commission have serious doubts about the outcome of the investigation. They didn’t get the chance to speak to the people responsible and had no mandate to force people to talk. Several important military documents were stamped ‘secret’ before the commission could look into them, and the chair of the commission, an AKP MP, complained about that.
The members of the commission have watched the footage of unmanned patrol planes that spotted the group of 38 smugglers in the border area. According to commission members of the BDP and the CHP the footage shows very clearly that the group are no PKK fighters. Ertugrul Kürkcü, MP for the pro-Kurdish BDP to ANP news agency: ‘You clearly see that it’s not a trained military group, and also the images in which goods are loaded from trucks onto donkeys are clear. When the F16’s approach, you don’t see the group separating and hiding, as guerillas would do, but rather huddling together because they are scared’. Nineteen of the 34 victims were minors.
Kürkcü says his party will present its own report next week, and that also the social-democrat CHP and the ultra-nationalist MHP will publish their own versions.
The report leaves many questions unanswered. That can hinder the peace process between the state and the PKK, who are talking to try to find a solution to the almost 30 year old armed conflict in Turkey.