Turkey’s Saturday mothers gather for the 700th time

Every Saturday afternoon a group of mothers in Turkey gathers on a square in Istanbul to draw attention to the fate of hundreds of missing people. On Saturday 25 August 2018, they gather for the 700th time. Journalist Fréderike Geerdink tells us more about the mothers.

Interview for late night radio show Met het Oog op Morgen, Friday evening 24 August, Dutch public radio. In Dutch, obviously, listen from minute 0:37:37.

Facing Roboski: a painful but necessary part of the peace process

(Türkçe burada okuyabilirsiniz)

An intelligence officer in the Turkish army, Milliyet journalist Kemal Göktas revealed on Monday, told his superiors on the evening of the Roboski massacre that the group they were planning to bomb was most likely just villagers and not PKK members. Aygün Eker, who is a colonel now, did get through to his chief, Brigadier General Halil Erkek, but higher up in the chain of command they refused to listen. The group was bombed and 34 people who were smuggling cigarettes, tea and petrol, were killed. Twenty of them were minors.

Front page of Milliyet, Monday 16 February 2015
Front page of Milliyet, Monday 16 February 2015

What is exactly the news here? That the army knew they were bombing civilians on that evening of 28 December 2011? No, I don’t think that’s the news. Whoever really delved into the Roboski massacre would easily have concluded already that it was most likely not an accident. There are loads of indications for that, and combined with some basic journalism and logical thinking, the conclusion can be easily drawn – I’m not getting into the details here, since I have written about them before. Continue reading “Facing Roboski: a painful but necessary part of the peace process”

The fear of the PKK is greater than the fear of the state

‘Please, don’t publish about it’, she begged me with tears in her eyes. So I cannot give any further information about the case of the woman who joined the PKK, fought for them for years, got into some internal dispute and was reportedly killed by the organization. Her name, her age, her city of origin, when she went up to the mountains and when her life ended: I cannot share it. Her family is too afraid of repercussions.

Call me naive, but I hope a natural result of the peace process will be that I can publish this story without worrying about the safety of my sources, and that I can verify the story. And that somebody is held accountable.

PKK fighters in Qandil, Newroz 2014.
PKK fighters in Qandil, Newroz 2014.

Recently, several people asked me if I was not aware of the murders the PKK carried out against its own members and Kurdish civilians, and of their attacks on civilians targets in Turkey. I am, of course. Everybody who immerses himself in the Kurdish issue in Turkey soon stumbles upon these crimes. Continue reading “The fear of the PKK is greater than the fear of the state”

The peace process is dead. Long live the peace process!

‘The leader says the peace process continues.’ I am standing between the graves of Medeni Yildirim, murdered by the state in Lice last year while protesting new army posts, and the grave of Ramazan Baran, that is just being closed. The middle aged man I talk to is standing next to me. He has tears in his eyes. We look at each other and I ask him what he thinks the PKK should do now. ‘I don’t know’, he says. ‘The leader says the peace process continues’.

Ramazan Baran is burried with a flag of the Patriot Revolutionary Youth Movement, linked to the PKK.
Ramazan Baran is burried with a flag of the Patriot Revolutionary Youth Movement, linked to the PKK.

The peace process continues because Abdullah Öcalan says so. But it is an increasingly vulnerable balance between the anger of the people, the state violence on the ground and the lack of serious democratic steps towards peace by the government on the one hand, and the mantra of the continuing peace process on the other. Continue reading “The peace process is dead. Long live the peace process!”

The mine killed the people of Soma. Like the planes killed the people of Roboski.

In the small town of Cumaliköy, right by the Soma mine, there is not much other work than being a miner, I read in an article about last week’s disaster. The work is dangerous, it doesn’t pay much, but you just have no choice if you want to feed your family. And again, like so many times last week, the Roboski massacre came to my mind. There too the people had no choice but to do dangerous work to feed their families: smuggling. And there too the state was responsible for the deaths, and looked the other way.

somaroboskiMaybe that’s why I have come close to literally being sick last week. First the horrific catastrophe, then all the reflexes of the state to cover it up. I have come to know the state and it’s reflexes in detail while investigating the Roboski massacre for my book, and this week I saw them all again, making me nauseous. Continue reading “The mine killed the people of Soma. Like the planes killed the people of Roboski.”

MIT, the Paris murders and Roboski massacre

Ji bo nivîsa Kurdî li vir xînin.
Türkçe yazı için buraya tıklayınız.

Within two days this month, on 12 and 13 January, information was leaked concerning both the murder of three Kurdish women in Paris (on 9 January 2013) and the Roboski massacre (of 28 December 2011). The core information that came out: the Turkish intelligence agency MIT is behind the murders of a total of 37 people.  Continue reading “MIT, the Paris murders and Roboski massacre”

The young men of Roboski

Ji bo nivîsa Kurdî li vir xînin.
Türkçe yazı için buraya tıklayınız.

It was busier than last year, the commemoration of the Roboski massacre. This year, the gendarmes did not close off the road from Hakkari, as they did in 2012, so more people could make it to the ceremony. It also helped that 28 December, the day on which the massacre took place in 2011, was on a Saturday. Apart from that, the ceremony was the same, and it will be the same for years to come. Only when the truth about the massacre comes out officially through an independent and thorough investigation will the families of the victims and the villagers be able to lay their grief to rest.

Continue reading “The young men of Roboski”

Personal grievances

‘The Roboski families’, stated BDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas in an interview on IMC-TV, ‘are glad because they got to meet the prime minister in person. They had the opportunity to express themselves to the person who is politically the main authority’.

‘The Roboski families’ seem to have become a single entity, although altogether the family members of the 34 people who were killed in the massacre add up to a few hundred people. It cannot be that all of them are glad a delegation from the families met with Tayyip Erdogan. But apparently, under the current political situation, they are supposed to be glad about the meeting. Demirtas says so. Continue reading “Personal grievances”

Five hundred days later

Let me first describe the scenery. A sand road in a mountainous area, some 35 people sitting beside it, including me. To our left, after the road takes a bend to the right: a road block with an armoured vehicle, red and white tape cordon, barbed wire, a ‘restricted area’ sign and some twenty military personnel. On the hill top high above: a group of at least a hundred people who went around the road block to reach the place where they wanted to commemorate their loved ones, who died in an air force bombing exactly 500 days ago. Continue reading “Five hundred days later”

The way to peace, according to the citizens of Diyarbakir

‘The PKK’, an elderly man says, ‘should not withdraw from Turkey. Why not? Because they are our children!’ He gets the biggest and longest applause from the people attending the first public meeting of the ‘wise people commission’ in Diyarbakir. At least five hundred people attended, in a theatre that can seat 375 people. The ‘wise people’ didn’t come to explain the current peace process to the people, as their task is described by the government, but to listen. Continue reading “The way to peace, according to the citizens of Diyarbakir”