Levent Gök, an MP of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has informed the Parliamentary Human Rights Investigating Committee of his party’s dissent with the report prepared by the Uludere Subcommittee.
According to Gök, the reason for the Uludere massacre of 34 border smugglers lies in the fact that “Fehman Hüseyin/Bahoz Erdal [a Syrian leading PKK member] was thought to be among [the group of smugglers], the lives of the people who were known to be smugglers were risked and the bombing order was given.”
The opposition report, which touches on issues not mentioned in the committee’s report, ends with the statement that “the death of 34 of our civilian citizens after being bombed by F-16 fighter planes is a most grave violation of the right to life.” It adds that a government apology is long overdue.
Gök added that the subcommittee’s report did not answer any questions, did not point to those responsible, did not evaluate the event as a violation of the right to life and was attempting a cover-up. He presented a report with his conclusions to the public.
According to Gök, Prime Minister Erdoğan is politically responsible, and those who should be held responsible from a military point of view should be, in that order, the Chief of General Staff, the Air Force Commander, the Second Chief of General Staff, the First Chief of General Staff, the Chief of the General Staff’s Centre of Operations and the Commander of the 23rd Gendarmerie Border Division.
Gök said that the Uludere subcommittee made up of different party members had looked for answers to the following questions:
Who evaluated the images collected by Heron (an unmanned aerial vehicle) and who analysed them? Who decided that the designated target, that is the people to be bombed, were members of the PKK [the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party]? What intelligence was used when this decision was made? Who gave the order to bomb?
The subheadings of the CHP’s alternative report are as follows:
The victims have been portrayed as PKK members: Although the authorities know that those who died were underage civilians, both civilian and military authorities have made statements that have created the impression that they were PKK members. None of the victims had any connections to the PKK; in fact, relatives of 27 of the deceased are village guards [used by the government in their fight against the PKK] and one of the deceased himself was a village guard.
The ASELSAN report was falsified: The subcommittee report used the Heron images from the ASELSAN report from the time of 00.26, trying to prove that PKK members were at the location at the time of the bombing. However, the ASELSAN report states that these were images of villagers going to the area from the village in order to help their children. In addition, the report is very clear about the fact that the images show vehicles, people and loads. However, the subcommittee report has altered the ASELSAN report in such a way as to give different impressions.
The state took hours to make statements: The delay of a public statement was a deliberate move to convince the public that terrorists or terrorists hiding among smugglers had been bombed. The statement by the General Staff came around 14 hours after the event, while the Prime Minister and the Chief of General Staff waited for five days before they had a meeting.
Villagers had warned the gendarmerie before the last bomb: 70 seconds before the last bomb was dropped,Ubeydullah Encü from the Ortasu villagecalledtheGülyazıGendarmerie Commander Vehbi Göçmen,telling him that children and mules from their villages were crossing into Iraq and warning him that they should not be harmed in the operation. This conversation has been verified by both the interlocutors and by a report on the telephone recordings.
The wounded were not treated: In a meeting withmilitary commanders at the governor’s office in the border province Şırnak, subcommittee members were told that the reason for the lack of emergency medical care at the bombing site was the fear that soldiers would be attacked by furious citizens. Villagers have told subcommittee members that some of the wounded had died from blood loss or from the cold.
Not all documents were presented to the subcommittee: The Uludere subcommittee had requested the necessary information and documents from the General Staff and MIT [the Turkish secret service]. When the General Staff’s reply was unsatisfactory, documents were requested by the office of the Diyarbakır Specially Authorised Chief Public Prosecutor. First, secrecy was cited as an excuse, and when the demand for information was renewed, the documents that were sent did not answer any of the critical questions. The dossier sent to the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office had vital documents missing.
Refusal to apportion blame: The subcommittee members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) emphasised that the function of the subcommittee was not to question but to investigate and that it did not have the authority to determine who was responsible. However, the subcommittee does have the authority and legal backing to identify those responsible and take action accordingly.
Soldiers noticed “something strange” after 23.15: When subcommittee members spoke to local military forces, they were told that all the commands had been conditioned to believe that [the leading PKK member] Fehman Hüseyin and other terrorists were in the group that was to come. However, after 23.15, they noticed that “there was something wrong”, but for fear of clashes between soldiers and citizens, they did not go to the location.
MIT claims to have been informed the next day: MIT has claimed that the first official information it received came on 29 December at 09.35. However, if we consider the fact that news agencies were reporting the bombing one or two hours after it happened, the claim that MIT learned about it 12 hours after the event is truly scandalous.
People and mules are clearly visible: In the Heron images, no objects in the people’s hands or the mules’ saddle bags look remotely like weapons. It is very clear that the group is made up of people and mules involved in cross-border trade.
Fehman Hüseyin to be killed at any price: Theinterviews have shown that decision makers were assuming that Fehman Hüseyin was going to hide among smugglers and carry out an operation with them, planning to attack military bases. That is why, although the group was known to be made up of smugglers, Hüseyin was assumed to be among them and the order to bomb was given. The lives of the smugglers were risked knowingly.
Prime Minister must have known about cross-border operation: The reports from both the General Staff and the Civil Service Auditors show that the operation took place across the border. Any cross-border operation requires informing and requesting permission from the government. It is clear that such an operation was carried out with the knowledge and consent of the Prime Minister and following the command of the Chief of General Staff, who has the authority to give orders to the Air Force. (ÇT/AG/KU)