‘Comment: Uludere bombing decision a sign of impunity and cover-up in Turkey’

A 16-page decision by an Ankara military prosecutor today proved once again that in Turkey the state can kill civilians and get away with it, comments Emma Sinclair-Webb, Senior Researcher on Turkey.

Here is the analysis, from her blog with HRW:

”The decision to reject the prosecution of anyone for the aerial bombardment that killed 34 Kurdish men and boys in Uludere, on Turkey’s border with Iraqi Kurdistan, already comes two years after the December 28, 2011 incident. The prosecutor termed the bombing of villagers crossing the border back to their villages smuggling diesel fuel, tea, and sugar “an unavoidable error” for which no one is responsible.

The investigation has been shrouded in secrecy from the beginning. In June the prosecutor’s office in Diyarbakir washed its hands of the case and passed the file to the military prosecutor’s office in Ankara.

Following a visit to Turkey in November 2012, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, concluded that “the most important and urgent challenge is the lack of accountability in cases of killings, both those perpetrated recently and those from the 1990s.”

Heyns dwelt at length on the Uludere massacre, urging: “An effective, prompt, impartial and transparent criminal investigation into the Uludere/Roboski incident should be undertaken as a matter of great priority. The individuals responsible should be held liable and sanctioned accordingly. Responsibility should include those implicated in the chain of command, irrespective of their position.”

The military prosecutor didn’t agree and preferred to follow the government line.

The government has sought to bury this episode, apparently hoping people will forget the suffering the Turkish air force brought to the villagers of Ortasu (Roboski in Kurdish) and Gülyazı (Bujeh) that December night.  The families of the victims are appealing the decision not to prosecute. If necessary they have vowed to take the case to the Constitutional Court, and if there is no justice in Turkey then yet another case of state-perpetrated killing of Kurdish civilians will go to the European Court of Human Rights.”

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About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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