Report on the Massacre of Roboski – 03 January 2012

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Report on the Massacre of the Villagers of Gülyazı (Bujeh) and Ortasu (Roboski) Villages of Uludere (Qileban) District of Şırnak Province

Incident: 35 people–all of the males, 17 of them juveniles- were killed and another one was wounded and two other survived without wounding in the air attack of the Turkish Air Force to the group that had trespassed the border between Turkey and Iraq and returning back to Turkey in the vicinity of Gülyazı (Bujeh) and Ortasu (Roboski) Villages of Uludere (Qileban) District of Şırnak Province on 28 December 2011 at 21:30-22:30.
Aim: The aims of the human rights commission are to interview with the survivors, relatives of the deceased, witnesses if any, and with the authorities on the massacre; to prepare a report in the light of the information gathered with the research and investigation; to contribute to reveal out the material reality by sending the report to the authorised institutions and offices; to enable the public opinion to access the real information; and to demand an effective investigation to ascertain the perpetrators.
The Constitution of the Commission: As soon as the news concerning the incident reached at 9 am on 29 December 2011, the General Centres of the Human Rights Association (IHD) and the Organisation of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed People (MAZLUMDER) decided to constitute the first commission with consulting their local branches and the commission arrived the scene of the incident in the afternoon of the same day.
Consultations with NGOs and civil society organisations were made for the constitution of another commission and the commission organised by IHD, MAZLUMDER, Confederation of Public Employees Trade Unions (KESK), Turkish Medical Association (TTB), Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT), Contemporary Lawyers Association (ÇHD), Peace Assembly of Turkey and General Work Trade Union (DİSK Genel İş) arrived to Diyarbakır Province the same day in the afternoon.
The constitution of the first commission that made the preliminary research and investigation:
First Commission was composed of following persons, MAZLUMDER Vice General Chairperson Selahattin ÇOBAN; MAZLUMDER Diyarbakır Branch Chairperson Abdurrahim AY; MAZLUMDER Diyarbakır Branch Executive Deniz ÇAVUŞ; MAZLUMDER Diyarbakır Branch Executive Nurettin BOZKURT; MAZLUMDER Hakkari Branch Chairperson Cengiz ŞEN; MAZLUMDER Hakkari Branch Executive Nihat GÜR; MAZLUMDER Hakkari Branch Executive Çetin CAN; IHD’s Diyarbakır Branch Executive and IHD Executive Board Member Serdar ÇELEBİ; IHD Executive Board Member Haşim USLU; IHD Siirt Branch Chairperson Vetha AYDIN; IHD Mardin Branch Chairperson Erdal KUZU; IHD Mardin Branch Executive Hüseyin CANGİR; IHD Van Branch Secretary Sami GÖRENDAĞ; IHD Van Branch Member Arşad NARÇİN; IHD Hakkari Branch Secretary Sait ÇAĞLAYAN, IHD Hakkari Branch Accountant Ferzende TAŞ; IHD Hakkari Branch Executive Garip GAZİOĞLU; IHD Yüksekova Representative Bedirhan ALKAN.
Second Commission composed of NGOs and civil society organisations: IHD General Chairperson Öztürk Türkdoğan; MAZLUMDER General Chairperson A. Faruk Ünsal; MAZLUMDER Executive Board Member Nurcan Aktay; KESK General Chairperson Lami Özgen; TTB’s Central Council Members Osman Öztürk, Halis Yerlikaya and Zülfikar Cebe; ÇHD’s General Chairperson Selçuk Kozağaçlı, HRFT’s Executive Board Member Hürriyet Şener; Selma Güngör and İmam Canpolat from the Secretariat of the Peace Assembly of Turkey; DİSK Genel İş Executive Board Member Remzi Çalışkan and writer Temel Demirer.
Eğitim-Sen Diyarbakır Branch Chairperson Kasım Birtek, KESK Diyarbakır Branch Platformu Dönem Sözcüsü BTS Branch Secretary Veysel Özhekti, BES Diyarbakır Branch Chairperson Edip Binbir, SES Diyarbakır Branch Executive Ramazan Kaval, Diyarbakır Medical Chamber Chairperson Şemsettin Koç were accompanied to the Commission from Diyarbakır Province.
Executives and members of the local branches of the organisations from Batman, Mardin, Siirt, Şırnak, Hakkari and Van Provinces were joined the commission.
Attempts of the Commission: The First Commission reached Uludere (Qileban) District of Şırnak Province on 29 December 2011 at 5.00 p.m. and examined the corpses one by one at the State Hospital and the place and conditions of the autopsies and took photographs. At 7 p.m. published the preliminary examination report. The First Commission waited for the completion of the autopsies in the morning of 30 December 2011 and following the post-mortem procedures moved to Gülyazı (Bujeh) and Ortasu (Roboski) Villages. An investigation was conducted where the incident occurred and interviewed with many villagers and relatives of the deceased, and took their opinions and statements. A large part of the investigation and research by members of the commission was recorded with photographs and camera footages.
MAZLUMDER General Centre made written applications to facilitate the activities of the commission and requested an appointment Sirnak Governorate, Uludere District Governorate, Sirnak Chief Public Prosecution Office and Uludere District Gendarmerie Command Office on 30 December 2011.
The Central Commission (the Second Commission) 04.30 a.m. on 30 December 2011 started out with a bus from Diyarbakir, and reached Uludere around 11.00 a.m. where set off with the funeral convoy and continued until Ortasu and Gülyazı Villages. The commission attended the beginning of the funeral in Gülyazı Village and then went to the scene without delay. The army unit hindered the commission to reach the scene of incident just 200 metres away and forced the commission return back by deploying troops to the scene with helicopters as soon as the commission moved to the scene. The commission interviewed with the witnesses of the incident and performed condolence visits to three families in their houses and applied to their information about the incident.
The delegation went to the scene to the scene saw a military union (border line) by making shipments of military helicopters to turn back 200 meters to the scene, forced the delegation had left, returned to the scene, event and met with the delegation, visited the three-family homes condolence to found incident with the right-dried headman and other villagers After interviewing with the head of Ortasu Village, the two survivors and the villager the commission left the village at 08.00 p.m.
Arrival and the Interviews of the Commission:The First Commission reached Uludere (Qileban) District of Şırnak Province on 29 December 2011 at around 05.00 p.m. The presence of the several foreign-plated vehicles and foreigners were observed from the entrance of Uludere (Qileban) District of Şırnak Province. The commission learned that the corpses of the 35 people were in Uludere (Qileban) State Hospital, and one of the wounded person was taken to Şırnak State Hospital and another survivors is in shock and unable to speak and the last survivor Hacı ENCÜ could speak. Commission then stated the aims of their visit to the ones at the entrance of the hospital and as human rights defenders conveyed condolences. The commission observed that there wasn’t any preparation to meet the needs of the crowd outside the hospital and some people were eating their own food and people outside the hospital were standing or sitting on the ground. The Commission was unable to find an officer or correspondent in the hospital and informed by the relatives of the deceased that the majority of corpses were in the above floors and autopsy procedures were done in the basement floor. Thereupon the commission went to the place of autopsy. The hall in the basement was divided with a screen and several bed covers were thrown on the screen. Down the stairs on the right side was central heating system and the place in which the autopsy procedures were conducted was on the left. The smell of diesel fuel inside the hall was very dense. The number of the officers was few and there were only the forensic medicine experts. It is determined that only one lawyer from the Şırnak Bar association was allowed to be present in the autopsy procedure on behalf of the families and two prosecutors have been conducting the procedures and six autopsies were finalised until 6.30 p.m.
Later the commission noted that the women have been mourning in the entrance so that their voices could be heard all over the hospital and later photographed the corpses one by one.
The Commission tried to gather information from the waiting families during the autopsies. Interviews with Hacı Encü (one of the survivors) and relatives of the victims were conducted in the hospital. In the beginning there were not any security officers but later during the pencilling of the preliminary report two minibuses full of riot police officers and an armour police vehicle came to the hospital, police officers left their vehicles and formed a single file and crossed the dooryard of the hospital with their vehicles escorting them.
On 30 December 2011 the commission left the hospital in the morning and went to the village of the deceased and investigated the scene of the incident. The “smugglers’ road” which was used to go to the scene that was approximately 4-5 kilometres away from the village has been covered with ice and although it was recently cleaned by the bulldozers -their marks could be seen- it was still muddy. The mountainous scene of incident was under snow and blood, dead mules and things that were blown were scattered around in the scene of bombing.
First Commission made investigations for approximately one hour in the scene of incident and two hours in the village.
The interviews were kept comprehensive and everything that could be evidence were photographed and taken under record.
The members of the Commission did not see any soldier or a member of the security forces. No public officer including the gendarmerie was seen in the mourning place of the villagers, inside and around the village.
The observations of the second commission are as follows: Neither public officer nor the member of the security forces was seen in mass burial place and inside Gülyazı Village. A very large crowd was gathered in the burial place from the villagers of Ortasu and Gülyazı Villages and from the people living in the vicinity. Diyarbakır Metropolitan Mayor Chairperson Osman Baydemir and other province and district mayors, BDP Group Chairperson Selahattin Demirtaş, BDP Group Deputy Chairperson Şırnak Deputy Hasip Kaplan and other deputies of the BDP, independent deputy Ahmet Türk and CHP İstanbul Deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu were seen and were condoled.
The army unit and the army helicopters in the unit were seen on the slope of the hill in vicinity of Gülyazı Village.
Although Gülyazı Village has a dense population was kept under the village status.
The distance between the scene of the incident and the nearest army unit (border brigate) was 6,7 kilometres on the map.
The Second Commission was harassed by deploying a fully-equipped army unit on the borderline and on the road to Ortasu Village by helicopters and by circling helicopters on the commission. The commission forced to stop by soldiers 200 metres before the scene of incident and told that they could not go to the scene on the grounds that it was banned. The Commission insisted to go to the place of the incident and had to return back after the army officer told them that they would be force to return back with the order from the army radio. But the commission could observe the borderline and the bombing area with bare eyes.
Interviews with the above mentioned persons by our Commissions are as follows:1- Haci Encü (19) who had survived from the incident and whom we interviewed with in the hospital on 29 December 2011 (abridged):
On 28 December 2011 at 4.00 p.m. we crossed the border to Iraq with a group of 40-50 people and with same number of mules to bring diesel oil and food to bring together. We intentionally did not inform the gendarmerie headquarters but they already knew that we come and go. Our goal was to bring sugar and diesel. In fact, even on the way we heard the sound of unmanned aerial vehicle, but we continued our way because we always come and go. At night at 7.00 p.m. we started to return back after loading the mules. At 9.00 p.m. we approached the border. We reached the plateau of our village; our plateau is just on the border. First there was lighting flares and subsequently salvos of artillery-howitzer. We left the load on the other side of the border. Immediately after the salvos aircrafts came and started bombing. We were two groups; there was a distance of 300-400 meters between the front of group and the one behind it. Immediately after the artillery salvos the aircrafts came. There is not any other way to pass to the other side of the border because the soldiers held our plateau. So the groups are squeezed and had to come together, at the end we became two large groups. With the first air bombardment the group of about 20 people which was on the zero-point of the border was destroyed. Immediately we started to flee back; bombs began to rain on ones between the rocks. The group that I have been part of was consisting of 6 persons and 3 from the group survived. We have plain clothes on us, no one had guns. The event lasted for approximately 1 hour or something. We two people with 3 mules entered the water in the creek. After waiting an hour we took refuge under a rock and we could not hear anything from our friends. Between 11.00 and 11.30 p.m. we understood that villagers were coming from the lights and sounds. The soldiers began to leave the plateau that they held as the peasants began to wail. We have been doing this business for a very long time. Two of us were married; others were high-school or primary school students. No one has yet called me to give testimony. After the event, I did not see any soldier. The other survivors are Davut Encü (22 year-old) and Servet Encü (wounded, Şırnak State Hospital).”
2- Servet ENCÜ who had survived from the incident and whom we interviewed with after the funeral on 30 December 2011 (abridged):
„Our fathers, grandfathers also did this job (cross-border trade). We also did. There is no factory here. We are earning our lives with this business. Everyone in this village, in this border, is doing the job.
On the night of the incident 7- 8 people from each of the 2 or 3 villages, up to a total of nearly 40 people with our mules and crossed the border approximately two kilometres. There we bought diesel oil, sugar and food from Iraqis. We did not go to Haftanin and Sinat. The way back, the soldiers stopped us. Every time they did. However they gave permission to pass. This time did not allow. They made us to wait at the border. At last they poured bombs on us. 37 people, including students whose ages ranging between 10 and 20, were shot for doing this job for 50, 60 or 100-TL.
Selam ENCÜ, one of the dead, was a student of engineering. Şivan was 15, Orhan was 10, Mehmet was 11 year-old. There was no anyone from PKK (member of the organization).
The PKK does not deal with bringing diesel oil with 40-50 mules. The soldiers who stopped us at the border never spoke with us. After the incident no military officials came to help. After the bombing several wounded people froze to death on the grounds that no one had not shown up to help. We the three people from the 38 have survived. They did not see me because I was hiding buried in snow.
Previously soldiers had been stopping us however after a while they gave permission to us to pass. This time they did not let us go by closing all sides. The soldiers went away with their cars as soon as the bombing began.
If I were not survived the corpses would wait there for 1-2 days. We were in three separate groups that one of them in the border and others away from it. We thought to leave with leaving our load when they did not allow us to pass. After the bombing I walked approximately 100 metres and asked for help by telephone. After 2-3 hours, they came to help. Soldiers or an authorized person did not come, just our people came. We had left the village at 5 p.m. and at 9.30 p.m. we reached the border. At 9.40 p.m. was the bombing. The students among us were doing this work for their pocket money.
Our village is five kilometres inside from the border. The first group informed us after reaching border that the soldiers took measures. We thought to leave our load and pass the border as such because of the cold weather. At that moment four aircrafts came and bombed for 1,5 hours. We informed the headquarters by phone and they did not come. At 3 a.m. we carried the wounded and the dead to the half way to the village. Half of the wounded died on the road. Two or three of them could survive with timely medical intervention. The soldiers on the border knew that we were villagers and we have been doing this business. Before the incident time to time they waited on the border. They closed the road and left the others open. Our friends informed that the border was held by the soldiers.
I flew into the air due to explosions and then fell and I was buried in the snow. We will do this job as long as we are allowed to do. A clash was not occurred in his route so far. Until today when the soldiers caught us they shot our mules, burn the saddles and the goods we brought. This time, they shot us.
The first group informed us when they could not cross the border. We stayed where we were. As we were waiting on the grounds that the soldiers would allow us to pass or we could find another way to pass we as two separate groups were bombed. We were bombed separately.
I saw that some of the wounded died due to loss of blood and neither the security forces nor the ambulance arrive”.
3-From another village not a witness but one of the first people that arrived the scene (who does not want to give his name):
Two days before the incident a clash took place in the road junction of Uludere. Soldiers told to our friend who buys the goods we bring during the border trade and sells the shops that “Tonight is the last one. You will not be able to do this job again”.
4-The father of Ferhat ENCÜ whose right to life was violated:
In last one month the soldiers did not give trouble as we did our job.
5- Another villager (who does not want to give his name)
Health personnel tried to reach the scene of the incident with ambulances from Şırnak Province at 3 a.m. Soldiers hindered them saying you cannot go there with ambulances. After the reaction of the villagers whom the health personnel met they went to the headquarters and said that they would like to go to the scene. But in the headquarters they told the health personnel that only the paths could be used and the road was not safe. A friend of mine who is a health personnel working in Şırnak Province told me these.
6-Another villager (who does not want to give his name)
I was also once a smuggler. There is an unwritten contract between us and the soldiers. The State could save the wounded with the helicopters in Şırnak Province as the minsters who carried the wounded from Libya with private ambulance airplanes and as the ones who had wounded in Mavi Marmara attack from Israel. Some of the wounded frozen to dead.
7- Şükrü UYSAL, the brother of Özcan UYSAL whose right to life was violated:
“I have been living in Ortasu village. I was in the village when the incident took place. A lot of people from our village provide their living with the border trade. Border trade has been going on for many years. Border trade has been conducted with the information of the gendarmerie headquarters in our village for a long time. My brother’s group moved from the village to the Iraqi border on 28 December 2011 at 2 p.m. As they were returning approximately at 9 in the evening they divided into two groups after seeing the soldiers who had closed the road. The pioneering group waited in the border and watched the soldiers while the other one informed the others about the soldiers. As they were doing this they were attacked. The rear group took refuge in a rocky area. The first group was killed in a flat place, and there is still snow everywhere. Lightning flares fired by the soldiers illuminated everywhere as the daylight. Thanks to this lighting soldiers could see clearly everyone. The route was a continuously used route and there was a road on the route. There were mines on the road. 35 villagers have been killed and 3 people were wounded in the incident. “
8- The head of Ortasu Village we talked in the mourning house:
We have been doing border trade in this route, I mean this job, since the English had drawn this border. Soldiers and the state officials know that we have been doing smuggling. I think that this incident is a movement like Ergenekon or Balyoz because it took place just after Bülent Arınç told that they will give the rights of Kurds. Moreover the villages in the surrounding voted for the [pro-Kurdish] Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). I have been thinking why this incident took place. The region is not the route of PKK because the Iraq side is flat; it is impossible to make a surprise attack from that side to the Turkish border. Everyone approaching from that side would be noticed by the Turkish soldiers. There was not a clash in this route until now. Generally during the operation the head of the village and the temporary village guards were warmed before in order to prevent the smugglers not to go to the region or not to return back. Our place, Gülyazı Village could not be a municipality although it has a high population. We want the border gate to be open here. We made official applications. But…”
9- Another villager who talked in the mourning house in Ortasu Village:
“Herons detect everything. Our children were not carrying guns. Herons should have detected this. Instead why did they bomb our children…”
10- Hacı Encü who talked in the mourning house in Ortasu Village:
“We reached the border at 7 p.m. We loaded petrol and sugar from a place 2,5 or 3 kilometres inside the border and returned back. Servet Encü from the pioneers came to us just 200-300 metres before the border and told us that the soldiers had closed the border. Later they lighted the border. We heard the salvos of the artillery. Then the fighters bombed. Half an hour later they bombed our place. The first group was completely burned down. Our place did not get blacked”
11- Another villager who talked in the mourning house in Ortasu Village:
“No one came to help after the incident although we informed. They did not reply our calls. We brought our dead. Our children could be saved if they interfered on time”.
Official interviews made in Uludere and Şırnak Province:1- Şırnak Chief Public Prosecution Office: On 30 December 2011 a fax message had been sent from MAZLUMDER General Centre and called on 02 January 2012. As a reply the office told the commission that their programme was full for two days and they could not meet with the commission.
2- Uludere District Governorate Naif Yavuz: On 30 December 2011 a fax message had been sent from MAZLUMDER General Centre and called on 02 January 2012. As a reply the governorate gave a negative reply on the grounds that the governor was attacked and has been resting in the hotel.
3-Uludere District Gendarmerie Headquarters: On 30 December 2011 a fax message had been sent from MAZLUMDER General Centre and called on 02 January 2012. As a reply they told the commission that they won’t meet with the commission.
4-Şırnak Governorate: The members of the commission also made written application to Şırnak Governorate as in the relations with other official institutions, with a fax message sent from the General Centre of the MAZLUMDER on 30 December 2011. Also an authorised correspondent could not be found in the Governorate when called from the MAZLUMDER’s General Centre.

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