Monumental tomb in Van named after German activist Andrea Wolf

A monumental tomb has been constructed in the village of Andiçen (Kelahêrê) in Van’s Çatak district for 24 PKK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party) militants who were murdered and buried there by the Turkish army in a massacre on 23rd October 1998.

A ceremony was held for the opening of the monumental tomb which has been named after Ronahi, the code name of PKK guerrilla of German origins, national human rights activist and sociologist Andrea Wolf, who was among the PKK militants buried in the mass grave discovered by IHD (Human Rights Association) personnel in the spring of 2011. The bones of musician Hozan Hogir who joined the guerrilla in 1998 and died in the same year were also found in the mass grave here.

The opening ceremony for the monumental tomb was joined by a number of people including BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) executives and representatives of non-governmental organizations.

Following one minute’s silence for all those who sacrificed their life in the liberation struggle, hundreds of people in the village marched to the monumental tomb chanting the slogan „Şehîd namirin“ [Martyrs are immortal] and carrying the photographs of PKK Leader Abdullah Öcalan, Sakine Cansız, Mahsum Korkmaz (Agît) and Andrea Wolf.

The monumental tomb was covered with a huge flag of the PKK and photographs of Öcalan and Ronahi, with a writing on it reading; „Wê riha xwe ya şîrîn di ber gelê kurd de da. Heya ev gel hebe dê minetarê wê be“ [A divine life dedicated to the Kurdish people who will remain grateful to her as long as they live].

The opening was followed by the speeches of MEYA-DER Van Branch Chair Salih Kaplan and BDP Van provincial co-chair Figen Yaşar who underlined that „It is thanks to leader Apo (Öcalan), Ronahi and her comrades that Kurds have come to these days“.

Three HPG (People’s Defense Forces) guerrillas have also arrived at the scene as the opening ceremony continued. Speaking here, one of the Kurdish guerrillas said that; „Following their leader Apo (Öcalan), Kurdish youths have given a struggle for years now to stay stop to the dirty policies against the Kurdish people. Our martyrs are our greatest values. Our comrade Andrea Wolf is a manifestation of the diversity and internationality of the Kurdish movement. She was murdered by the enemy, and in a way that went completely against war ethics. With the construction of the monumental tomb named after Andrea, we want our comrade to know that we will never forget her“.

Şerif Fırat, an eye-witness of Wolf’s execution and the guerrillas commander at the time, said in an interview to ANF in May 2012 that he was ready to tell all details of Andrea Wolf’s execution in the event of Turkey’s trial at the international court of justice for the crimes against humanity it has committed. “It was her internationalist view that made comrade Ronahi join the ranks of PKK. Her determination to be a true PKK guerrilla as a whole made her comrades respect her”, said Fırat about the German national human rights activist and sociologist Wolf.

Fırat, remarking that he is one of the four eye-witnesses of Ronahi’s extrajudicial execution, pointed out that Ronahi lost her life in the process of severe clashes and very intense military activity in the region in 1998. Fırat said that “Almost all our comrades in this area, where the operations of the Turkish army were centered upon, were involved in severe and long-lasting clashes. Ronahi was taken prisoner by soldiers near Keleş village of Van following a clash which lasted from early morning till night hours. Many guerrillas lost their life in this clash which broke out in an area very close to us. By listening to the radios of soldiers, we were following the discussions on whether to kill Ronahi or take her away alive. After ten minutes of discussions, one commander ordered soldiers ‘not to do the same as before’, referring to another German guerrilla Eva Yunke who had been taken prisoner at an earlier date. They soon after executed Ronahi because they ‘didn’t want to get in trouble once again’. However, Ronahi’s execution was reflected to the media as if she had been captured dead in a clash. This is an absolute lie as she was not shot during the clash. She was taken captured and executed extrajudicially.”

According to information gathered to date, in 1998 the German internationalist Andrea Wolf in the Kurdish women’s army (YAJK), together with her Kurdish comrades, were taken prisoner by the Turkish army following a skirmish in this area. According to witnesses’ statements, as an unarmed prisoner, she was tortured and extralegally executed along with at least two other combatants – the victims’ corpses were subsequently further abused and mutilated.

Dozens of combatants were apparently murdered in the skirmish and the following massacre.
The execution by shooting of the defenceless prisoners confirms the elements of the offence as murder according to international law. The killing of already disarmed prisoners – as well as those unable to fight – is a blatant contravention against all criteria of international law and, according to the Geneva Convention, a war crime – and this is equally true for the torture of prisoners. This applies equally to the systematically applied methods of sexual torture used by the Turkish army, which officers in particular learn in the training camps of western secret services as a means of subjugation, humiliation, power-demonstration, destruction and debasement of women, but also of men, which does not yield to the containment of state-legitimised oppression. War crimes also include the utilization of poison gas by the Turkish military against combatants of the Kurdish guerrilla and against the civilian population, which took place, and still occur today, according to independent research.

Since July 2011, together with the mother of – and the circle of friends of – Andrea Wolf, members of the families of those killed as well as the International Independent Committee of Inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Andrea Wolf and further combatants (IUK) therefore demand the tracing and prosecution of the perpetrators.

In this connection, in a case at the European Court of Human Rights, the Turkish government has already been convicted in June 2010, because until now a constitutional clarification of the massacre was systematically prevented: “The sentence is a resounding slap in the face for the Turkish state. Now, finally, those of the military responsible for torturing and intentionally killing Andrea Wolf must be traced and brought to justice. We therefore demand of the office of public prosecution in Frankfurt, to once again commence investigations into the Andrea Wolf case, to question surviving witnesses of this war crime, and together with the IUK – to prepare the opening of the grave of Andrea Wolf as well as a post-mortem examination by means of international forensic scientists. In addition, we shall submit further proof”, explained lawyer Angelika Lex – who represents the mother of Andrea Wolf and the IUK – on 8th September 2010 on the occasion of a press conference for the judgement. However, up until now, the responsible public prosecutor in Frankfurter refuses to recommence proceedings in the Andrea Wolf case despite the availability of new witnesses and evidence. Other German authorities, including for instance the foreign office have, to date, drawn no consequences whatsoever from the judgement against the Turkish state – for 15 years, they have been idle – or at least they have refused every initiative regarding clarification of the massacre.

The human rights organization IHD assists in cases of processing and prosecution of breaches of human rights, provides help in the search for the dead and disappeared relatives, compiles statements of witnesses and endeavours to protect them: A difficult task in a dirty war, such as is orchestrated in Kurdistan under the gaze of the global public with the approval and military support – particularly that of the German government – as well as of German security services, secret services and armaments industries. With as much as 14 percent, Turkey is the largest customer of military equipment from the German economy. Today, Germany is the world’s third- largest armaments exporter after the USA and Russia. On 1st May 1997 Andrea Wolf wrote from the mountains of Kurdistan that this was the reason why she would wish for a strong movement in the cities, which could cut back these continuous military supplies as well as the deliveries of military equipment to the Turkish military. The international delegation explicitly regards its visit as an act of international solidarity and as local support for human rights work with the aim of a comprehensive processing of war crimes in the Turkish-Kurdish conflict as a basis for future peace in the region.


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