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Roboski, six years ago

On the night of 28 December 2011, Turkish Armed Forces‘ warplanes bombed an area on the border with Southern Kurdistan (Iraqi Kurdistan). The bombs killed 34 mostly young men on their way back from the Iraqi border they had crossed for „Border Trade“.

On the night of 28 December 2011, Turkish Armed Forces‘ warplanes bombed an area on the border with Southern Kurdistan (Iraqi Kurdistan). The bombs killed 34 mostly young men on their way back from the Iraqi border they had crossed for „Border Trade“ from the villages of Gülyazı (Bejuh) and Ortasu (Roboskî) in Şırnak’s (Şirnex) Uludere (Qileban) district.

The 34 victims were mostly belonging to the same families.

The villages of Roboskî and Bejuh were formed in 90’s, when scores of people who were driven away from their evacuated villages, settled here near their relatives after their own lands and villages were evacuated by security forces of the Turkish Republic State.

The Turkish state laid mines across the lands around villages, which claimed the life of five people and left more than 20 others cripple so far. It would be hard to estimate the number of animals killed in mine explosions.

What is called „trade border“, „caravan“, „boundary“ and what the state and its supporters call „smuggling“ is the only opportunity for the people there to earn their living. They do not call it „smuggling“ for the people here have never recognized the borders that relevant authorities imposed on them. They have been involved in „smuggling“ since the time of their grandfathers as they have always had families, relatives or fields in Iraq, on the „other side“ of the „border“. As a matter of fact, there is no physical border in question, at the borderline there is only a stone with number 15 carved on it.

On these „national“ lands, the remainder of an empire which expanded to three continents, people have been living social traumas beyond the empire’s habitat. People are living with the trauma of a history of big massacres from Armenian Genocide to Dersim Genocide, from events of 6-7 September to military coups, from Çorum and Mamak Massacres to Madımak Massacre, from the 28 February Massacre in the village of Zanqirt (Bilge) to that in the village of Roboski. That deplorable massacre which went down in history as „Roboski Massacre“ is a ring of this trauma chain.

In the evening of 28 December 2011, a group of people from the village went to do what they would normally do, „border trade“. They went as usual within the knowledge and sight of local military units which had already emptied all military sites in the region and smoothed the way for border traders one month before the massacre took place. According to Murat Karayılan, KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union) Executive Council President, the area where the bombardment was carried out, has never been used by the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) since 1991 for the very smooth feature of the area.

On their way back from the border, the people in the group saw that soldiers had closed all three alternative ways to the village. They were subjected to a warning shot and artillery fire without being warned to stop. Ubeydullah Encü, father of 13 years-old Muhammed Encü who also lost his life that night, told that he had called the commander at the military post near the village and informed him that a group of people, including his child, was in the mentioned area. The commander told Encü that he knew about the people there and replied that they just fired a warning shot for intimidation. However, things didn‘t work that way and their children were targeted by the bombs of F-16 warplanes.

The villagers who rushed to the scene after the bombardment tell that 13 people were still alive and the bodies of others were still burning when they reached there. These people who on the way encountered soldiers returning from the region on order had to carry the wounded survivors with their own efforts as no officials went to the scene despite the fact that they had informed all authorities soon after the incident. Soldiers in the nearby military posts denied health care teams from Şırnak permission to go to the scene as the bodies of victims and the injured were being taken away from there. „We gathered the parts of their bodies and tried to take them to our village in the saddles of donkeys that survived the bombardment.“ All villagers who were there that day know that many of the wounded bled and/or freeze to death. 17 out of 34 victims were children aged under 18. Anyone who visits the village once can apparently see what sort of a trauma it has caused. The people in the village have been suffering from psychological depression since that day, six years ago.

This indisputably newsworthy tragic event was however not reported by the Turkish media for more than 12 hours, while some of the very few who wanted to report it were hindered by their directors. As state authorities started to make official statements on the massacre, the media resorted to euphemism and reported it under the title „incident near Iraqi border“. The debates in the following days didn‘t go beyond asking „whether the victims were smugglers or terrorists“ and „whether the incident was an accident, a negligence or a trap“.

The western side of Turkey’s society organized all night long new year celebrations three days later, as if there had been no massacre, while people in Roboski went through a sorrowful night after seeing the bodies of their beloved brothers and sons blown to pieces.

By extending thanks to the Chief of Defence and military command echelon for the „sensitivity they displayed“ after the massacre, the then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gave the sign of the attitude the state would have from then on.

According to the testimony of villagers, the Turkish authorities who didn‘t allow ambulances and helicopters to go to the scene on the night of the massacre sent a team to the scene one day later and made it gather all remains (parts of people’s and donkey’s bodies) in the area and set them on fire, obfuscated the evidences in other words. The Prosecutor who described the massacre as a mistake and promised not to arrest anyone had a team investigate the crime scene with a helicopter from the air and wrote on the reports that „they saw nothing“ at the scene.

The process progressed so imprecisely that even the names and numbers of victims were wrongly recorded on autopsy reports and therefore on the reports of Human Rights Organizations that grounded their information on these reports. Following a series of reporting works in the village soon after the incident, establishments such as MAZLUMDER, Human Rights Association (IHD), Diyarbakır Bar Association, Confederation of Public Workers‘ Union (KESK) and Justice Platform for Brotherhood (KİAP) agreed that the incident was indeed a „massacre“.

That night, as Ferhat Encü, brother of one of the victims and an MP for HDP, puts it: „The state became a bomb and rained on us from the air, making our children and relatives totally shocked about what was going on. The state which spilt out death and left us alone with our dead relatives furthermore uttered threats after the massacre and tried to prevent us from burying the victims side by side“. [ ANF ]

Stories of Roboski victims

The pain is still fresh in Roboskî and the smiles are still partial. The walls with photographs of the deceased are decorated as if to complete the lives that are lacking.

On December 28, 2011, 34 people from Roboskî and Bujeh villages in Şırnak’s Uludere district, 28 of them from the same family, were murdered by the bombs from Turkish jet fighters.

At the sixth anniversary of the massacre, the perpetrators are still left in the dark. At a time when deaths are reduced to mere numbers, we in the ANF would like to remind everyone of the people who were murdered in Roboskî and their stories.


Şerafettin Encü was born in the green valley that is the embrace between Beyaztepe and Mount Düğün on a summer’s day. He is the eldest in a family of 7 children. Şerafettin grew up in poverty, and was orphaned when he lost his mother when he was 12. He did so well in school that his teachers were proud of him. He had dreams beyond his years. He wanted to be a teacher with many many students, or a principal for a village school with a playground. He wanted to raise new life. He was young but his dreams were as big as his heart. Şerafettin was the proud son of a poor family. He left his childhood behind and started dealing in border trade with his father to take care of his six brothers. The story of 18 years old Şerafettin, born on a summer’s day, ended on a smuggling route on a winter’s day. The snow turned red with the blood of Şerafettin the Orphan, one teenager among 34 people.


Second of nine siblings, the first boy, Şirvan Encü was 19 years old. He loved sleep, so he wasn’t all that into school. He dreamed of being a truck driver like his father. He was the apple of his father’s eye, and was told constantly that “driving a truck is taking on long distances, you can’t do it if you love sleeping. You have to give up on your sleep or driving.” Şirvan gave up both. One morning when his father wasn’t home, he pushed hard and convinced his mother to go on the border trade with his cousin Nevzat. Şirvan had a soulful voice, and sang klams (ballad) to his companions all the way through. He was one of the 34 people massacred in that night with the white earth and the black skies. His mother says, “I still hear his voice in my head”.


Newly turned 20, Fadıl Encü was the eldest in a family of 8 children. He lived a life of poverty with his family, so he took on the border trade to maybe enable the dreams of his 7 siblings. When his father was in the army, the family went through a hard time when he fell ill. Just for that, every time he left for work, he somberly said farewell to his mother and his family. The villagers described him as very humble and genial. He still had the football jersey on him from the football match they held among friends before going out for trade. He took the road with his friends Celal and Serhat, as if going to a wedding. In the pitch black night, the colors of his jersey disappeared. His 20 year old young body was so deformed that his father walked across his body four times before he recognized him.


His family lived abroad for a long time, but returned to Roboskî eventually because they wer too homesick. His father loved Vedat Aydın so much that he named him after him. Vedat was 17 and his favorite topic in school was math, he held on to math because his mother tongue isn’t recognized in schools – you don’t need language to solve math problems. He thought of himself as the doctor character in Apê Musa’s Brina Reş novel. The son of a poor but proud family, Vedat wanted to be a doctor just like the character in the book. He would go on to be a great man, and take care of his mother and siblings so well. He was murdered along with 34 people in that fateful night.


He was the youngest in a big, poor and grieving family. 13 year old Orhan was a joker, a cheerful boy and the source of joy in the home. He was very smart, so he started school early. He always had good grades. Ten months earlier, he had lost his mother. Orhan wanted to be a computer engineer and started going on border trade with his brother Zeydan to buy a computer. He loved nature and animals and kept a few puppies in the front yard of their home. His dogs ran to the field of death alongside his father when the news broke in the dark night. He and his brother Zeydan were two out of the 34.


Şivan Encü was orphaned at a young age. He searched for his mother’s scent in dreams for years. And then three years earlier, he found out his mother was alive and came to Roboskî to be with his mother and siblings. Şivan became the eldest male in a family with 4 children. He supported his family for three years, working as a shepherd, a porter, a digger, or a smuggler – whatever he could find. One day he came home after working the full day as a shepherd for 15 liras, tired and his hands, nose and ears frostbitten. Before he could rest, his cousin Berdan came: “Come on!” They took to the smuggling path. On their way back, bombs bigger than them were dropped on them.


Zeydan was a child of a big and poor family. He was only able to study until high school. He did all he could so his brother Orhan could study. He was a porter, a field hand and a smuggler. As if smuggling and poverty are fate for that land, he never was able to let go of the mule’s leash. He looked tough, and had the softest heart. Shortly after he returned from the army, he lost his sick mom. He took the smuggling path that night so his brother Orhan wouldn’t have to delay his dream of a computer any longer. All he wanted that night was to take his brother back home safe and lie down next to the roaring hearth. But he couldn’t – both brothers died under the bombs.


Özcan was 19 and he was a fan of Ahmet Kaya. He loved the herbed cheese, the smuggled tea and all soulful strans. His cousin was to get married after the smuggling, he was preparing for that in his last days. He never returned from the border. Everybody who knew him knew he wanted to get married.


Osman got married in 1999, and had 3 boys and 2 girls between ages 5 and 11. He started going to the border in 2002. Every time he went, his wife Pakize and his children waited up for him. His 5-year-old still thinks he’s out in Şırnak, buying some things for the house. Pakize wasn’t told what happened at first. But when people couldn’t identify the bodies, they called her and asked what kind of clothes and shoes Osman was wearing that day. That was how Osman’s wife and children learned he was dead.


Nadir was the second child of a family with 13 children. Their life was also one of poverty. Nadir always had the seat of honor at the family table. He was shy and simple. His best friend’s name was Hikmet. The two carried all the weight of the family. The only thing they could do in Roboskî was to go out smuggling.

That night the mules were once more loaded with poverty and hope. Nadir had two brothers in the army and they had no money. He needed pocket money for them, and some supplies for the home. Then it would be time for him to get married, like his mother wanted for so long. Held up by poverty and fatigue, his body fell on the snow like so many shooting stars.


Salih was born in a family of 7. He was barely 18, he went to border so his two brothers could go to school. His family was also poor, like the others. Salih’s father had stepped on a mine 14 years ago, which left him disabled. His father’s medical bills and the family’s living costs in general were all Salih’s responsibility.

He had followed his 37 friends. They marched toward the 38 bombs together. They were caught in the light his friends spoke of together.

“Everybody’s fathers were there, except for mine. That was one time in the parent-teacher meeting in the school. I had forgotten that day, just like this day. My father had one leg, he couldn’t come all that way.”


Seyithan Enç was born in 1990. He used to do very well in school. He had gone to Istanbul to work, but couldn’t stay there too long and returned to his village. He had a girlfriend in the next village. When her family pushed that he complete his military service before they can get married, he left for the army. Seyithan meant to get married when he came back, but there was no money and no chance. Now, all that’s left of him are some kind words, one photograph, broken dreams and a mother and siblings all with their heads down.


Muhammed was the eldest son and the brother of 13 people. His family was also poor like the others.

He dreamed of becoming a vet. He loved the animals his father kept, especially the mules because they looked like horses. His biggest dream was to get a horse.

He was heartbroken when animals in the village injured themselves, and he did everything he could to treat them. He wanted to be a vet for the animals in the village, because he was affected deeply when they died of diseases in the winter.


Cihan was one out of the six boys in a family of 7 children. He was murdered 3 days before his birthday. He used to love school, but had had to quit before highschool.

There was a tumor in his father’s brain and it was getting worse. Hospitals, doctors, tests, drugs… went on for 3 years, he was unable to get out of bed in the last year of his life.

Cihan turned 15 without a father. Then he lost his mother in a traffic accident. Cihan was left an orphan, with his brothers and sister. Cihan was left fatherless at 15, motherless at 18, and he was buried before he turned 20.


Selman was the youngest of six siblings. He was orphaned in the womb and his troubles started early. From the day he came into the world, he felt the loss of his father in his heart.

Surviving the ’90s meant either migrating from Roboskî or staying and becoming a village guard. Migration was a thousand-fold anguish. Even worse for a family without a father. So they couldn’t go. They became village guards.

Selman’s first daughter Esra was born with a mental disability. Around the same time his wife fell ill, she could barely walk.

He had built a home for the family, and he had some debts. What happens to people there who have debts happened to him too, soon he was taking off for the border.

A disabled mother with a child in her lap, two children with mental disabilities, and 11 year old Ersin were left out in the cold after Selman Encü was murdered.

Ersin was in the 4th grade. He quit school after the incident, he kept on running back home.


Mehmet Ali was born in 1987 in Roboskî’s sister village Gülyazı. He was the second among 11 children. Eleven siblings means eleven times the hope: If you fall short, there are ten others to cover up for you. After highschool, he couldn’t continue. He took to the border route to look after his family. Then the fateful day came. Mehmet Ali spoke on the phone with his father that day, he himself wasn’t home. He followed Nevzat, Şervan and Osman into his last journey.


Erkan’s father was a village guard, he stepped on a mine and lost both of his eyes. Erkan was only at the 7th grade. He dreamt of becoming a doctor to fix his father’s eyes.

They had a football team, they named it Kartal (Eagle) Sports. Their jerseys were black, red and white, newly made. Erkan had the number 4.

The money his father made from the state wasn’t enough. He used to insist for permission to go smuggling.

That night was Erkan’s second time smuggling, along with two of his uncles. One of them, Hüsnü who passed away longing for his unborn baby. The other uncle was Savaş, they were the same age. His mother made him wear two pairs of gloves so his hands wouldn’t get cold.


Savaş was one of 11 orphans. He was only just realizing he had been born in a war zone, and had hoped maybe he could change his name, which means “war” in Turkish, after the fate of these lands changed.

The poverty that killed so many dreams didn’t let Savaş go either. He had to quit school in 2010.

His brother Vahit had bought him a pair of gloves that day, so he wouldn’t be cold. He put them on and took the road following the 34. It’s not easy to go for the border in winter, especially when it’s snowy and muddy.


Karker was a shepherd, an apprentice and a smuggler. What he has in common with the others is poverty. He left the village to work, but being away was too much for him and he returned home. He couldn’t return from the border he left for either. We don’t know much about him. But the mourning he left behind is heavy.


He was one of the last to be buried. His story is also filled with poverty and suffering. He didn’t even have a photograph.


19 year old Nevzat and his father bore the weight of a household on their shoulders.

He had one more year in school, then he was hoping to get into a good department in a good university. He wanted to learn a good profession to provide his family with a good life.

The weight of poverty and misery falls early on shoulders. Among the 34, there were those who should have listened to a bedtime story and slept. Five of them were 13 year old boys.


Mahsun was one of the people who made a living out of the border, which was defined by a single stone.

He was 17. His dreams were also cut short. He wanted to be a doctor because there were no doctors in the village clinic.


Bilal was the eldest of 7 siblings. He was 16. He carried the weight of the household. Bilal’s father was blind, so he was everything to the family. He also wanted to be a doctor, because the closest doctor was 60 km from the village. He loved football and he played very well. He liked watering the saplings he planted in his garden. He spoke to his trees. He told them all of his secrets. When he left, one sack on his mule was filled with poverty and the other with hope.


Hüsnü was one of those who made a living out of the border. He was born in 1981 as the 4th child of a family of 11 children. He was killed together with his brother. He left behind a family he used to take care of and his incomplete story.


Serhat was the third child in his family. He quit school after one year in highschool and supported his brothers in university. His mother never slept whenever he left for the border and waited for him to return. He went that day with his best friend Celal. The two best friends never returned from that trip.


Celal was 12 years old. He was the youngest in a poor family of 6. He had lost his mother 5 years earlier. Due to the economic circumstances of his family, he could only study until the 8th grade, and then he started dealing in border trade to take care of his family. He loved playing football.


Hüseyin was born in 1991. He was the eldest child in the family. As he was older than his siblings, he started working alongside his father. Even though he worked, he managed to finish high school. He took on all the responsibility so his brothers wouldn’t have to go smuggling. The whole household stood up to wait for him when he left for the border.


Cemal was born on a cold night in 1994. He was 17 when he was murdered. They were poor, so he started smuggling when he was in high school. He looked after his family and covered his expenses for the school. He went to the border that day to pay his debts to the school’s cafeteria. His mother couldn’t walk too well, but she ran to the spot when she heard the bombs.


Salih was only 16. He was one of the 34 who fought for his life for five hours and lost, in the dark of the night and the cold winter of the mountains. He was a senior in high school. He wanted to go to a university. He knew he had to study hard to return to his village as a doctor.


His father was in an accident and wasn’t able to work, so Yüksel had to quit high school in his first year. He had a family of 8. He went to the border, come hell or high water, to look after his family. He was young, like the others. And he was poor, like the others.


Bedran was the eldest in a family with 9 children. He was 13. He was in the 8th grade. He wanted to be a lawyer, but he was also aware of his family’s poverty and so he started smuggling to cover his expenses. He was with his cousin Şivan that night.

His father found a torn 20 lira bill and a piece of cake in his pockets. He looked for his son’s legs for days, but couldn’t find them.


Adem was the eldest child in a family of 12. Like the others, he shouldered all the weight. His father had had operations in both his eyes so Adem had to go smuggling.

He was engaged. He was to move to Şırnak centrum when he got married. He was planning on saving up and having a wedding in the summer. He had been shot in another trip to the border and his fiancee had forbidden him to go again, but the poverty forced him to.


Selam was the eldest in the family. He was introverted and shy. He had an associate’s degree in construction and was studying to continue to civil engineering. When he asked for money for the application, his father told him to “wait a little”, which is how people of Roboskî say they don’t have it. He started going to the border for the exam fee. He was murdered before he turned 23.


Aslan’s brother who used to go to the border before him stepped on a mine and lost a limb, so Aslan had to take care of the 10 siblings. He was to take care of his family and renew his brother’s worn out prosthetic leg. He loved partridges. He was always telling his mother to give them enough water.


Hamza’s common trait with the others was poverty. He had started early, and was 24 years old. He couldn’t go to school, but he was trying hard so his brothers could study. His family received only one of his arms and one leg. His mother got back 10 kilos from her big and strong Hamza. 70 kilos of his body were scattered in the Roboskî mountains. His mother says her prayers to the mountains now.


Yılmaz was a deputy operator, the chief dancer in weddings, and the most handsome in the village. He was 36. He was from Roboskî. Same time, same place: Border Stone No.15, 21:40. That was the exact place fire rained down on the 34. If justice had been served, the second Roboskî massacre wouldn’t have happened.


Vedat was the second among 10 children in his family. It was his second year in high school. He was also very poor. He used to play football really well, and dreamed of becoming a doctor for the doctorless clinic in the village. He took offense at the empty building. He dreamed of becoming a doctor from Roboskî and both inspire children to become doctors, lawyers, teachers and he would help them.

6 of his close relatives were murdered in the same place, at the same time on December 28, 2011. His teachers brought a trophy and medal he was supposed to receive from school to his wake, they had thought to give them to him along with his report card. [ ANF ]


The Roboski Massacre

300 ISIS members are hiding out in Turkey

British The Times newspaper published an article that claims some 300 people who joined ISIS from the UK are hiding out in Turkey

British newspaper The Times has ISIS members hiding out in Turkey on its front page today. The article signed by Anthony Loyd, Michael Evans and Fiona Hamilton includes some striking information.

According to The Times, thousands of gang members have fled to Turkey after Raqqa and Mosul were liberated from ISIS. Some 300 of those who fled were ISIS members from the UK.

The article states that Western intelligence agencies are concerned about possible ISIS attacks.

The article bases the information on Rojava intelligence sources and British security sources.

The article states that there are many European citizens among ISIS members in detention centres and prisons, half of some 850 British citizens who headed out to join ISIS have returned and 130 of them have died.


Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Wir wünschen allen eine frohe Weihnachtszeit und alles Gute im neuen Jahr.

We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!


Wir wünschen euch allen ein friedvolles Chanukka-Fest

Happy Hanukkah

Erdogan Israel als „Terrorstaat“ bezeichnet

In der Krise um die Anerkennung Jerusalems durch die USA hat der türkische Staatspräsident Erdogan Israel als „Terrorstaat“ bezeichnet.

Türkischer Staatsterror gegen die Kurden

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