[Photo of the week] Uludere massacre report draws anger, protests

The adoption of a parliamentary report by a commission on Wednesday on the subject of the Dec. 28, 2011, Uludere air strike that killed 34 civilians has caused outrage among the families of the victims as well as opposition politicians and various civil society groups.

Thirty-four men were traveling back to their villages in Şirnak’s Uludere district from cities in northern Iraq after a day of trading in late 2011 when Turkish jets bombed the border-crossers, later saying the commanders mistook them for Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorists. A sub-commission of the Human Rights Investigation commission later released a report, saying no particular person or agency was responsible for the air strike order and referring to the attack as an “accident.” That report was approved by the higher commission on Wednesday, which families and civil society groups say is an overt cover-up attempt. Both the government and senior military officials are responsible, critics say. Critics also note that the military has failed to provide evidence for its claim that the smugglers were mistaken for PKK terrorists, as experts who examined images taken from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on the day of the attack say this is extremely unlikely.

Families of the victims were in front of the Turkish Parliament on Thursday, where they staged a protest supported by Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies Hasip Kaplan, Ibrahim Binici and Ertugrul Kurkçu. The group wanted to enter the Parliament grounds through a gate on the Dikmen side, but police prevented them from doing so. The crowd threw their ID cards to the ground in protest of official claims of equal citizenship and chanted slogans. “The killer state will answer!” the protesters shouted.

A spokesperson for the group, Veli Encu, said their relatives were killed in a planned and intentional way. He also claimed that 13 of the attack victims died not at the scene but from heavy blood loss caused by officials preventing rescue attempts. He also said the commission’s Uludere report was a “report of shame.”