The mainstream media, in particular, again failed to question the grave mistakes possibly being made by the security forces. Though rare, there has been some media coverage as well that raised possible security flaws on the part of the security forces in last week's incident, which resulted in the deaths of 13 Turkish soldiers and seven PKK militants. The clashes took place in Silvan, Diyarbakır province.
This past weekend witnessed nationwide protests against the PKK, with some voices being heard condemning terrorism. But those protests widely took the form of provocations under the guise of displaying sorrow over the death of Turkish soldiers. Some placards carried during protests read “Freedom for Silivri and Hasdal.” Silivri and Hasdal are prisons holding alleged coup plotters, the majority of whom are active and retired officers, including generals.
Provocateurs have been using this grave incident of the death of 13 soldiers as a reason for a kind of amnesty for the suspects of coup plots. None of the protesters were heard shouting slogans seeking the state in general and the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in particular to come up with an investigation that would disclose the reason for the deaths of so many people.
It was only in 2009 that Turkish media became encouraged to question the possible security flaws of the TSK in the fight against the PKK. Thanks to the liberal Taraf daily, an awareness was created in the media by ending cliché reporting over the ongoing war between the PKK and the security forces. The cliché reporting was based on condemning the PKK each time while running the pictures of the fallen soldiers' loved ones during their funeral ceremonies. Such reporting has so far failed to alert the state to find ways in which the terror problem can be reduced, if not eliminated, through radical policies such as seeking political solutions rather than continuously resorting to arms.
Taraf began breaking taboos when it ran stories in 2009 supported by video evidence showing the PKK's attacks on the Aktütün and Dağlıca military outposts had occurred, killing 18 soldiers, as a result of TSK negligence.
Two generals are currently being tried by an Ankara military court on charges of being responsible for the deaths of seven soldiers who died in explosions of mines the military itself is said to have planted.
In the past, such incidents would have been covered up and the families of the fallen soldiers could not have dared blame any security flaws for the deaths of their sons.
Yet media coverage in general, such as in the latest incident in Silvan, fell short of ensuring common sense prevails in the face of the latest incident. Mainstream media was once again engaged in the psychological warfare of the TSK.
Only one or two papers quoted the father of a dead soldier, Ufuk Başarı. The father blamed the Turkish officers for the soldiers' deaths during what the military reported as a PKK ambush because, he said, the soldiers were sent to fight against the PKK as if they were helpless sheep.
Soldier Ahmet Önder, wounded during the clashes, was quoted by the Star daily last Sunday as saying: “It was very hot and we were very tired. They attacked us when we were asleep.”
All these bits of information brought together point to serious negligence and a lack of intelligence on the part of the security forces in the way they have been fighting against terrorism.
While the security forces' negligence had already become apparent in many clashes with the PKK, resulting in many deaths and injuries, it is shameful that a strong resolve has not emerged on the part of elected politicians to end this traumatic situation and on the part of the judiciary to open investigations.
The TSK is in need of political guidance in its fight against terrorism, and it should be put in a position where it would be responsible to clarify any allegations of negligence.