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May 24, 2012, Thursday

Uludere in all its urgency…

We lost 34 of our own citizens as the result of Turkish jets bombing the Turkish-Iraqi border area in Şırnak's Uludere on the night of Dec. 28, 2011. In a column I wrote six days after the incident, I said: “What we face here is a huge disaster, a terrible tragedy.

Condolences to the entire nation. The pain of this incident belongs to our entire nation of people, whose trials never seem to end. We are losing our soldiers in fields, on mountains, in police stations. We are losing our youth, young people who are getting turned into ‘guerillas,' dragging them onto mountainous paths they do not know, and mixing them up in deaths and the other affairs connected to divisionary tactics. And the fight into which they are being dragged is actually a fight between brothers.”

Later, after a public statement from Bülent Arınç, who voiced the possibility that the smugglers might have been guided by others in their actions, and that the entire incident might have been a trap, I asked the following question: “If we are talking about a trap, who set the trap? Who was it that misled the armed forces into believing that this group of smugglers was in fact a heavily armed group of Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants crossing the border area? Who was behind this game?”

My own answer had two parts to it:

“First of all, the power centers still standing strong within the deeper structure of the nation are uncomfortable with the steps taken towards solving the Kurdish problem. These are power centers that have become accustomed to directing the country via terror. And so, there is a plan at hand to weaken the struggle against terror, just as a new democratic initiative enters the national agenda. In this way, both the civilian constitution and the general road towards democracy are dynamited. Their real aim is to put the current elected government into a difficult position, using the only trump card they hold in their hands, that of PKK terror.”

“Second, a kiss of life is being planted via cooperation from within and without onto the PKK, which has lately experienced many serious casualties, and has lost much power. Let us recall what Selahattin Demirtaş said as the bodies were being laid to rest in the ground: ‘Today we see a country divided. I am now sure of this. You can kill 50,000 times, over and over, but the name of these lands is still Kurdistan.' These are the words of someone who lurks in ambush, waiting for a chance to exploit…”

And here is how I concluded that column:

“One day, the truth about what really happened in Uludere will emerge. What falls to the government today is to see that the error of moving with great slowness -- as happened when the incident first occurred -- does not happen again. If both the government and the justice system move quickly, many things could be turned around…”

Unfortunately, however, these problems I mentioned five months ago -- the slow-moving nature of the government and justice system -- continue on today. I even have concerns about whether the government truly understands the severity and terrible ramifications of what happened in Uludere. The stance taken by Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin on this matter, in particular, has shaken me.

Personally, I view the Uludere incident as the greatest fracture line for both the government and any possible solution to the Kurdish problem there might be. There is an aim afoot to see the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) hit where it would hurt the most and to bring great failure to the struggle against terror. The situation is truly terrible and there is an urgent need for moves that will bring solutions.

It is an unspeakably horrible situation when our own jets kill 34 of our own citizens. And bringing in the issue of smuggling into the situation is as mistaken a tactic as hiding behind empty excuses. We will not be able to take the right steps in this situation until we are able to feel the pain of what occurred in Uludere in our bones. If one should apologize to someone who one bumps into accidentally on the sidewalk, how it is that we are trying to avoid apologizing in this situation? There is such a great need for some sincere apologies right about now. Another factor to consider is that those responsible for this terrible event must be tried in a court of law.

In the meantime, the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP)-PKK axis continues to use this event as propaganda for the rhetoric that “this is how the state behaves when the dead are all Kurdish, and so there can be no solution until we establish a Kurdistan.” These efforts must be undermined. The most urgent bit of work facing the government today is to embrace the wounded hearts of Uludere and to illuminate the true nature of the Uludere trap that was set. In a parliamentary meeting on Jan. 24, 2012, the prime minister had this to say about the matter: “We will absolutely never allow either the Uludere affair or the Hrant Dink murder to become lost in the deep corridors of the state.” And while I do believe this promise, I am just trying to underscore the urgency of the situation.

Previous articles of the columnist