PM’s wife visits relatives of airstrike victims

The prime minister’s wife, Emine, visited southeastern Şırnak’s Uludere district, where 34 civilians were killed in a military airstrike, to offer her condolences to the victims’ families. (PHOTO AA, YASİN BÜLBÜL)

March 11, 2012, Sunday/ 13:17:00

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s wife, Emine Erdoğan, traveled on Tuesday to Uludere to meet with relatives of the victims of a deadly airstrike by Turkish fighter jets in December along the Turkish-Iraqi border.

The victims of the airstrike were killed on Dec. 27 as they were crossing the border from northern Iraq back into Turkey, having purchased goods to resell. They were all from different villages of Uludere, or Roboski in Kurdish, a district in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern province of Şırnak.

The Turkish military said it had mistaken the group for terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants. An investigation is still under way into what caused the tragic mix-up.

The prime minister’s wife was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay and Family and Social Policy Minister Fatma Şahin. Erdoğan first arrived at Mardin Airport where she was welcomed by Mardin Governor Turhan Ayvaz before heading to the village of Gülyazı in Uludere via military helicopter. She then offered her condolences to the men gathered in the village and visited the muhtar’s (village official) home, where the Quran was recited by the local mufti.

“I would like to scream to the world from here that we are all siblings, we are all one. We are one and we are together. Nobody can separate us; nobody can divide us,” the prime minister’s wife said to journalists a day after meeting with the families. She said the government is determined to pursue the Uludere incident until everyone at fault is named and punished.

Erdoğan met with the mothers of some of the victims during her visit. She said of the meeting, “It was a meeting of mothers, because only a mother can understand the pain of a mother. Nobody else can.”

She noted that the families in the region completely trust the government. “They trust us; they hope we have the solution.”

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