Interview: Ferhat Encu – Roboski massacre

Earning money for a living is not easy in the Roboski town. Villagers of Roboski go into fields surrounded with landmines, which caused many to lose their lives in the fields covered with landmines. Some of them do Cross-border Trade. Some call this smuggling. But what really is smuggling? Is it going cross the border for cigarettes, oil, tea, 1 tin petrol packed on mules or is it spending millions of dollars that belong to hard work of other people in the government desks? For many years villagers have been living on cross-border trade in Roboski.

On December 28th, 2011 34 innocent Kurdish civilians returning from the Iraqi border after a cross border trade were bombed with F16 Fighting Falcons by the Turkish State. 17 of these civilians were under the age of 18. 34 Life’s were ended, 34 houses were covered tears and sorrow.

Ferhat Encu lost 29 of his family members in Roboski massacre.

Were there any changes to the village before the massacre took place?

Yes. 20 days before the massacre military bases was emptied and moved to a safer place away from the border. Going and coming across the border for trade was also made easier.

 Can you briefly explain what happen in the night of the massacre? 

Around 50 villagers left in 3, 4 groups. They saw the Heron’s flying around but this wasn’t an unusual thing in our area. They would never have thought that a massacre was going to take place. It had never happened in the history of our lifetime before. After 3 hours of border trade they started coming back in groups of 10-15. The first group saw the soldiers coming towards them shooting, they then split into 2 groups. Soldiers had blocked the three alternative exit roads and moved away to safer ground. Around 9:30pm the first bombing took place. They bombed a group of 21-22 villagers, then continued to bomb the entire area for 45 minutes. After the bombings soldiers started returning back on command. The villagers started walking to the area of bombings and reported seeing soldiers who were returning back. Villigerd had asked soilders what had happened but were told nothing. When the families reached the area they saw the burnt bodies of their children, brothers and husbands. Some of them were identified by their shoes. From the moment the massacre was carried out these villagers contacted all the local authorities and officials; however no one came to the area where the bombings occurred and villagers were left no choice but to carry the corpses back to the village on their backs. We placed the bodies onto the saddle of mules with our bare hands  and tried to bring them back to the village.

 How did the media, both internationally and in Tukey, react to the event?

While the massacre was on the world news and all over the social network pages, Turkish media was silent for 12 hours.

How is the life in Roboski now?

The people of Roboskî are living a hard life. Because of the massacre many villagers are suffering from psychological problems and they do not receive the support and treatment they need. Houses are covered with sorrow. Since the day of the massacre mothers have been wearing black. Their hearts are still burning as day one. They have prayers in the cemetery every Thursday. Mourning lasts a long time in Roboski. There will be no peace until the people responsible for this massacre are questioned.

What did the government do? What was their reaction?

After the massacre relatives of those massacred were detained and arrested, and some were later released. People are still in fear of being arrested and detained. I have been detained six times so far even when I was openly threatened in front of cameras by the Şırnak City Gendarmerie Regiment Commander Osman Aslan who said my time will come. Even last month my family was threatened with phone calls saying, ‘Tell your son to be quite and stay where he is otherwise his end will be the same’. Officials tell us to be quite, it’s not the first time it had happen in the history, forget about it. They want to cover this up, it is very clear.

What do you think about the report that was presented by the AKP Constitution Commission President Burhan Kuzu?

It is very clear that it’s just a report to cover up everything. The report claimed that the massacre was unintentional and it was an accident. How can military weapon bombing 34 civilians be an accident? Is it that simple? Who watched and evaluated the images from the Heron? Who determined the target? Who gave the order to fire? None of these questions have been answered yet. The report avoids naming those who were responsible for the decision. Since the day of the massacre we have requested and continue requesting those responsible for the massacre to be revealed and tried. But the government still hides who’s behind this.

Did you get any support from any Human Rights Authority?

We did but, it wasn’t very useful. As we all know human rights are there for the ones who have power, no for humanity.

You are a university student. Do you come across with any racist attacks in the university?

No. My friends and lecturers are very helpful and supportive.

You often get threatened? Do you have any fears? 

No. Threats don’t mean anything to me. No matter how hard they try or what they do I will not give up. Until the Justice brings peace  to the hearts victims families. Roboski Massacre is a crime against humanity. No one should stay silent.

[wc_testimonial by=”” url=”” position=”left”]This article and interview is written and made by our guest writer Sibel Tas, from Australia.[/wc_testimonial]