Main opposition leader vows to shed light on Roboski massacre in southeast Turkey

The leader of Turkey's main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on Thursday visited the country’s Kurdish-majority southeastern Şırnak province, where the 2011 Roboski massacre took place, vowing to shed light on the killing of 34 Kurdish civilians.

The pain suffered by the people of Şırnak has “yet to cease," Duvar news site cited Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu as saying, as he promised justice for the victims’ families.

On December 28, 2011, 34 Kurdish villagers were killed by a Turkish military bombshell during a purported “counter-terrorism” operation, known as the “Roboski massacre.” The villagers,  19 of whom were children, were making their way across a mountain path from the Iraqi border, where they had travelled to collect supplies to sell.

Turkey regularly carries out air strikes in northern Iraq and has sent commandos to support its offensives as part of a long-running campaign in Iraq and Syria against militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been at war for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey for 40 years.

The massacre, which caused the victims’ bodies to be mutilated beyond recognition, has been mired by a lack of accountability and reparations for the victims and their family members.

“This incident has to be illuminated and I am here to promise that I will shed light on it,” the CHP leader said. “There must be justice… only after light is shed on the incident can there be reconciliation.” 

The victims and their family members have seen no convictions over a decade after the Roboski massacre. There has been no a trial of alleged perpetrators nor any adequate measures of reparation or truth, despite their nationally and international efforts to seek justice.

"Mothers continue to live in suffering and their suffering has to, in some way, be alleviated… we are going to administer this justice… this was our duty,” the CHP leader said.

Kılıçdaroğlu is currently on a “reconciliation’’ tour as part of his secularist Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) plans to make amends with all segments of society, including the Kurdish community, which makes up around 15 percent of the country’s population.

In January 2012, Bülent Arınç, then-government spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) said that the findings at the time had a military operation “seem necessary,” adding that there was “no need at the time” for an official apology.

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