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Ankara Hears Conflict Victim Testimonies

Gulan Media January 23, 2012 News
Ankara Hears Conflict Victim Testimonies
A Turkish parliamentary committee is hearing testimonies from victims of the 30-year conflict between Turkey and Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels.

Nabi Bustanci, the head of the committee, said its goal was to “try to reduce the effects of the past 30 years of war on terror.”

The Turkish Parliament created the committee in September 2011 to investigate human rights violations committed during Turkey’s war with the PKK.

The committee has so far heard the testimonies of victims who said were tortured and oppressed by Turkish military and security forces. The committee has also heard from the families, who have lost loved ones at the hands of the Turkish military.

Some victims have told the committee that they were tortured by and suffered under the PKK.

The story of Hidir Ozturk, a Kurd from Dersim, has drawn a great deal of attention. Ozturk claimed that in 1995 he was captured by the Turkish security forces and that they gouged out both of his eyes because his daughter, Aytan was trying to join the PKK.

During the committee’s hearings, Ozturk said, “The guerrilla dead should be considered martyrs and their families should be compensated as victims of the Turkish military.”

Meanwhile, some families have filed complaints to the committee against the guerrilla group, saying that their children were forced to join the rebel group.

Bostanci, a Turkish MP from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said the conflict had left a deep scar.

“In order to reduce the effects of past events on individuals and society, everyone must tell their stories in front of the committee,” Bustanci said.

Bustanci added that the committee has also collected testimonies from journalists and other experts, saying they “revealed important information.”

According to Bustanci, the committee will look into the human casualty as well as the financial impact of the conflict.

Ibrahim Guclu, a Kurdish politician and writer, read a detailed report in front of the committee which he sent to Rudaw.

Guclu’s appearance before the committee drew big attention from the Turkish media.

Guclu told Rudaw, “First, I read my report in Kurdish then in Turkish. It took me two hours to read the reports and 30 seconds to answer the questions of the committee.”

Guclu added, “I had absolute freedom in what I said. I used the same phrases in front of the committee as I use in my writing. I decided ahead of time that if the committee started protesting because of the way I was speaking that I would leave the place.”

Guclu said also claimed that “Without any doubt, there is a political agenda behind the creation of the committee, but it is a free and independent committee.”

Meantime, Guclu said it is too soon to judge the committee’s work to the end.

“This is a good start,” he said. “However, it is too early to say that the committee will maintain its independency on the results of the investigation and finding solutions.”

Burhan Miroglu, a Kurdish writer invited to speak in front of the committee, rejected the invitation.

Miroglu told Rudaw, “Given the method of their work it is difficult to see if the committee will have any solutions. I don’t believe the committee is politically independent. The committee is mostly inviting those people who speak against the PKK.”

Miroglu argued that committee members are representatives of Turkey’s political parties and have failed to invite human rights experts.