Reflections on the Roboski Massacre: How’s the Peace Process Doing?

By Dr. Amy L. Beam:

On Dec 28, 2014, thousands of people will gather in the small mountain village of Roboski, Uludere in far southeast Turkey for the third year memorial of the Roboski massacre.  As reported by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) May 15, 2012, the U.S. flew the drone over Roboski and passed the intelligence to the Turkish military which flew two F-16s for 47 minutes and bombed and killed 34 innocent young men and adolescent boys, as young as 12, who were doing border trading of gasoline on their mules.

The Turkish government said it had received “bad intel” but failed to say where that bad intel had come from until the Wall Street Journal forced a rebuttal the next day on May 16, five months after the attack.  Turkey claimed it had flown its own drone.  On May 17, 2012,  the WSJ stood by its original claim, based on its Pentagon source, that the U.S. flew the drone.

After 13 months of pressure from the victims’ families for an explanation, a government commission produced its report in March 2013.  Levent Gök, a member of the commission from the CHP, stated,  “When I read the draft, I felt ashamed in the name of humanity.  It is a black stain on the historic record of the Human Rights Commission. . . .It does not point out anybody as responsible; sufficing with a flaw of coordination between military and civilian authorities. There is nothing there about the military staff; it is as if an army from the outer space did all that.”

Gök added that four crucial questions remain unaddressed:

  • Who evaluated the visuals that were sent by drones earlier that evening?
  • Who defined the assault coordinates?
  • Which additional intel led to final assessments?
  • Who gave the final orders to shoot?

The actual attack took place over the border in Iraq.  According to Turkey’s law, a cross-border military attack requires knowledge and approval from the highest levels.

Roboski massacre

Roboski massacre victims, 28 December 2011

The government offered the families of each victim a $1500 US dollar settlement which all refused.  On this third anniversary, the families and the country still have no answers.  Although they have appealed the case in Ankara, they are unlikely to get satisfaction until they have exhausted appeals within Turkey and then appeal to a European court.

I first visited the families of Roboski in 2012.  After reading about the U.S. drone’s role in the massacre, I thought one American should show up and say “I’m sorry.”  I spoke with many of the victims’ families.  They explained that no one from the government has ever come to interview them.

Amy Beam visits with mother who lost her 13-year-old son

Amy Beam visits with mother who lost her 13-year-old son

This wound in the heart of all Kurds will continue to fester and hinder the stalled peace process between the Turkish government and its 22 million Kurds.

The end of the year is when one normally does a review and assessment.  So how did the peace process between Turkey and its Kurds do in 2014?  Here is a sampling.

February 25, 2014, once again, there was military action at the Turkey-Iraq border near Roboski. The Turkish government built a “security road” and erected a wire fence to block the cross-border trading. This drew local protests which resulted in military bombing, shooting and tear gassing of civilians.

The following day the house of Servet Encu, one of three survivors from the Roboski massacre in 2011, was attacked.  One hundred bullets were shot into his house while he and his family of ten, including children, were inside.  The Gendarmerie refused to respond saying they could not investigate because it was dark.

Amy Beam visits with Servet Encu (left) at his house

Amy Beam visits with Servet Encu (left) at his house

According to the ‘Withdrawal and Resolution Process Monitoring Commission’ established by the Human Rights Association (IHD), in the last year the decision has been taken to construct  341 new military posts and bases.  Eleven security dams are planned near the border and 820 kilometers of “security roads” have been built along the border.  Additionally, 2,000 new village guards have been recruited.

On March 7, 2014, a Turkish soldier was killed in Roboski when a grenade was thrown into a Turkish army convoy.  This is in response to the Turkish military on the border at Roboski.  In a statement by the People’s Defence Force (HPG), they accused the Turkish army of having broken the ceasefire by setting up military posts on the border.

On June 8, soldiers shot and killed two civilian Kurds in Lice who were protesting the building of yet another army base.  Ramazan Baran, age 26, and  Baki Akdemir, age 50, were shot to death.

On August 3, 2014, the Islamic State attacked Shingal in Iraq.  With the help of the PKK in Iraq, more than 20,000 Yazidis fled over the mountain to Roboski where the small village of 1200 residents sheltered, fed them, and bused them to other towns and cities.   When asked why and how they could manage this task, Ferhat Encu and Lezgin Encu of Roboski  answered, “It is our duty.  We must save them.”

Ferhat Encu, Roboski spokesman, points to his brother, Serhat

Ferhat Encu, Roboski spokesman, points to his brother, Serhat

Ferhat Encu’s 17-year-old brother, Serhat , was killed in the Roboski massacre in 2011.  Ferhat is now the representative of the victims’ families, pressing the government in court for answers.  It seems those who have the least, who have suffered the most, are the ones who give most selflessly.  They know what it is like to be attacked and driven out.

Now Kurdish volunteers are feeding and sheltering 20,000 Yazidis in a dozen refugee camps in southeast Turkey with volunteers and donations.  The Turkish government, in spite of legal requirements, refuses to give any humanitarian aid to these camps run by Kurds . . . better to freeze and starve them out, than to support this Kurdish initiative.

The international community stands silently by, because Turkey continues to suppress press freedom.  Many of the above links in this very story now display empty pages.  This is the power of Turkey’s internet censorship and how it continues to spin a one-sided story against the Kurds.

On August 15, 2014, a statue of the Kurdish general, Agit (real name Mahsun Korkmaz), was erected in a the martyrs cemetery in Lice, a district of Diyarbakir.  On August 19, it was demolished with the aid of 3000 Turkish soldiers.  A Turkish soldier shot into the Lice crowd and killed 24-year-old Mehdi Taşkın who was protesting the demolition of the statue.  He died of a gunshot wound to the head.  It was tragic but not surprising that on August  21, a soldier was killed in Van.

August 15, 2014, Citizens erect statue of Kurdish leader Agit

August 15, 2014, Citizens erect statue of Kurdish leader Agit

On September 10, Turkish soldiers, on court orders, attempted to demolish a Kurdish school built with private funds.  It was tragic, but not surprising that this was followed by the burning of Turkish schools in the southeast.

When the Islamic State attacked Kobane, Kurds demonstrated across the country in October.  In one week, 38 innocent Kurdish civilians and two soldiers were killed.  Turkey held state funerals for the soldiers, but not a whisper about the 38 Kurds who lost their lives protesting the government’s policy of preventing Kurds from Turkey to cross the border into Syria to defend Kobane.

A video on the internet, secretly filmed, shows a meeting of people, allegedly in the AK party, discussing the Kobane situation and the deaths of civilians in Turkey.  They applaud the Islamic State’s battle for Kobane.

In November a video was uploaded to YouTube showing a gang of civilians beating a Kurdish man to death in Izmir in October.  Approximately 20 Turkish police officers in uniform stood only feet away and watched the murder.

These are dangerous times for Turkey.  The warning signs are openly visible.   The hour is late.  The sands of time are running out.

Kurds want peace, justice, democracy, and equality.   The imprisoned Kurdish leader, Abdullah Ocalan, has urged the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) not to use armed resistance.  How long can the Kurds’ patience endure?   When will Turkey understand it is in its best interest to grant Kurdish demands for cultural and language freedom, release political prisoners, and revise or entirely rescind the anti-terrorism laws under which so many have been imprisoned?

 Dr. Amy L. Beam promotes tourism in eastern Turkey (North Kurdistan) and writes in support of Kurdish and Ezidi human rights.  Read her stories at  She is writing a book, “Love and Betrayal in Kurdistan.”   Follow her on Twitter @amybeam or contact her at

4 Responses to Reflections on the Roboski Massacre: How’s the Peace Process Doing?
  1. Nariman
    December 28, 2014 | 01:26

    Erdogan was behind the assassination of 3 PKK leaders in Paris. He directly issued the order. He is arming & funding the terrorist lS, as well. He does not believe in peace and democracy at all. How can he be admitted in EU and be a NATO Ally.

  2. Karox
    December 28, 2014 | 01:49

    Is Turkey opposed to freedom for Western Kurdistan & recent reclaimation of Kurdish territorities and defeat of terrorism by Peshmarga Forces in South? Too late now! It must seek a solution for North Kurdistan now, it’s own 20 Million underrepresented Kurds. Wake up Turkey! Its the 21st century. No more Massacres, Denial, Repression.

  3. Nadia
    December 28, 2014 | 19:52

    Go back to 90s and dig into the never-exposed massacres committed by Turkish fascist Army against Kurds, especially PKK. Chemical weapons were used. Thousands disappeared…..

    • Amy L Beam
      December 28, 2014 | 23:08

      Yes, I know about 3000 Kurdish villages destroyed, evacuated, burned and between 1 and 3 million Kurds internally displaced. I am writing my book about the history, politics, and culture of Kurds in Turkey.

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