In February of 2012, members of Amargi and other feminist organizations visited Uludere, a district in southeastern Turkey. They spoke to the family members of the victims that were killed on December 29th, 2011 by Turkish military forces. All of the victims were civilians, 19 of whom were children, and they were allegedly mistaken to be terrorists. The members of Amargi wrote a report documentıng their experiences, in which the family members clearly articulated what they wanted from the state: “They demand an official apology (which has still not been offered to them), they demand peace not revenge, they demand a fair investigation and trial process (which has not really started yet), they demand that people and authorities responsible for this massacre should be judged fairly and punished. They strongly object to take the compensation offered to them by the state for the ‘loss’ of the families.”
21 women from different cities went to Roboski, a village of Uludere district in one of the southern cities of Turkey, Şırnak where 34 civilians (19 were children) were killed on December 29th, 2011 by the military forces of the state. After the incident, public authorities told that villagers who were doing border trade were thought to be ‘terrorists’ and were shot ‘accidentally’. The investigation still continues due to the presence of evidence (including the images recorded at the time of the incident) showing that it was not a mere ‘operational mistake’.
Members of Istanbul Feminist Collective, (İFK, İstanbul Feminist Kolektif) gathered at the airport on February 11th, 2012, very early in the morning and flied to Diyarbakır. Meeting with women from Diyarbakır and Van (cities in the east and south east), they got on a bus and started a nearly 8 hours of journey to the village. In Şırnak, they met with another woman from a local women’s organization (Zilan Women’s Association, Zilan Kadın Derneği) who had formerly called women from all over the country to come to Roboski through a feminist news program on TV (Purple News/ IMC TV, Mor Bülten/IMC TV), 10 days after the incident. After this last stop in Şırnak, women headed to Uludere. Three activists from Amargi took place in this journey, as well.
When we arrived at Roboski, we were welcomed by a commitee in front of the mosque of the village. Both women and men greeted us in front of the door. Then, we went in to see all the acquintances of 34 villagers, holding their beloved one’s photos within frames. They were mostly mothers who carried the frames. Besides, there were sisters, wives, daughters, female cousins. They all stood side by side to welcome us. Thus, we offered our condolence to all of them one by one, each of us kissing, holding, and trying to have/ share a few words with all of the women standing there. Men sat on the other side of the mosque, greeting us as well. Then, we all sat and prayed for the ones who were killed. One of the feminists among us made a short speech stating the reason why we were there and offered our condolence again. While sitting together with women there, we talked and cried. Those who spoke Turkish among women from Roboski translated the sentences of Kurdish speaking villagers to us. Unfortunately, none of us spoke Kurdish. They told us whom they lost and the story of that very day briefly.
Villagers suggested that it was late to go and visit the graves as we formerly planned. Thus, it was decided that all of us would go to houses to spend the night. Forming nearly 6 groups, we all went to different houses, each group including 3 or 4 women. During our stay at the houses, we had chance to talk more and try at least to share the sorrow. We had chance to talk to women more, as well. All the stories that women told us naturally started with the massacre but we also shared some stories about being a woman in Uludere. As feminists, we could realize that women from Roboski were not only ‘mourning mothers’ who lost their children contrary to how they are represented in the main-stream media or in most of the articles written about the massacre. They had an anger which motivated them to utter their political demands clearly from the state and from all people living in this land who keep being silent about the massacre and the investigation process which is going nowhere.
They demand an official apology (which has still not been offered to them), they demand peace not revenge, they demand a fair investigation and trial process (which has not really started yet), they demand that people and authorities responsible for this massacre should be judged fairly and punished. They strongly object to take the compensation offered to them by the state for the ‘loss’ of the families. Moreover, villagers in most of the houses told us that they will leave the country unless anything convincing is done for a fair trial before spring comes.
Everybody, especially children and women wanted us to stay more. However, we had to gather very early the next morning in the mosque again to set off. Most villagers told us that they were glad that we stayed overnight being guests at their houses since we had more time to talk and share. They said most of the groups visiting the village came and stayed for a few hours only and this makes it quite impossible to share the feeling and to tell what happened in details. They wanted us to tell and write about the things they told us. They are aware of the fact that the main-stream media has not told the story correctly and does not hear their voices and demands. They wanted us to make their demands visible and to tell them in a true way to those who are not aware of what did really happen at Roboski.
It was a very hard journey for all of us. However, visiting the village meant more than just being in solidarity with people of Uludere. It was a political necessity for feminists to go there and state their objection against the politics of war. After coming back, we organized a meeting in Istanbul with women and told them our impressions and experiences. We screened the intervies we recorded there with the villagers. Women among us also wrote some articles about the visit. One of them was written by an Amargi member.