Turkey Found Guilty of “Bombarding Kuşkonar Village” in 1994


BIANET 13-11-2013 – ECHR found Turkey guilty of “bombarding Kumçatı and Koçağlı villages in 1994”, ordering Turkey to pay 38 applicants a sum of 2,305,000 euros.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found Turkey guilty of “bombarding a village”, ordering Turkey to pay 38 applicants a sum of 2,305,000 euros as non-pecuniary damages and 5,700 euros as pecuniary damages. Launched 19 years ago, the official investigation yielded no results.

Survivors ran way after packing

On 26 March 1994, a range of Turkish military aircraft fired on and bombed Kumçatı and Koçağlı villages, killing 38 of the in

habitants, injuring others and destroying most of the property and livestock.

Following the incident, Kuşkonar villagers fled and never returned to their villages again. 

As the majority of the men from the villages were out working in the fields, most of the victims were children, women or the elderly. The applicants claimed that no members of the PKK were in the villages at the time.

Though the residents of the villages heard the sound of aircraft prior to the attack, they did not expect the bombing; planes and helicopters had often been heard in the area conducting reconnaissance and bombing missions against the PKK in the nearby mountains, but they had never attacked the villages.

Case pending at prosecutor for 19 years

Gendarmerie forces took short statements of villagers in Koçağlı, which were sent to the prosecutors office in Cizre district. 

The prosecutor, on the other hand, forwarded the case to the former State Security Court (DGM) in Diyarbakir province – a procedure that is only applied to PKK cases at the time.

DGM Prosecutor’s Office discontinued charges, saying that “no organizations linkages have been founded”. The case was later on sent to Şırnak Prosecutor’s Office. 

For the next 10 years, the case travelled between various judicial authorities. No official investigation have been made on Kuşkonar village. The case is still pending at Diyarbakır Special Prosecutor’s Office.

TAF: It wasn’t us, it must be PKK

During the official investigation, military authorities were asked to provide information regarding the incident. 

Prompt, the response was clear: “No airstrike has been performed at the given time and location…” 

In 2006, the villagers applied to ECHR. The court urged Turkey to account for the incident. The Turkish government maintained that the attack was not conducted by Turkish military aircraft, but was instead carried out by the PKK because the villages had refused to celebrate Newroz, the traditional Kurdish new year festival. It alleged that there was no evidence of state involvement.

Turkey convicted of “torture”

The court found Turkey of violating the following of the European Convention on Human Rights articles: Article 2 (right to life), Article 38 (obligation to provide all necessary facilities for the examination of the case) and Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) because the villagers had been forced to witness the deaths of their relatives and the destruction of their homes, and the Turkish government had not provided even the minimum of humanitarian aid to deal with the aftermath of the attack. 

Turkey has the right to appeal the case to a superior chamber at ECHR. (AS/BM)

* Click here to read the original article in Turkish.