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 Turkey says will pay reparations to families of slain Kurds

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Turkey says will pay reparations to families of slain Kurds  3.1.2012  










Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc.
 
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Turkey won't apologize for deadly raid on civilian Kurds

January 3, 2012


ISTANBUL,— Turkey will pay reparations to the families of Kurdish villagers killed in air strikes near the Iraqi Kurdistan border, but will not officially apologise, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Monday.

"The reparations will be paid in a couple of days," Arinc said in televised remarks after a cabinet meeting. However, the government would not "officially" apologise for the killings, Arinc said.

"It would be a very negative expectation (that we) apologise officially."

Arinc said the killings had not been intentional, but a probe of possible negligence was underway.

"It is absolutely out of question that the incident was intentional. However, although it was not intentional, examinations are ongoing about any possible negligence," he said.

On Wednesday night, Turkish air strikes killed 35 Kurdish smugglers, most of them less than 20 years old, near the Iraqi border.

Turkey's military command said it carried out the air strike after a spy drone spotted a group moving toward its sensitive southeastern border under cover of darkness late Wednesday,www.ekurd.net in an area known to be used by militants.

The main pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) said the planes had bombed Kurdish villagers from Kurdish southeastern Turkey [northern Kurdistan] who were smuggling sugar and fuel across the border on mules and donkeys.

"The dead citizens are civilians but we have to know that the region is where (the army) hold cross border operations. The region is a place where terrorist actions and terrorist groupings are intense," Arinc said.

He added that the army had received reports that a group of almost 50 people were walking with mules who could be carrying weapons.

Arinc said the air strikes were carried out after the group did not stop despite soldiers firing flares and artillery.

Investigations into the incident have been opened by both prosecutors and the military, he said.

Witness accounts said that soldiers had blocked the routes smugglers normally use to get back to their villages, and said that authorities were aware that the routes have been used to smuggle gas, cigarettes and sugar from northern Iraq for years.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday expressed regret for what he called an "unfortunate and distressing" incident.

"Images transmitted by drones showed a group of 40 people in the area, it was impossible to say who they were," he told journalists in Istanbul. "Afterwards it was determined they were smugglers transporting cigarettes and fuel on mules."

The military also offered its condolences on Friday in a rare gesture that appeared to acknowledge its error.

In November Turkey bombed the Sulaimaniyah and Erbil provinces of Iraq's autonomous northern Kurdish region, wounding a civilian, Kurdish officials said. Since August 17, 2011 Turkish jets repeatedly carried out air strikes against the Kurdish PKK separatist group's bases in Iraqi Kurdistan region, under justification of chasing elements of the anti-Ankara PKK, forcing large numbers of Kurdish citizens of those areas to desert their home villages, including an air raid that killed 7 Kurdish civilians in a village north of Kurdistan’s Sulaimaniyah city on August 21, 2011.

Since it was established in 1984, the PKK has been fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish state in the south east of the country, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous Kurdish region and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.

PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees, lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.

Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.

PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union's terror list. 

Copyright © 2012, respective author or news agency, AP | ekurd.net | Agencies
 


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