Ferhat Encü: It is necessary to expel the impunity mentality from these lands

Ferhat Encü lost his brother and other relatives ten years ago in the Roboski massacre. He says: "The policy of impunity has become a form of government. It is necessary to clean the country from this ill mentality."

On 28 December 2011, 34 mostly young, Kurdish civilians were killed in a Turkish air strike near the village of Roboskî. Although ten years have passed, the perpetrators and those behind them remain unpunished. Instead of the real perpetrators, in fact, the victims' families were brought to justice, arrested and threatened. The file on the massacre, which was not accepted by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on the grounds that domestic remedies had not been exhausted, was tried to be covered up by the "No place for prosecution" decisions given one after another by the Turkish judiciary.

Despite all the pressure, threats and obstacles, the Roboski families have not given up the fight for justice. They are currently waiting for a response from the Constitutional Court and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to a motion they made in February 2021.

The co-chair of the HDP provincial association of Istanbul, Ferhat Öncü, lost his brother Serhat Encü and 27 other relatives in the attack. In a conversation with ANF on the occasion of the anniversary of the massacre, he talks about the situation.

"The pain is as fresh as on the first day"

Encü emphasizes that even ten years after the massacre, the pain never faded away. There have been many new developments and events in these ten years, but the only thing that has not changed is the determination with which they, as families of Roboski, fought for justice.

"The political justice protects the perpetrators"

There is no longer a door on which the relatives have not knocked to ensure the conviction of the perpetrators, but even if the massacre has been brought on the agenda again and again through demonstrations and rallies, it has not been possible to achieve anything on a legal level. That is due to the legal system of Turkey, says Encü and continues: “Since the judiciary in Turkey acts politically, the murderers have unfortunately been protected since the first day of the massacre. Instead, as Roboski families fighting for justice and truth, we have been tried, investigated, arrested and imprisoned. That is one side of the matter. The other side is that since the day of the massacre the pain has remained as fresh in the hearts of mothers and families as it was in the first moment. One of the main reasons our suffering has not stopped is that ten years after the massacre not a single person has been prosecuted and a policy of impunity is in place."

"The biggest obstacle is the judiciary"

Encü points out that the judiciary was the greatest obstacle after the massacre. This obstacle could not be overcome and so the 34 people killed never found their way onto the agenda of prosecutors and judges.

Encü explains: "This illegal act was already foreseeable when the public prosecutor of Uludere started investigating the families on the first day after the massacre, instead of looking for the perpetrators and bringing them to justice. The Constitutional Court one’s was the last in a series of rejections that began in Uludere. The investigation into the massacre was also dismissed by this court for ‘absence of documents’. Unfortunately, although there was a violation of the right to life, the ECHR also made a political decision, raising various technical issues and not accepting the case because the domestic legal options were not exhausted. After the attempted coup on 15 July, after the judges who dismissed the case were tried and convicted in the proceedings against the Gülen followers, we turned to the Diyarbakır Public Prosecutor's Office again. However, it decided not to be responsible and referred the case to the prosecutor of Uludere. Again the decision was made not to pursue the proceedings any further. In such a legal system, which acts only in the interests of the rulers, we as families of Roboski try to fight for justice."

Roboski dismissed as ‘mistake’

Encü recalled that an Uludere subcommittee was being created in Parliament's Human Rights Commission at that time. However, the AKP was in the majority in the eight-member commission, and the result of this committee served as a justification for the already inactive judiciary. Despite the resistance of the HDP and the CHP, the massacre was de facto legitimized in the Commission's report as an ‘mistake’. This report also had a clear impact on the judiciary.

In contrast, Ferhat Encü's brother Veli Encü is still in prison, and the relatives of the victims of the massacre are brought to justice on various pretexts and punished with sentences. This is how they have been silenced for ten years.

The families appealed to the Constitutional Court in February 2021 and to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in October. Encü says that they are waiting for the answers from these institutions at the moment.

Encü began to be actively involved in politics after the massacre. He explains: "The suffering here did not begin with Roboski. There have been so many massacres. Our villages have been evacuated, there are arrests and torture every day. I was a politicized person in that regard. I've always fought against injustice, but after the massacre I got actively involved in politics. I have entered into an active and more combative process to ensure that there will be no more massacres in this country and that those who perpetrated this massacre will be held accountable."

"It's time to put an end to it"

Encü warns that the policy of impunity has become a form of rule in this country. This policy has not only prevailed since the AKP came to power, but has been directed against the Kurds and other identities throughout the history of the republic. No massacre is pursued, says Encü adding: "We see that in the acquittal of the 'good guys' who carried out a bomb attack on the Umut library in Şemdinli, we see this in the acquittal of the contra guerrilla teams responsible for those killed by 'unknown' perpetrators, we see this in the cover-up policy in the proceedings for the massacres of Ankara and Suruç and we see this in the suffering the Senyaşar family has experienced. We have seen impunity become a form of governance against our people who were burned alive in the death cellars of Cizre or whose mother, Taybet, was killed and left on the street. We see this in all these countless massacres... What we are going to do here is to fight this mentality even more and to show even more solidarity. It is necessary to get this obnoxious mentality out of this land. Otherwise we will likely face new massacres. As history repeats itself it is necessary to stop this wheel and speak up. Peace, democracy, freedom and equality must now prevail in this country."