By Burak Bekdil
One need not have too powerful an imagination to answer: What would happen if Greek fighter jets bombed and killed 34 Greek citizens of Turkish origin who were trying to illegally cross the border from Turkey? What would happen if Israeli commandoes killed 34 Israeli citizens of Arab origin trying to illegally cross the border from the Palestinian territories? What would Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in particular, and his Islamist cheerleaders say? There is evidence to guess.
Precisely 582 days after the Israeli Defense Forces raided the Mavi Marmara and -- as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted later -- unintentionally killed nine Turks on board due to “operational errors,” the Turkish Air Force bombed a hoard of mostly teenage villagers from Uludere in southeastern Turkey, mistaking them for terrorists and killing 34. That happened on Dec. 28, 2011.
About 15 months after the Mavi Marmara incident, a U.N.-sponsored investigation known as the U.N. Palmer report determined Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip to be legal, but stated that the “decision to board the vessels with such substantial force at a great distance from the blockade zone and with no final warning immediately prior to the boarding was excessive and unreasonable.”
Then, about 15 months after the Uludere incident, the Turkish Parliament’s Human Rights Examination Commission approved by a majority vote a report drafted by a sub-commission assigned to examine the controversy over the killings. The Uludere report concluded that the investigations produced no evidence that the attack was intentional.
But the chairman of the sub-commission and a member of the ruling Justice and Development Party, İhsan Şener, said at that time: “The report’s finding that ‘there is no evidence that the attack was intentional’ does not mean ‘the attack was not intentional.’” So, the attack was not intentional but maybe it was.
In May 2012, an Istanbul state prosecutor prepared indictments carrying life sentences for four Israeli commanders involved in the Mavi Marmara raid, charging each of them with first-degree murder, assault, and torture. The indictment called for 10 life sentences to be imposed on each of them. The same month, the Israeli suspects were indicted by an Istanbul court after a panel of judges voted unanimously on the 144-page indictment which accused them of inciting murder and injury.
And precisely 740 days after the killing of 34 villagers in Uludere, the General Staff Military Prosecutor’s Office dismissed the investigation into the incident. Just like the parliamentary commission’s mysterious finding that “the killings were not intentional but maybe they were,” the prosecutor’s lengthy and detailed investigation report found that the killings took place due to “unavoidable mistakes.” So, there were mistakes but, mysteriously, “they were unavoidable.”
It is not a relief that in Turkey human beings may be killed by rockets fired from warplanes – which they may have financed with their taxes – due to “unavoidable mistakes.” But what kind of mistakes are unavoidable mistakes? Simple. They are the kind of mistakes that officials commit and kill people but not a single official is held accountable before the court.
In Turkey, you can get at least a few years in jail if your car’s brakes (unavoidably) broke down and you injured someone in a crash – something almost totally outside your control. The legal penalty for a barman if his enterprise possessed a single bottle of imported booze without the proper import seal can be five years in jail. You can rot in jail for years if you wrote a book deemed dangerous by the authorities. And you can avoid even prosecution if you deliberately ordered the killing of the wrong men.
As I have written twice in this column, “this is the Islamist’s understanding of justice: religious discrimination not only against the living but also the dead…
“Subconsciously (and sadly) the Muslim-Turkish thinking tolerates it if Muslims kill Muslims; does not tolerate it but does not turn the world upside down when Christians kill Muslims; pragmatically ignores it when too-powerful Christians kill Muslims; but is programmed to turn the world upside down when Jews kill Muslims.”