There is a rumour that two of the pilots that carried out the Roboski massacre resigned from their jobs. They supposedly have such severe psychological problems that they cannot carry out their duties anymore. ‘Divine justice’, somebody told me on twitter when I mentioned it in a tweet. If the resignation is true, considering it ‘divine justice’ not only denies the pain the pilots must be going through, it also doesn’t put the question of who is responsible for the massacre in the right perspective. And of who are the victims.
Foremost, the 34 boys and men who were killed in the massacre on 28 December 2011 are the victims. And the families they left behind, the village communities where they came from, and basically the whole Kurdish community in Turkey, that faced yet another massacre in the days of the Turkish Republic.
But I consider the pilots to be victims too, wether they resigned or not. They may have been highly trained, fit and healthy men, willingly working for the army, but in the end they were not high in the army hierarchy and they were carrying out orders to kill.
I would love to have an interview with the pilots. I would ask them how they became pilots, and why. Was it their boyhood dream to fly in an F16? Did they come from families with histories of fathers and grandfathers serving their country, and did they want to follow in their footsteps? Were they proud when they were selected for the demanding job of F16 pilot, and proud to be working for the state institution that up until a few years ago was the most respected and most powerful in the country?
They must have believed in what they were doing. F16 pilots are never old men, so they probably grew up when the ‘fight against terrorism’, which started almost thirty years ago, was in full force already. They were made to believe, like many Turks, that there was no Kurdish issue in Turkey, that there was only terrorism. And that the only way to fight terrorism is with violence. They were probably proud that they could play an important role in fighting the terrorism and seperatism threatening the unity of their country.
They must have been very angry, like many Turks, when the PKK carried out an attack in October 2011 in the province of Hakkari, in which more than twenty soldiers died. Many Turks wanted revenge, and the government swore to get it. So when there was vague intelligence that a PKK leader, Fehman Hüseyin, was about to enter into Turkey from Iraq, possibly hiding in a group of smugglers, the opportunity for revenge was found. Imagine if the intelligence was true and a high profile PKK leader would be killed!
I doubt the soldiers were informed about the intelligence. They probably just got the coordinates of the location that needed to be bombed. And they probably trusted their commanders and confidently carried out the order they got. Target hit, mission successful. Pats on their shoulders.
Until they saw the pictures of the victims they made. Not Fehman Hüseyin – and the chance that he was actually in the group was close to zero – but 34 civilians, most of them underage. Struggling to make a living with cross-border trade because the fight against terrorism left them with no other available jobs. Top f klng civiis, did the whole event open their eyes to the realities of the state they must have believed in for so long? A state that consciously made them kill innocent civilians, and load them with that burden for the rest of their lives.
There is no divine justice in this matter. And divine justice is also not what is needed here. Real justice, with those responsible facing an independent inquiry and judge, is the only thing that can sooth the deep pain that this massacre has caused so many people. Including the F16 pilots.