CHRONOLOGY OF ROBOSKI MASSACRE
On December 28th, 2011, a group of smugglers were mistaken for Kurdish guerrillas and were
accidentally bombed by the Turkish jets near the Turkish-Iraqi border. The smugglers were from two
border villages, Bujeh (Gülyazı in Turkish) and Roboski (Ortasu in Turkish) in Qileban (Uludere in
Turkish) district of Şırnak province. In the air strike, 34 smugglers were killed; 28 of them were under 23
years old. Three smugglers survived the strike.
On December 29th, 2011, the Turkish General Staff acknowledged the air bombing through a press
release at 11:45 am. The Turkish army reported that the smugglers’ convoy was detected by aerial drones
at 18:39, and the air bombing took place between 21:37 and 22:24 pm. The General Staff claimed that the
bombing happened outside of the border and it relies on the parliamentary permit of cross-border military
action on October 17th, 2007.
Following the press release by the General Staff, the Turkish media started reporting on the
bombardment. The bombardments as first reported and circulated through social media and Kurdish news
The deputy chair of the governing AK Party, Huseyin Celik, acknowledged the air bombing. The
representative stated that the killing of smugglers was an accident and mentioned that killed smugglers
are from a paramilitary village. The Turkish state has introduced the village guard system as a
paramilitary force against the Kurdish rebels. However, the government did not publish an official
apology for killing civilians.
A fact-finding group was organized by the Human Rights Association (IHD) and the Solidarity for
Oppressed People Association (Mazlum-Der) arrived in Roboski village. The group interviewed three
survivors. According to the survivors, land forces blockaded the path of the group, forced smugglers to
concentrate in two spots, and launched signal rockets before the air strike. However, the Turkish law
requires border guards to warn smugglers to stop and allows directly targeting smugglers only under the
condition of self-defense. In this case, the smugglers were not warned properly and they were not armed.
Survivors also mentioned that the local military post is aware of smuggling activities and some other
people have been caught and referred to the courts.
On December 30th, 2011, funeral ceremony of the victims took place. The pro-Kurdish Peace and
Democracy Party (BDP) co-chairperson, Selahattin Demirtas, co-chairpersons of the Democratic Society
Congress (DTK), a pro-Kurdish umbrella of organization of NGOs, Ahmet Turk and Aysel Tugluk and
BDP MPs as well as representatives from Iraqi Kurdish government participated in the funeral ceremony.
The governor of Uludere visited Roboski village and was protested by the villagers.
On December 31st, 2011, the Turkish PM, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, stated that ten days before the
incident they received intelligence on a possible guerilla intrusion on that day. Depending on the
intelligence, drones monitored the region and detected the smugglers. The PM claimed that they have a
four-hour-long video taken by drones before the bombing.
The Turkish Intelligence Agency (MIT) denied that they provided intelligence for the air strike in a press
On January 1st, 2012, the chairperson of the Republican People’s Party, the main opposing party in the
parliament, Kemal Kilicdaroglu and Istanbul MP Sezgin Tanrikulu visited Bujeh and Roboski villages.
On January 3rd, 2012, the Sirnak governorate initiated an administrative investigation about the air
On January 6th, 2012, it was reported that the legal investigation will be conducted under secrecy for
the sake of the investigation. Therefore, a public investigation was avoided.
On January 9th, 2012, Human Rights Research Commission of the Turkish Parliament established a
sub-commission to investigate the incident.
On January 24th, 2012, Turkish PM Erdogan stated that the Turkish government offers to pay 123,000
Turkish Lira (around $ 65,000) for each victim to victim’s families. However, the compensation is to be
paid through the Law on the Compensation of Damages that Occurred due to Terror and the Fight Against
Terrorism (Law No. 5223). Paying compensation through this law is to disallow members of the victims’
families to file cases to the courts. This law was originally made for the victims of the village evacuations
and forcibly displaced Kurdish villagers (around 3 millions of Kurdish villagers were forcibly displaced
during the 1990s). Since Turkey lost most of the cases regarding the force displacement in the European
Court of Human Rights (ECHR), this law aimed to disallow victims to file cases to the courts with
preconceived compensations and therefore to prevent referral of the cases to the ECHR. Government still
did not declare an official apology.
On February 4th, 2012, the Turkish military conducted another airstrike in Iraq with F-16 jets relying on
intelligence provided by U.S.-supplied Predator drones.
On February 16th, 2012, the Parliamentary investigation committee viewed footage provided by drones.
A commission member stated that even with naked eye, it was obvious that they were civilian smugglers.
On March 7th, 2012, the Military Electronics Industry (ASELSAN) forwarded a report about the drones
images to the sub-commission as part of the Parliamentary Human Rights Research Commission. The
report confirmed that pack animals and civilian smugglers could easily be detected in the footage.
On April 6th, 2012, the Turkish Ministry of Defense submitted a report to the sub-commission but the
report did not answer on the source of intelligence, chain of commands, and other details of the air strike.
Since the parliamentary research commission’s authority is limited, need of a public legal investigation
On May 1st, 2012, the Turkish Ministry of Interior Affairs submitted a report to the parliamentary
commission. The report states that there's a shift at the recorded scenes just before the last bombing,
which killed 15 people. The drones records were examined completely and it's stated that the recording of
the event continues uninterrupted however suddenly there's a shift and uncertainty at the images.
Suddenly the images of another region and group, which are different from the previous ones appear at
the records. The report concludes that there may be a second drone or the coordinates given by F-16s are
entered or an image support is provided from another country.
On May 16th, 2012, the Wall Street Journal published an article reporting that U.S. drones spotted the
smugglers convoy and alerted the Turkish authorities. U.S. military officers at the Fusion Cell in Ankara
couldn't tell whether the men, bundled in heavy jackets, were civilians or not. Although U.S. officials
suggested additional surveillance from the Predator might have helped the Turks better identify the
convoy, Turkish officers instead directed the Americans who were remotely piloting the drone to fly it
somewhere else. Without confirming the intelligence, the Turkish authorities recklessly and irresponsibly
launched the air strike that cost 34 civilian lives. The article was later confirmed by U.S. officials.
On May 22nd, 2012, the Turkish PM Erdogan claimed that he did not make the final decision of air
strike, the authority was Turkish Armed Forces. In doing so, the Turkish government denied to
acknowledge its responsibility behind the massacre.
On May 25th, 212, although the legal investigation has been conducted under secrecy, Diyarbakır
Special Authority Prosecutor in charge of the Roboski massacre investigation announced that no military
officials, including commanders in the region, have not been interrogated so far.
On May 30th, 2012, even though President Abdullah Gül stated that military authorities gave all kinds of
documents and information to the related judicial authorities, Diyarbakır Special Authority Prosecutor in
charge of the Roboski massacre investigation announced that they demanded the necessary information
and documents from the Presidency of General Staff but they have not received them. The parliamentary
sub-commission also reminded that they demanded the investigation file from the prosecutor however the
file is not sent to them.