Turkey violated rights of 38 Kurdish villagers via not investigating 1994 airstrikes in Şırnak, top court rules

Turkey's Constitutional Court has found that the judicial authorities had violated the right to life by failing to properly investigate the death of 38 villagers, who were killed in an airforce bombing raid on two Şırnak villages in 1994. The top court ordered the state to pay 40,000-130,000 liras ($5,430-$17,650) to each of the 41 relatives of the deceased as non-pecuniary damage.

Duvar English

Turkey's Constitutional Court has found violation of right to life in a case concerning the killing of 38 villagers during a military airstrike in the southeastern province of Şırnak in 1994, online news portal T24 reported on Aug. 27.

The top court said that the Turkish authorities failed to investigate the bombings thoroughly and did not identify and punish those responsible.

In a ruling that came 26 years later following the incident, the Constitutional Court said that Turkish authorities had closed the case citing “statute of limitations.”

The top court said that it has now become impossible for the judicial authorities to identify those responsible in the case due to reasons such as “evidences got lost over time,” “it became harder for the past to be remembered” and “military archival records have been annihilated after some time.”

In its ruling, the Constitutional Court ordered the state to pay immaterial compensation worth 40,000-130,000 Turkish Liras ($5,430-$17,650) to each of the 41 relatives of the deceased.

A total of 38 villagers in Şırnak's Kuşkonar and Koçağili villages were killed in an aerial attack in March 1994. The villagers said that they had heard a jet noise before the attack and that the Turkish Armed Forces airplanes had targeted them. The Şırnak prosecutors said that the attack was carried out by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), but as evidence suggested otherwise, the case file has been over the years passed from one prosecutor to another.

The case was then taken to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which concluded in 2013 that the Turkish military had conducted the aerial attack, violating the Article 2 (“right to life”) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The ECHR ordered Turkey to pay 2.3 million euros to the families of the victims. The court said that Turkey failed “to protect the right to life” and “conduct proper investigation.” The ECHR also said the prosecutors had accused the PKK for the attack without any investigation or proof from the incident.