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Turkey: Poetic Commemoration of Uludere Airstrike Victims

On December 29, 2011 in southeastern Turkey several Turkish Airforce F-16s bombed a convoy of Turkish Kurds on mules who were engaged in border trade, apparently mistaking them for Kurdish rebels. Thirty-four were killed; the average age of the victims was twenty.

While the Uludere (Roboski) bombing is still in the news headlines today, interest has been focused on the government's silence and the ongoing investigation, and the human side of the tragedy has been neglected.

However, last week poet and author Bejan Matur visited the region and posted her impressions on her Twitter account [tr], in both her poetic prose and photos.

A mother at her son's grave.


@bejanmatur: bugün geldim roboskiye ve gidemedim. yaslı kızkardeşlerin sesleri bırakmadı beni…

I arrived at Roboski today and couldn't leave. The voices of mourning sisters didn't let me.

@bejanmatur: roboskide gece;sınıra düşen top sesleri, F-16 ucusşları ve bütün gün mezarlıkta ağıt yakan kadınların anlattığı ölü oğullar. ahh yeter mi?

Night in Roboski: shelling on the border, the sounds of F-16 flights, and fallen sons about whom mothers ululate all day long at the cemetery. Ah, is that enough?

At her brother's grave.


@bejanmatur: o kadar uzaktık birbirimizden. o kadar yalnız kendimizle…

We were so far away from each other… However in solitude with ourselves…

@bejanmatur: Tum bunlar olurken butun gece ve gun roboskide top sesleri dinmedi. helikopterler, karsi tepelerden yukselen dumanlar arasinda yasanan hayat

As these events were happening, all day and all night shelling sounds never ceased at Roboski. A life between ever-flying helicopters and smoke from the shells on the mountain across.

His look…


@bejanmatur: 'Aile ici siddet nasil korkuncsa bizim cocuklarimiz da bu seslerle buyuyor’ diyor biri roboskideki top seslerini kastederek.

Someone said, “These sounds have the same effect on children as an abusive family.” He meant the sound of heavy artillery.

@bejanmatur: Olumden duyduklari aciyi azaltacak tek sey sorumlularin cezalandirilmasi cunku!

The only thing that would ease their pain would be the conviction of those responsible!

To live and to die at Roboski.


As one of Bejan's poems says:

Beklemeyi bilen kan,
Taş olmayı da bilir.
Dünyada olmak acıdır. Öğrendim.

Blood that knows how to wait
Knows how to be a stone.
Being on earth is pain itself. I've learned.

Bejan Matur was born in 1968 in an Alevi Kurdish family in the city of Marash in southeast Turkey. As well as being a poet she is a newspaper columnist and runs a cultural foundation in Diyarbakır.

All photos courtesy of Bejan Matur.

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