In fact, the reason the issue is still fresh is because of the mistakes the government committed. Offensive remarks by the interior minister about the victims initiated the most recent debate. The government failed to deal with the crisis that erupted in the aftermath of this disaster. It failed to address the reactions.
The Uludere disaster is symbolically important. Over time, it has become a turning point for the AK Party’s policy vis-à-vis the Kurdish problem. There are a number of reasons for its importance. Above all, the incident refers to a serious humanitarian issue that reaches beyond politics, terror and the Kurdish issue -- namely, poverty. The villagers in Uludere take huge risks to make a living because of extreme poverty. And when the real issue is poverty, the whole country sides with the 34 victims and their relatives.
Next, the victims were not Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants; on the contrary, they were Kurdish civilians. It is not possible to downplay the incident and use it to polarize opinions on terrorism.
In addition, there was obvious incompetence from the military and intelligence units in the incident. The disaster took place after a series of mistakes, which raises doubts concerning the capabilities of the security forces.
And finally, the government failed to address the issue calmly and deal with the alienation felt by the bereaved in this incident. The crisis was mismanaged.
From the perspective and standpoint of the AK Party, there are even more crucial problems. The military is waging a war on terror. It was the military that bombed the 34 poor Kurds. This means that this was a mistake connected to military capabilities. And it coincides with the time when the government passed a critical turning point in its relations with the military. The AK Party rendered the military coup plotters’ plans ineffective. It needs to attract the support of the rest of the army. And in this case, it needs to extend support to the military unless the mistake is deliberate. The AK Party is the state itself now; it has no competitor. And at this critical juncture, the Uludere disaster is turning into a test of confidence between the military and the government.
I was in Diyarbakır over the weekend. For all Kurds, regardless of their political background, the Uludere disaster has become a collective wound. Even the Kurds who support the AK Party oppose the government on this matter. The incident, which has turned into a test of confidence between the military and the government, has also become a test of sincerity between the government and the Kurdish citizens. And the AK Party is stuck between the military and the Kurds.
Obviously, Prime Minister Erdoğan is uncomfortable with the situation. The analogy he made between abortion and the Uludere massacre and his criticism of those who continue to question the incident at the AK Party İstanbul branch convention indicate his discomfort.
Uludere is no longer all about the murder of 34 people. For the first time an elected government has started to administer all institutions of the state. The Uludere incident is a symbolic indicator of the extent a single-party government, ambivalent between the state and the people, represents the people, and how effectively it rules the country. In short, does the state really belong to the people, or is the individual just a detail that the state could eliminate by mistake?
It is the AK Party that needs to take action, and the way it resolves this crisis will answer the question above.