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    He opened the bus door

    Hürriyet Haber
    02.09.2005 - 09:24 | Son Güncelleme:

    Three soldiers who survived a massacre of 33 privates in the Turkish armed forces 12 years ago told of their experiences. The year was 1993. They got onto two civilian minibuses leaving from Malatya. They were all in civilian clothing. Their uniforms and army boots were in their bags. None of them were armed, nor were any army personnel accompanying them.

    It was 18:00. There were 10 kilometers left until reaching Bingol. It was a mountainous, narrow road. Suddenly, the sound of gunshots began to echo. After passing the first high corner, they came upon about 50 PKK militants who had taken about 50 of the passengers on a passing Bingol Tur bus hostage. Most of the passengers on this bus were privates from the army going home on leave. They yell to the driver of their bus: "Return!" The driver cannot have been from around there. As it was, he had stopped about 3 times during a 4 hour journey. The "fingerless genuis," also known as Semdin Sakik, wound up opening the bus doors.

    Osman Partal describes it:

    I am from Trabzon. I was one of the 50 soldiers on the two minibuses. I was going to my community in Van-Ozalp. The bus driver, who had been taking breaks during the entire trip, finally stopped, saying a tire had popped this time. I saw that the tire had not popped, but that it wasn't touching the rackjack. I heard him talking to someone when he got down under the axel. He was probably talking on a wireless. Semdin Sakik, in the interviews published in the Hurriyet, says "When we were planning the event, we didn't know that soldiers were going to pass down that road." But he is lying. Because I was sitting in the front seat of the first bus. When our road was blocked, Sakik himself opened the driver's door. He was wearing a dirt colored uniform, and had a helmet on backwards. The barrel of the gun on his shoulders was facing the ground.He asked the driver where the other bus was. He got the answer that it was "behind, but coming." Two minutes later, the other bus fell into the trap. Which means, they were waiting for us. 

    They divided us according to west and east

    We walked with the terrorists until midnight. When we were given a break, we asked them why we had been taken hostage, and what their plans were. They answered that we would be set free within two days of a ceasefire announcement by the Turkish Republic. It was around 1 in the morning. Following Sakik's orders, we lined up in single file. Sakik then started asking us where we were from, and then we were divided according to whether we were from the east or the west. Sakik gave orders that a group of 34 of us, of whom I was one, were to be taken to an indoctrination camp. We started to walk fast in the mountains. The terrorists accompanying us changed constantly. They were around 300 as a group. We went to a village. They knocked on the doors of different houses there, and terrorists came out, joining the group. Some of the group went to rest and relax in these houses. They put us into a barn to kill us. Then they passed up on this plan. Then we began to walk again. I thought I would not see the morning. I looked up at the stars and thought of my mother, my father, and my village. We drank water from a stream we passed. We got onto a mountain road. Their behavior towards us sharpened. They stopped us. It was about 3 in the morning. They wanted us to line up on the side of the road. They told us to link arms. I said to my friend next to me, "The revolutionaries are going to shoot us now."

    DEVREMÝ ÖLÜ GÖRÜNCE BAYILDIM

    I was shivering. They undid the safeties on their Kalashnikovs and the other guns they had. I realized that the end had come, and threw myself on the ground. They began to open fire on us. A bullet lodged in my knee. Those who had been shot began to fall on top of me. I was protecting my head. In order to make sure we were all dead, they rained down hundreds of bullets on us. I understood that they had gone when their voices died down. At that point, only about 6 or 7 of my friends were alive and well. The other ones had been ripped to pieces. They were in pain, calling for water, moaning. Some were crying, "Mother, mother!" I thought I had died. I pinched myself, and discovered I wasn't dead. I fainted when a saw someone's brains coming out of their head.

    They lined us up and shot 1570 bullets into us

    When I came to, I turned my dead soldier friends over on their backs. Every limb I touched stayed on my hands. Brains, feet....I began to run up the road looking for help. I was losing blood. I got onto an asphalt road and caught a ride with a truck to the nearby Elmali Police Station. When I explained what had happened, the gendarmes on duty began to cry. Helicopters and tanks began to come. We picked up the dead. At the spot where it took place, we found the empty shells of 1570 bullets. Which meant that they had used about 50 bullets for each unarmed private.


    The driver knew

    Erkan Omay remembers

    I had completed my beginners training with my friend from Adana, Mehmet Tura. We boarded two civilian buses in Malatya on the morning of May 24 to go as a group to our posting in Siirt. Of the 50 soldiers there, none was armed. Our accompaniers weren't either. We passed the sign saying there were 10 kilometers to Bingol, and at the first corner, we heard the sound of guns. It was 18:00. Around 50 PKK members had ordered the occupants of that bus, most of whom were soldiers like us, to get off the bus. I yelled at the bus driver to turn around and stop. He pretended he couldn't hear me. He had been behaving strangely anyway, having stopped for rests three times for a four hour bus trip. The PKK who pulled us off the bus said "We knew you were coming, we were waiting for you." Right then, an older man came out of the dark, yelling. "What have you done to my son?" he was asking. When he said his son's name, it was clear the son was not on the bus. They didn't touch the old men, because of his age. He came and went. We were saved because of that old man. They had thought we were all dead. If he hadn't gone to the military and said that some of us were alive, the terrorists would have killed us all.


    9 more soldiers die because of a mistake

    We walked and walked. The next day around 12, I understood from the sound of gunfire that the military was getting closer. The real operation began at 16:00. Sikorsky and F-16 planes were flying right over our heads. The PKK members hid in the rocks and sniped.


    They left us in the middle as targets. Our soldiers killed 9 of our members by mistake for this reason. There was an incredible rain. At one point, Semdin Sakik came over to us, and was surprised to see we were fine. The terrorists were being called back. There were 13 of us left. Osman Partal, who had a bullet in his knee, was one of us. We succeeded in untying our hands. We began to run. We told some of the terrorists that we met on the road that the others had set us free. They believed it. We were running on a military road. I tied a white hankerchief around the branch of a tree, and I was yelling at the same time. Just as I was finished, I ran into a group of soldiers and commanders. I began to cry when I saw their blue berets.  The commander asked us, "Are any of you PKK?" Then he hugged and kissed us one by one. They brought us to a room at the Bingol Prison, letting us change our clothes and call our families. My mind stopped working after these events. I couldn't even call home, because I had forgotten my phone number.


    Erkan Umay recalls:

    They asked us where we were from. Most of us were from Konya and Denizli. They proceeded to separate us, on the basis that people from the same area made a dangerous group. At one point, one of the soldiers in the group said "I am Kurdish." The PKK said "It doesn't matter, Kurdish or Turkish. A soldier is a soldier. We are the enemies of soldiers." They told us to line up. I was right at the front of the group. My friends marched hand in hand to their deaths.


    The guns did not die down for 10 minutes

    The gunsfire did not die down for 10 minutes. I cannot forget the last look shot to me by my friend Mehmet. If we hadn't traded places in line, I would be dead instead of him. He had a girlfriend in Adana.

     

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