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Tahir Elçi: one year after the murder still no truth

Friends of Hrant demand justice for Elçi and Dink

Hrant Dink and Tahir Elçi

Hrant Dink and Tahir Elçi @tahirelci

A year has passed since the murder of Tahir Elçi, a Kurdish lawyer, human rights activist and Chairman of Diyarbakir Bar Association, and the investigations have not yet led to any results. Elçi was killed on Nov. 28, 2015 in an armed clash between unidentified persons and police officers, as he spoke to reporters in the Sur district, the oldest part of Diyarbakir destroyed by the fightings between the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK ) and the security forces, which have had devastating effects on civilian population, villages and cities. Elçi was denouncing the damages to historical buildings and the violence on citizens, demanding an end to the fightings.

The investigation at the crime scene had been impeded by the continuing armed attacks and was completed only four months later, in March. Besides, the investigating prosecutor of Elçi case has been changed three times as part of the reshuffle ordered by the government in the judiciary following the failed coup in July 2015. “On November, the prosecutor was reassigned. We met with the newly-assigned prosecutor, who also said that he has to examine the file", Diyarbakir Bar Association Chairman Ahmet Özmen told to Turkish-Armenian weekly newspaper Agos. "We provided the security footage of a restaurant near the crime scene. It has been a year since we have given this evidence, but they still haven't done anything about it. This alone reveals the fact that there is no effective and fast investigation process.”

Agos, founded by Hrant Dink, the Turkish journalist of Armenian origin killed in January 2007, has highlighted the demand for justice launched by the Friends of Hrant, the organization founded by Dink friends and followers, who gathered outside the court house in Istanbul for a hearing of Dink murder case. "The first step in the investigation on Dink murder was taken nine years after the murder. We shouldn't let something like this happen in investigation on Tahir Elçi murder," Friends of Hrant told in a statement, pointing out "the many similarities between the murders of these two peace envoys" and adding that "the State has been trying to conceal both of these murders."

Elçi had distinguished himself in the defense of the tortured detainees and victims of enforced disappearances, cooperating with international organizations and taking cases to the European Court of Human Rights. He was also among the founding members of Amnesty International in Turkey. Ten thousands people attended his funeral with his family members, representatives of all associations of lawyers in Turkey, rights activists and political organizations.

After his death the situation in the Kurdish provinces has worsened because of the crackdown launched by the Turkish government in the aftermath of the failed coup, which has been extended throughout the country in order to eliminate the alleged coup plotters and silence the opposition. A situation denounced by Brando Benifei, MEP of the Party of European Socialists (PES), after a mission in Turkey with other party members to bring solidarity to Selahattin Demirtaş, Co-Leader of the left-wing pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), and to other parliamentarians jailed by Erdogan.

"Europe, while not closing the door completely, can no longer stand idly by while a so geographically close government puts in prison the members of its own Parliament, dozens of journalists, opposition politicians, judges, mayors, not to mention the armed conflict in the Kurd Southeast, we have almost ignored" said Benifei to Eunews. The PES delegation was not allowed to meet Demirtaş, but managed to visit Cumhuriyet independent daily, whose editor-in-chief was arrested in late October, while the former chief editor was sentenced to over 5 years in prison for an article on arms trafficking between the Intelligence and the ISIS. "Being present on site has allowed us to show to the HDP detainee leaders and deputies that they are not forgotten and that Europe looks at what is happening in Turkey with great attention and concern," Benifei said.

by Viviana Vestrucci

28 November 2016

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