Fourth anniversary prominent Kurdish lawyer’s murder commemorated

Tahir Elci, the former head of the Diyarbakir Bar Association and a human rights activist, has been remembered by his family members and colleagues on the fourth anniversary of his murder in southeastern Turkey.

Four years after his killing in Diyarbakir on November 28, 2015, multiple commemoration events were held for the pro-Kurdish lawyer in several cities across Turkey.

According to a report by the Gazete Duvar news portal, Elci’s family, members of the Tahir Elci Human Rights Foundation, 25 bar associations’ heads and hundreds of lawyers attended an event taking place in Diyarbakir.

The attendees reportedly walked from the Diyarbakir Courthouse to the Sheikh Matar Mosque, also known as the Four-Legged Minaret by locals, where the lawyer was shot dead during a press statement.

“We came again two your four-legged door,” Turkan Elci, the wife of the slain lawyer, said in a speech she made there, referring to the mosque.

“It’s November again, it’s fall. … We couldn’t bring justice to this street,” she added.

Addressing her husband, Elci further stated: “We are here, call to us and tell us about the sanctity of life, rights, and the law. Shout out the supremacy of free speech and that torture is a violation of human rights, again, like you had done for years.”

“Shout out that it is heinous to shoot in the back a man who demands peace.”

Referring to the way Elci was murdered, she indicated that the authorities want to make them believe that it was a coincidence.

“Yet we know that the barrel pointed towards you was intentional and real. [Killing a man by] firing one bullet has nothing to do with making a mistake,” she explained.

Following a moment of silence for the late Kurdish lawyer, Diyarbakir Bar Association Chair Cihan Aydin also made a speech, noting that the human rights situation is deteriorating in Turkey with murders being covered up by officials.

“You had a dream of peace. Unfortunately, it’s still not even mentioned [by anybody]. But don’t feel sad, the number of the peace-lovers [in Turkey] is now more than when you left. … They are more eager than ever to spread the idea of peace to every inch of the country, and even the world,” he said.

Addressing Elci, Aydin promised that they will continue to strenuously follow up his case, even though the officials want to leave it as an unsolved murder.

He elaborated: “The murder was committed on camera. Their aim was not only to claim your life but also to intimidate your companions. But you know that we will not be afraid, we’ll resist and we’ll win.”

Cumhuriyet daily also reported on Thursday that lawyers, including a delegate of French lawyers, who gathered in Ankara for Elci, were prevented by police from opening banners in front of the Turkish capital’s courthouse on the grounds that the event was not authorized.

The daily quoted one of the lawyers as saying, “We take the lives and struggles of all our murdered colleagues, especially Tahir Elci, as a reference. We will never forget him.”

Elci was killed at a time when Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) ended its two-year-long peace process with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which resulted in the armed conflict taking place between Turkish forces and the Kurdish militants in the country’s southeast.

He was shot dead during a press conference where he was calling on Ankara and the PKK, which has waged a separatist insurgency in southeastern Turkey since 1984, to keep clashes away from civilian areas in the region.

After four years, there has been no effective investigation into the Elci’s murder and the perpetrators have still not been brought to justice.

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