Death penalty brings memoirs from past

Death penalty brings memoirs from past

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Death penalty brings memoirs from past

Şahin Kambur shows a model house, made by his brother during his time in jail. Mehmet Kambur was executed by the junta after the 1980 coup. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent comments in support of reinstating capital punishment have reopened painful wounds for relatives of prisoners that were executed during Turkey’s darkest years.

“There should be no executions in Turkey, this is not the solution,” said Şahin Kambur, who was 12 when his brother Mehmet Kambur was executed by the junta that came to power in the Sept. 12, 1980 coup on accusations of being a member of an illegal leftist organization.

Şahin Kambur told the Hürriyet Daily News that he was only 12 when his 29-year-old brother was executed, adding that this incident affected a major part of his life.

“They were talking about it at home. I felt that something would happen, but I didn’t know what execution meant then,” Kambur said. Kambur said his brother’s body was not delivered to the family after the execution and that no religious ceremony was held for him, thereby causing great suffering to the family.

“Execution is not a disciplinary punishment; it is only a power play. Nobody should be executed whatever the reason is, it is a political murder,” he said. “The recent discussions on the death penalty have stirred the memories of my childhood. I don’t want to believe the prime minister’s statements. How can one who abolished the death penalty bring it back into force? I guess he is trying to threaten [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader] Abdullah Öcalan.”

In a speech delivered at the Bali Democracy Forum in Indonesia on Nov. 9, Erdoğan said capital punishment “is legitimate in certain situations.” Implicitly noting that Turkey had abolished the death penalty as part of its drive to join the European Union, Erdoğan said capital punishment existed in a number of countries around the world.