HDP seeks parliamentary inquiry into Elçi’s killing, cites similarities to Dink murder

HDP seeks parliamentary inquiry into Elçi’s killing, cites similarities to Dink murder

HDP seeks parliamentary inquiry into Elçi’s killing, cites similarities to Dink murder

Protesters hold pictures of lawyer Tahir Elçi reading "They slaughtered him!" during a demostration on İstiklal avenue in Istanbul after he was killed in Diyarbakır on November 28, 2015. AFP Photo

The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has appealed to launch a parliamentary inquiry into the killing of Tahir Elçi, president of the Diyarbakır Bar Association, citing similarities between events proceeding Elçi’s killing and those surrounding the 2007 killing of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink.

“Tahir Elçi devoted his life to the struggle of finding and penalizing perpetrators and instigators of actor unknown murders. In that sense, he was a target for some ‘deep structures’ who are known to have carried out actor unknown murders and who lend open support to the AKP [Justice and Development Party] rule,” İdris Baluken, HDP’s Diyarbakır PM and a deputy parliamentary group chair, said in his proposal filed to parliament speaker’s office on Nov. 30 to “reveal the process which turned Elçi into a target and which laid the ground for his slaughtering.”

Baluken explained Elçi was made a target after Elçi’s controversial remarks concerning the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has killed dozens of Turkish soldiers since the resumption of hostilities this past summer. “The PKK is [the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] not a terror organization,’” Elçi was quoted saying Oct. 14 on CNN Türk during a live interview.

“The PKK is a political movement that has important political demands and that enjoys widespread support, even if some of its actions are of a terrorist nature,” Elçi said, sparking anger. His remarks then led to a one-day detainment, after which he was released pending trial. In an indictment prepared by Bakırköy Public Prosecutor’s Office, Elçi was charged with spreading terrorist propaganda. He risked up to seven years in prison if convicted. CNN Türk was also fined 70,000 Turkish Liras by Turkey’s media board, the Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTÜK), for “praising a terrorist organization.”

According to Baluken, the opening of a legal case against Elçi was the government’s contribution “to the lynching regime.” He added that Elçi had announced that he had received death threats as this environment of “lynching” intensified.

“Both the pool media of the political power and the circles that are close to deep structures from 1990s, which are hand in glove with the ruling party, have strengthened this lynching regime day by day,” Baluken said, using the word “pool” to describe corporate owners whose media properties are at the service of the government.

“The process which ended with slaughtering of Tahir Elçi proceeded similarly to the process leading to the slaughtering of Armenian intellectual Hrant Dink, who was slain on Jan. 19, 2007,” Baluken said.

In a 2006 court decision which the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) strongly condemned as a violation of free speech, the Supreme Court of Appeals, Turkey’s highest court, upheld the conviction of Dink, a Turkish-Armenian journalist,  for “insulting Turkishness” under the infamous Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code. 

Dink, who was the editor-in-chief of the weekly Agos, was shot dead outside its office building in Istanbul’s Şişli district on Jan. 19, 2007 by 17-year-old Ogün Samast.

Dink’s conviction was related to a series of articles he wrote in 2004 in which he called on the Armenian diaspora to stop focusing on Turks and focus their attention instead on the welfare of Armenia. He also said Armenian enmity toward the Turks “[had] a poisoning effect on [their] blood.” Dink alleged in court that this remark, which the prosecution claimed meant Turkish blood was poison, was taken out of context.

“Those who interpret my articles with such a distorted view cannot gain credit with their interpretations of historical facts or with the so-called evidence they present to explain historical facts. The way they interpret my articles also reflects the way they interpret historical facts,” Dink told Hürriyet Daily News in 2006.