Killed bar head Tahir Elçi remembered on second anniversary of death
Tahir Elçi, the former head of the Diyarbakır Bar Association, was commemorated on the second anniversary of his death on Nov. 28, with several events organized in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır.
Elçi, who was also a vocal human rights activist, was killed in broad daylight on Nov. 28, 2015, in the central Sur district of the city while making a public statement to draw attention to the damage done to the district’s historic sites, including the area surrounding the famous Four-Legged Minaret.
Despite two years passing since the incident, not a single suspect has been determined in connection to the murder.
A ceremony was held on Nov. 28 near the Four-Legged Minaret with the participation of lawmakers, bar heads, writers, activists and non-governmental organization representatives, as well as Elçi’s relatives and Diyarbakır residents.
The ceremony started with a moment of silence in memory of Elçi.
“The pain and anger in our hearts is growing,” current Diyarbakır Bar Association head Ahmet Özmen said at the ceremony, which was followed by the laying of carnations on the police barricades set up in front of the Four-Legged Minaret.
Elçi’s wife Türkan Elçi, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmakers Osman Baydemir, Meral Danış Beştaş and Nimetullah Erdoğmuş, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul lawmaker Sezgin Tanrıkulu, and more than 20 bar heads were among those who attended the commemoration.
The perpetrator of the Elçi murder remains unknown and security forces have yet to conclude whether it was an assassination or whether he was killed in a clash between police and militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The prosecutor of the murder case has been changed three times since the incident and the bullet that killed Elçi has yet to be found, making any ballistic match-up impossible. What’s more, 13 seconds of the police footage regarding the moment of Elçi’s death remains missing.
Before his killing, Elçi had received a number of death threats after saying on private broadcaster CNN Türk that he did not view the PKK as a terrorist organization.
After his death, Elçi’s wife Türkan Elçi quit her job as a teacher in Diyarbakır and moved to Istanbul to study law. She now aims to establish the Tahir Elçi Human Rights Foundation with her daughter Nazenin.
“I decided to study law before Tahir was killed. We actually made that decision together. I wanted to study law without quitting my job as a literature teacher. I was planning to spend more time with my husband ... But this didn’t happen. What is left to say?” Elçi told daily Hürriyet.
“At first studying law was tough because I remembered Tahir in all the pages … But I didn’t quit and I’m not thinking of quitting,” she said.
Regarding the killing of her husband, Elçi said they were “left in hopelessness.”
“The course of the judicial process has proceeded in parallel with the increasing chaos in society. We were left to ourselves without a solution and without hope,” she added.
“After I graduate the foundation will heal me. Whenever people lose their loved ones, they always struggle to keep them alive. That is what my struggle is like,” Elçi said.
CHP deputy Tanrıkulu, meanwhile, penned a column in memory of Tahir Elçi, a close friend and colleague of 25 years, on the news website Duvar.
“We cannot describe how we miss him. We miss the moments when we were able to laugh despite all the pain around us,” Tanrıkulu wrote.
“Tahir was a lawyer who developed himself under extremely difficult circumstances. He was, of course, affected by his older relatives who were engaged in politics to defend rights. However, from the early years of his youth he worked to ensure justice, turning this into a lifestyle,” he added.
“Tahir couldn’t save himself from the traps that were set against him and neither could we save him. He was targeted just because he said, ‘People shouldn’t die, humanity shouldn’t be ruined and bloodshed needs to stop.’ They took him from us but they will never take Tahir’s naïve, pure smile from us. We will make that smile live on by carrying it in our minds and hearts forever,” Tanrıkulu wrote.