The first serious death threat I received came in the form of a French saying: “Les cimetières sont remplis de gens indispensables” or “Cemeteries are full of indispensable people.” The person who used it was unaware of what the real meaning of the saying might be. He was a crooked professional administrator, or, as he then loved to be called, a “company doctor” who earned fame through his magical salvaging of companies in trouble. Seeing that he was applying mafia tactics on workers and convincing them through some creative persuasion methods to give up their accrued salary, social payments and such claims, forget going on strike, I had threatened to quit the board of that company. That company collapsed long ago. For the past decade or so that “company doctor” has been serving a lengthy prison sentence for his many wrongdoings.

No one is, of course, indispensable. Yet, there are many people around, at the helm of companies, political parties, in government and elsewhere who behave as if they have no idea that with no exception all living beings will have to taste death one day. Alas, even if it lasted more than 45 years, the rein of Süleyman the Magnificent and, even if he managed to “postpone” the demise of the Ottoman Empire by almost 40 years, the rein of Abdulhamid have long ended and their human bodies, like all those of all other ancestors, have become soil.

I was not an ardent fan of late President Turgut Özal. There were times he greeted us in pajamas for breakfast; there were times he scolded us. Often, we were not on good terms. Indeed, when he died in 1993, on his complaint I was in court, risking many years in jail on charges of insulting the presidential office and thus the Turkish state in an article. The case was dropped following his demise. Later, perhaps seeing his successors, I developed a very strong admiration for him. Too late? Perhaps.

Ever since his death, headed by his wife and elder son Ahmet, many people have been complaining that Özal was poisoned. Was he indeed murdered? Was he like former gendarmerie commander Gen. Eşref Bitlis just another victim of the “war coalition” that did not want a resolution to the Kurdish problem? Those claims and many such plot theories must have been examined during those times, and particularly Özal should not have been laid to rest without a proper autopsy and before his real cause of death was identified by doctors. Not only was an autopsy not conducted, samples from his blood and hair were somehow lost at the hospital also, strengthening suspicions that there was some sort of a cover-up effort.

His son Ahmet, particularly, apart from his failed business concerns, used such plot theories to remain on the agenda of the country. Now with a court order, the remains of Özal were taken out of his mausoleum for examinations that might help to determine whether his death was caused by poison or a heart attack, as is officially reported. Advances in technology would probably help the examination that indeed would have been done with far greater ease and accuracy should it have been conducted in the immediate aftermath of Özal’s demise.

What purpose would it serve now if Özal was indeed killed by poison? Would it be possible to identify, capture and punish his assassins? What started at Özal’s mausoleum yesterday was very unfortunate. Özal deserves to rest in peace; he should not have been irritated.
Özal was so strong once upon a time; he can be irritated even in his grave today. No one is indispensable.