Turks in Germany, ‘We won’t allow a cover up’

Turks in Germany, ‘We won’t allow a cover up’

ERFURT / BERLIN - Hürriyet Daily News
Turks in Germany, ‘We won’t allow a cover up’

The Turkish parliamentary group poses with members of the inquiry commission in Thüringen’s state Parliament.

The discovery of a neo-Nazi cell that was apparently able to go on a nationwide spree of racially motivated murders of 9 immigrants over several years, under the noses of the German intelligence services, has sent shock waves across the country.

“German ministers said they were shocked. We told them we are surprised that they are surprised,” said Hilmi Kaya Turan, deputy head of the Turkish Community in Germany, or ATT, one of the hundreds of nongovernmental organizations representing the 3 million-strong Turkish-German community. “The fact that they are surprised actually frightens us,” he told a visiting Turkish parliamentary group, invited by the German government.

The ATT is currently preparing for the commemoration this year of the 1992 Möln tragedy, in which three Turkish women died in an arson attack. This will be followed next year by another ceremony commemorating the 1993 killing of five Turkish girls and women in Solingen, in a blaze started by German youths.  With these two tragedies in the background, recent revelations that intelligence agencies had had the neo-Nazi group that killed the immigrants under surveillance for years has fueled speculation among Turks that some state institutions are behind a campaign to harass immigrants and force them to leave Germany.

A public poll showed that two thirds of Turks living in Germany believe the German state is behind the murders, either by supporting the group or by turning a blind eye to it, according to Kenan Kolat, the head of ATT.“The German ministers seem more worried about the image of Germany abroad, but what is more important is the racism in society. This needs to be tackled,” said Turan.

“It was very useful to be informed. I’ve become hopeful that this time the issue is being taken seriously,” said Tunca Toskay, the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) member present in the delegation.

However, the fact that some of the information in the hands of the security services is difficult to access due to the statute of limitations is making the task of commissions both at federal and state level difficult. Some German opposition members are not convinced that the government, a coalition of Christian Democrats and Liberals is doing enough to seriously pursue the issue. “They are still hiding some information that is easy to access,” opposition Social Democrat Party member Peter Metz and Dirk Adams of the Greens, who are both on the Thüringen parliamentary commission, told the Daily News.

Concerns over inquiry

“I have concerns about the ability of the commissions to access the right information,” Çiğdem Münevver Öktem from the ruling Turkish Justice and Development Party told the Daily News at the end of their visit.

However, ATT members who are monitoring every hearing in the federal parliament believe that the inquiry commission is doing its job seriously. “Important information has been revealed during the meetings of the commissions. This will be impossible to cover up, and we won’t allow a cover up” Kolat said.

The fact that all parties have accepted the formation of an inquiry commission - both at the federal and the state level - which is a first in German history, is also a development that has not gone unnoticed by the Turkish MPs.

“What brings us together is our common values. The Turkish communities were held responsible for these murders. One of our aims is for them to regain their honor,” said Metz.

“It is very important that all political parties have reached a common language on a universal value, which is about human life,” said Şafak Pavey from opposition People’s Republican Party. “They need to transfer this common language to the street as well.”

“I was impressed that Germany officially apologized to the victims’ families,” said Nazmi Gür of the Peace and Democracy Party. “The fact that we were invited was important in order to show transparency. I sometimes thought that if the state, the government or the Parliament in Turkey had shown similar reflexes in similar cases of unsolved killings, or cases like the (Turkish – Armenian journalist) Hrant Dink murder or the Uludere tragedy (where 34 civilians thought to be terrorists were bombed.)

The group was impressed by Professor Barbara John who is the ombudswoman for the families of the victims. She has been dealing with demands of the victims’ families, such as renaming streets in honor of the victims, and has also developed proposals aimed at avoiding the repetition of past mistakes. “If an immigrant is a victim of a criminal act, then the suspicion of right wing extremism as a motive should be automatic,” she told the Turkish delegation.  

“What matters is that Turkish community is convinced that the authorities are genuinely pursuing the issue and taking the necessary measures to abolish the environment where right wing extremists are nurtured,” said Toskay.