Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party calls for justice for murdered volunteer


IZMIR, Turkey – On June 17 at 10:50 a.m., a bulky young man with tattoos and cut off gloves, wearing a leather vest and carrying a heavy bag, walked into the Izmir office of the People’s Democratic Party. Kurdish (HDP) and fired four shots at a young female party volunteer. Then he took a photo of her while she was lying on the floor dying and posted it on her WhatsApp status with the word “Body 1” on it.

Onur Gencer, a health worker who served in the Turkish special forces in Manbij, Syria in January-February 2020, told police he intended to kill more people but was “disappointed at find [just Deniz Poyraz] there. “What he originally planned to do, he told police in his 27-page testimony, was to kill Kurdish politicians such as jailed former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas, the current HDP co-chairman Pervin Buldan and veteran Kurdish politician Leyla Zana. Realizing that it would be too difficult, he set out to attack the party office in Izmir. Then he strolled around the building until he knew the “Local members’ daily schedule and buy at least one gun to carry out the attack.” I acted alone, “he said in his first statement to police.

HDP lawyers and party members disagree. At a press conference in Izmir ahead of the scheduled trial on December 29, four HDP members said Gencer’s links to the security and intelligence officers he worked with should have been investigated thorough, but were not. They also called on representatives of human rights, bars and political parties to appear jointly in court to observe the trial. Various bar associations and women’s groups said they would send representatives to the trial.

According to HDP members and party lawyers, Gencer is the ‘man of the fall’ whose links, if carefully deciphered, can reveal a complex web of relationships involving a private security firm close to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan , police and members of the security and intelligence apparatus, including those with whom Gencer served in Syria.

“It wasn’t just the lone wolf act of a mentally deranged young man. It was a planned political attack in cold blood to kill six party members, including the local president who escaped because he went out to buy a pack of cigarettes ”, Turkan Aslan Agac, lawyer and HDP legal and human rights committee member, Al-Monitor told Al-Monitor. “We want to see a full investigation that would reveal the others behind the crime, those who encouraged and used this shooter, those who provided aid and logistics and put money in his pocket. These are the ones we are looking for.

Flipping through a large file in his office before the trial, Agac showed Al-Monitor photos of Gencer as he fired shots in Manjib in Syria, practiced shooting at a lodge in Izmir, and an photo of the accused after the arrest where he is not seen in an ordinary interrogation room but in a place with leather armchairs and a coffee machine. His notes included the contacts Gencer had with the police and security officials he worked with in Manjib and kept in touch with, often discussing the best weapons to use. “They need to be questioned,” she said. “Most of them didn’t.”

Agac described Gencer as “a young man whose anger was carefully directed against minorities and other groups presented as enemies of the state”.

“Do you remember Ogun Samast (the 17-year-old who shot Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007)? Murat Cepni, HDP MK from Izmir, asked Al-Monitor. “It was first seen as the act of an ultranationalist, only to reveal years later the role of security and intelligence officials in planning and assisting in the murder. We want this murder to be fully investigated, but what we see instead is withholding evidence such as failing to reveal the phone records of the 27 calls Gencer made to someone or to people. people at the Izmir police headquarters before the attack.

Cepni also points to SADAT, a private security company run by someone close to Erdogan. Gangster-turned-YouTuber Sedat Peker accused the company of sending truckloads of weapons to Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, in 2015, although the company’s CEO and Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkish Foreign Minister at the time denied the allegations. Shortly after Poyraz’s murder, Sedat Peker tweeted that “worse things were to come” and urged the Kurds not to take to the streets.

“[Gencer] was taken to Syria to be trained as an assassin; he learned to shoot by SADAT, ”Cepni told Al-Monitor, echoing the claim made by other HDP members following the murder. The opposition, both from the Republican People’s Party and the HDP, asked Defense Minister Hulusi Akar why Gencer was sent to Syria and if he had any ties to SADAT during his stay, but Akar replied that the matter did not fall within the scope of the Ministry of Defense. The prosecutor’s indictment says that despite investigations into the young man’s activities in Syria, there has been no evidence of Gencer’s ties to SADAT. However, the report quotes taxi drivers who regularly drove Gencer to the lodge as saying the young man kept asking people for money over the phone.

Earlier this month, HDP lawyers filed a lawsuit against police and National Intelligence Organization (MIT) agents on the grounds that no investigation has been opened into the security or intelligence officers. considered responsible, negligent or deliberately inactive in stopping the attack. “There is a security post in front of the HDP office, and there is an anti-terrorism office on the same street,” Agac told Al-Monitor. “Not only was the party not well protected before the crime, but once the first shots were heard it took the men in armored vests 40 minutes to get there. We will discuss at the first trial [on Dec. 29] all the neglect, the missing parts of the indictment, all the platforms that should have been explored but weren’t. “

“This is not just a murder case, but a hate crime, an attack on a political party, an attack on the constitutional order,” Cepni said. “What makes it possible is the atmosphere created by the ruling party and its coalition partner, which constantly targets our party and our members.”

The HDP, Turkey’s second-largest opposition party which won 11.7% of the national vote in the 2018 elections, is currently threatened with closure after the country’s top prosecutor called for the party to be disbanded on charges related to the terrorism and the ban on 450 party members from political activity. office for five years. Bekir Sahin, chief prosecutor of the Court of Cassation of Turkey, said in his revised indictment earlier this fall that the party has become “a focal point of acts against the indivisible integrity of the state and the nation ”.


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