Kemal Kurkut, 23 year old university student at the Fine Arts Faculty, was killed by police during the Newroz celebrations in Diyarbakır -a southeastern province of Turkey- on 21st March 2017.
According to the Dicle News Agency (DIHA) Kurkut was shot despite a “Don’t shoot” order of the police chief.
The published photos of the murder were documented by DIHA editor Abdurrahman Gok at the time of the incident.
The photos show that Kurkut was arguing with police at the checkpoint and started to run shirtless through the checkpoint. Some police officers fired in the air and some fired on him.
The expert report from General Command of Gendarmerie states that the bullet which killed Kurkut was fired by the defendant police officer Yakup Senocak.
Senocak who suspended from duty 3 months and was facing 9 years prison term for “deliberately causing death by negligence”. And today, despite the clear evidence and expert reports Senocak was acquitted at the Heavy Penal Court in Diyarbakır at the 12th hearing of the case.
Gok’s photo journalism refuted the claims that Kurkut was “suspected to be a suicide attacker.” Gok’s home was raided by police one month after the photos of the fatal shooting were published. Since the incident Turkish authorities have launched several investigations about the journalist’s reports and once he was detained for 3 days based on fabricated witness claims. Finally he was accused of “making terrorist propaganda” and now faces 20 years in jail. The first hearing of the indictment about Gok will be held on February 23, 2021 at Diyarbakır High Criminal Court.
Impunity for the police and a crackdown on journalists who dare to report the crimes of the security personnel are very common in Turkey. Authorities are trying to create a “climate of fear” for journalists by mass arrests, detentions and trials. The allegations of terrorist links has become a tool of suppression used frequently by the current AKP government, which exercises significant control over the police and judiciary.