Five years ago, on 28 November 2015, Diyarbakır Bar Association Chair Tahir Elçi was murdered while making a statement to the press in Sur, Diyarbakır.
Elci was a highly respected lawyer who was well known for representing victims at the European Court of Human Rights in a cases relating to forced evictions of Kurdish villages, disappearances, and torture and ill-treatment by the security forces and the Turkish state.
Shortly before his death on live TV Tahir Elçi stated, “The PKK [Kurdistan Workers Party] is not a terrorist organisation.” The CNN, which aired the show, was fined 700 thousand lira and Tahir Elçi was detained as a result.
Elci had also spoken publicly about death threats he recieved, including some which described how they would kill him. Five years after his death, those responsible for murdering Elci have not been brought to justice.
The Turkish government, judiciary and police have shown a complete lack of respect for the rule of law, and failed in their responsibility to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the murder of Elci.
The Turkish authorities’ failure to carry out a prompt, effective, impartial, and independent investigation into Tahir Elci’s death and bring to trial those responsible for his death is unacceptable.
This year international lawyers and human rights organisations have issued statements and written to the Turkish State to call to account the lack of effective investigation into Tahir Elci’s death.
A global coalition of human rights organisations and law societies have written a joint letter to the Turkish authorities to call for:
- the case to be heard by an independent, impartial, and competent court that is capable of establishing the facts and truth around the killing of Mr Elçi
- all future hearings comply with international standards regarding the right to a fair trial, in which the victims’ rights are also recognised
- the lawyers for the Elçi family be given reasonable opportunities to be heard and to make their applications in relation to the procedure and the evidence
- where submissions are refused, reasons for refusal are given in accordance with the case law of the European Court of Human Rights
- a fair judicial procedure be followed, that those who are responsible for Tahir Elçi’s killing are held accountable and serve sentences appropriate to the gravity of the crime committed
- the Elçi family be provided with appropriate redress for the violations they and their loved one have suffered in accordance with the international obligations of Turkey and the Minnesota Protocol.
The full letter and signatories can be found here