Abdi Ipekci. Uğur Mumcu. Hrant Dink.
And then, on November 28 of this year, Tahir Elçi.
The murder of journalists and human rights defenders in Turkey has a long and tragic history. More often than not, the circumstances of the murders remain murky, justice is never truly served. The murder of Tahir Elçi was more than the killing of a kind and gentle man, it deprived Turkey of one of its most important voices for justice and human rights.
Cale Salih, in a beautiful essay for the New York Times on Elçi‘s death says, “It feels inadequate to describe him as a moderate, but that is what he was in the finest sense of the word — sober, tolerant, and thoughtful. “A defender of human rights in Turkey for more than two decades, Elçi was murdered with a single bullet to the head. His last recorded words were “we don’t want guns here, clashes, or [police] operations.”
Amnesty International’s Turkey Researcher, Andrew Gardner writes:
As mourners prepared to bury Tahir Elçi, the sounds of gunfire could be heard. As the funeral drew to a close, reports circulated that a woman had been shot and seriously wounded in the district. By then a police officer had already tweeted “You are next” to Tahir’s wife, Türkan Elçi. In these bleak days for human rights in Turkey, Tahir Elçi’s death creates a void that cannot be filled. He is sorely missed.
The circumstances of his death are unclear, but Amnesty notes that the investigation got off to bad start.
A thorough crime scene investigation was not carried out immediately and the crime scene was not secured, yet the authorities claim to have recovered the bullet that killed him three days after his death.
What you can do
Amnesty has called on people worldwide to take steps in the face of this tragic murder.
Please take a moment to write to Turkish authorities calling for justice in this murder. There is an electronic form for doing so here (with additional space to send a message of condolence or solidarity to his family if you would like to do so.)
Tahir Elçi was a man devoted to peaceful action in the name of justice. It is now up to us to carry on that struggle.
St. Lawrence University