Kurdish woman Emine Şenyaşar seeks justice for 5 years for her family killed by AKP MP’s relatives

Emine Şenyaşar lost her husband and two sons on June 14, 2018 in the Suruç district of Southeastern Şanlurfa province when AKP MP İbrahim Halil Yıldız’s bodyguards and relatives attacked the family during the MPs election campaign. Şenyaşar has been holding a “vigil for justice” in front of the Şanlıurfa Courthouse since 2021.

Emine Şenyaşar and her son during their vigil for justice

Can Bodrumlu / Duvar English

Ten days before the general elections in 2018, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Şanlıurfa MP İbrahim Halil Yıldız entered the Şenyaşar family's shop during his visits to shopkeepers in the Suruç district of Southeastern Şanlıurfa province. When the family said they would not vote for him, an argument broke out in the shop.

The quarrel between the Şenyaşar brothers and İbrahim Halil Yıldız's brother Mehmet Yıldız, his nephew İbrahim Yıldız and his bodyguards soon turned into a fight with fists and sticks. 

According to the CCTV footage, İbrahim Yıldız shot Celal Şenyaşar with a gun in the shop. Mehmet Yıldız and the Şenyaşar brothers were wounded. The wounded were taken to the hospital by ambulance, but Mehmet Yıldız died there. Thereupon, the Yıldız family and their relatives stormed the hospital with long-barreled weapons. They fired at the ambulance containing the Şenyaşar brothers and killed Adil and Celal Şenyaşar.

When father Hacı Esvet and mother Emine Şenyaşar came to the hospital, the AKP MP’s relatives also lynched the father to death. 

The seriously wounded brother Fadıl Şenyaşar was later arrested and sent to prison. In 2019, 15 months after the incident, the AKP MP's brother Enver Yıldız turned himself in at the courthouse with an army of 50 bodyguards and was arrested and sent to prison. In 2021, Fadıl Şenyaşar was sentenced to 37 years in prison, and AKP MP’s brother to 18 years.

Since then, Emine Şenyaşar has been saying that his son was unlawfully arrested, that 23 members of the Yıldız family who murdered his sons and husband are walking around Suruç freely and that justice must be served.

18 months after the incident, the Urfa Chief Public Prosecutor's Office prepared an indictment only for the incident at the shop. The indictment did not include the murders in the hospital where the actual attack against the Şenyaşar family took place. 

On March 8, 2021, Emine Şenyaşar, together with her son Ferit started their “vigil for justice” in front of the Şanlıurfa Courthouse. During this vigil, the mother and her son were detained several times, and lawsuits were filed against them. Şenyaşar was even put on trial with a charge of up to for years in prison for “insulting” the AKP MP Yıldız. They still continue to wait in front of the courthouse every day. 

The police often try to prevent Şenyaşar's vigil.

After a nearly 5-year investigation, 4 people were arrested in connection with the attacks at the hospital in 2022. Two people were later released, and two people remained in pre-trial detention. The trial of 14 defendants started on charges of "intentional killing" and "attempted intentional killing" in early 2023. Nonetheless, the hospital security camera footage, which was the main evidence “could not be found.”

Emine Şenyaşar’s son has been held in solitary confinement for five years. She has been stating that attackers have been using their political influence to manipulate the judicial process and threaten her remaining family members. 

Şenyaşar’s struggle for justice has resurfaced on social media after the main opposition bloc’s presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu mentioned her in a viral YouTube talk show that he attended was released on May 25.  In the program, Kılıçdaroğlu said that the prosecutors could not write the indictment “out of fear” for a very long time and that he instructed his party cadres to take a special interest in the issue. The Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) also has been following the Şenyaşar family's struggle for justice.

Kılıçdaroğlu's visit to Emine Şenyaşar's vigil