Kurdish youth Kemal Kurkut commemorated at the place of murder

Citizens and politicians have joined a commemoration ceremony held for Kemal Kurkut, a Kurdish youth who was killed by police during the 2017 Newroz celebration in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır. At the place of Kurkut’s death, HDP co-chair Mithat Sancar held a speech and recalled that the officer who killed the Kurdish youth was previously acquitted of the charges, adding to the list of police impunity cases.

Citizens and politicians leave carnations at the place of Kemal Kurkut's murder on March 21.

Duvar English

Kemal Kurkut, who was killed by police during a Newroz celebration in the southeastern Diyarbakır province in 2017, was commemorated on March 21 on Evrim Alataş Avenue, where he was shot.

Several politicians attended the ceremony, including Democratic Society Congress (DTK) co-chair Berdan Öztürk, Democratic Regions Party (DBP) co-chair Saliha Aydeniz, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Mithat Sancar, Green Left Party co-chair Çiğdem Kılıçgün Uçar, Kurdish politician Ahmet Türk and several other HDP deputies. They have left carnations at Kurkut’s place of death.

HDP co-chair Sancar held a short speech here, according to reporting by the Mezopotamya News Agency. “Newroz is the day of hope of new life. Newroz is the day when life force has enlivened but since 2017, there has been a fire in our hearts that burns with pain every Newroz. This fire’s name is Kemal Kurkut,” Sancar said.

Sancar recalled that the police officer who killed Kurt was previously acquitted of the charges, adding to the list of police impunity cases in Turkey.

“All of the investigations and cases launched have, one by one, dropped and an acquittal decision was handed down. Thereby, the explicitly-committed murder has been absolved through the hands of the judiciary and state’s various organs. But those decisions are not valid for us,” he said.

The 23-year-old university student Kurkut was killed by the police officer Yakup Şenocak on March 21, 2017 in Diyarbakır's Bağcılar district. 

Police at the time said that he might have been a suicide bomber - a statement that drew ire since Kurkut was not wearing a shirt, looking unarmed, and did not aim a knife he carried at anyone.

The case was taken to an appeals court but the Diyarbakır Regional Court of Justice ruled in 2022 that Kurkut was killed “within the legal framework.”