Slain bar head Tahir Elçi commemorated on 8th anniversary of his murder

Loved ones and colleagues commemorated Tahir Elçi, the slain head of the Diyarbakır Bar Association, on the 8th anniversary of his killing in front of the Four-Legged Minaret where Elçi was shot. 

Crowd gathers to commemorate Tahir Elçi. The banner reads in Kurdish and Turkish, "We will not forget you."

Duvar English

Tahir Elçi’s friends, colleagues, and loved ones on Nov. 28 convened in front of the Four-Legged Minaret in Turkey’s southeastern Diyarbakır province where he was murdered 8 years ago and commemorated the life and legacy of the human rights lawyer.

Lawyers from the Diyarbakır bar, Türkan Elçi, People’s Democracy and Equality Party (HEDEP) deputies and co-chair Tülay Hatimoğulları, Başak Demirtaş, Selvi Kılıçdaroğlu, Canan Kaftancıoğlu, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Diyarbakır deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu, civil society organizations, human rights advocates and citizens attended the commemoration. 

Carnations left at the Four-Legged Minaret where Elçi was murdered

Elçi’s wife and CHP deputy Türkan Elçi demanded the illumination of the case that remains unresolved 8 years later.

“We, the persecuted, the pursuers of justice and conscience are here once again to question the lie that has tangled around the four legs of this minaret. We are here to demand rightful justice, which we deserve as citizens of this country, as human beings,” Elçi’s speech began.

“This street taught us that murderers are protected, hidden in caves dark and unyielding,” Elçi said, referring to the street where Tahil Elçi was shot dead during a 2015 press statement by unidentified individuals. 

“This street taught us how the cultural, social, and millennia-long historical memories of the city of our youth were pillaged and destroyed by the brutal hand of war,” Türkan Elçi said referring to the destruction of the historic Sur district in Diyarbakır in the 2015 aftermath of the dissolution of the Peace process.

Heavy skirmishes between PKK fighters and Turkish security forces left a large section of the district in ruins and claimed civilian lives. 

Elçi addressed government officials, “Those who aren’t ashamed of their villainy! Know that we who unite in woe, our tears have no color, ethnicity, language, nationality or race.”

“Those who wish to silence us! Know that we dream of a free, peaceful, harmonious, dignified, nonviolent world.”

Türkan Elçi repeated Tahir Elçi’s resolute call for peace. “We join him in his call and condemn war. We repeat our tireless and unyielding statement: The right to life is sacred, the right to life is sacred, the right to life is sacred.” 

The current head of the Diyarbakır Bar Nahit Eren and Turkish Bar Association Head Erinç Sağkan criticized the “pretend” legal process that remained inconclusive and said that they would never stop demanding answers. 

Eren said, “There is no such thing as a murder the government was unable to resolve. There is only murder the government was unwilling to resolve.” 

“I am ashamed for those who knowingly and willingly left unidentified a murder committed in front of a crowd, in front of cameras,” Bar Association head Sağkan stated. 

Tahir Elçi was killed in broad daylight on Nov. 28, 2015, while speaking to the media to call for an end to the ongoing conflict between Turkish security forces and the PKK. He was also drawing attention to the damage done to the Sur district’s historic sites, including the area surrounding the famous Four-Legged Minaret, during army operations.

Elçi’s press conference was interrupted when two alleged members of the PKK ran through the scene, moments after they had shot and killed two police officers nearby.

Police who had been at the press conference opened fire as the pair ran past, and several shots were fired. Elçi, who was also a vocal human rights activist, was shot in the back of his head and died at the scene.

Forensic Architecture, a research agency based in the University of London, had found that three police officers on the scene were the most likely suspects, ruling out the possibility of PKK killing Elçi in their analysis of camera footage of the shooting. 

The Diyarbakır 10th Heavy Penal Court denied the request to arrest the three officers, Sinan Tabur, Mesut Sevgi, and Fuat Tan despite Forensic Architecture's report.