Turkish prosecutors ask detainees if they were ‘ordered’ to join Hrant Dink commemoration

A group of people who were detained on Nov. 26 on terrorism charges has been asked by prosecutors if they had received “orders” from the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) to participate in the commemoration ceremony of Hrant Dink, an Armenian-Turkish journalist who was killed in Istanbul in 2007. Lawyer Veysi Eski said that this question shows what a “nonsensical” investigation is run by the authorities and “how every action on the street is tried to be criminalized.”

Every year in Turkey, crowds gather to mark the assassination of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink.

Rojda Oğuz / DUVAR

Turkish police on Nov. 26 detained 19 people, including Cihan Yavuz, the deputy mayor of Istanbul's Şişli district run by the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), in an operation targeting the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK). 

The KCK is an umbrella organization of Kurds in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran, and includes both legal movements, as well as groups designated as terrorist by Turkey, such as the PKK.

On Dec. 2, six of the detained were arrested by a court order on charges of “membership of a terrorist organization,” while 10 others were released under judicial control measures.

Among the accusations against Yavuz is that he held interviews with regards to hunger strikes pioneered by Leyla Güven, co-leader of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), an umbrella group of civil society organizations based in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır.

During their detention under police custody, prosecutors asked several questions to the 19 people. Lawyer Veysi Eski said that one of these questions was that if his clients had joined the commemoration ceremony of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink “upon orders of the KCK.”

“My clients' previous telephone conversations had been wiretapped and authorities tried to criminalize these conversations. Since sounds coming from one of these conversations indicated that my client had participated in Hrant [Dink] commemoration ceremony, they were asked, 'Did you participate in the ceremony upon orders?'” said lawyer Eski.

“Since they knew that there were no criminal elements in these telephone conservations, they asked such a mind-bending question,” he said.

Eski said that questions asked to his clients show what a “nonsensical” investigation is run by the authorities. “This question and investigation present an example as to how every action on the street is criminalized,” he said.

Every year in Turkey, crowds gather to mark the assassination of Dink, who was killed in Istanbul on Jan. 19, 2007.