Young woman remains missing one year after disappearance, main suspect still free

The main suspect in the disappearance of 21-year-old Gülistan Doku in eastern Turkey's Dersim province, Zaynal Abarakov remains free a year after the young woman went missing. The stepson of a police officer, Abarakov has only testified to police during the past year and even left the country.

Nuray Pehlivan / DUVAR

The main suspect in the disappearance of 21-year-old Gülistan Doku, Zaynal Abarakov, remains free one year after her disappearance, during which he has given three statements to the police. Doku remains missing, despite efforts.  

Doku went missing on Jan. 5, 2020, and Abrakov was the last person to speak to her that day in Turkey's eastern province of Dersim.

Abarakov's stepfather is a police officer in the province and had access to the case file of Doku's disappearance.

Although the young woman was initially said to have died by suicide, an expert report disproved this with images depicting a body near a local bridge, which didn't turn out to be her's. 

During the 52 days after Doku's disappearance, the prime suspect, Abarakov, did not send her a single text message.

Days before Abarakov's phone was taken by authorities for examination, he sent Doku a flurry of messages, saying “Where are you, I love you.”

"The most important thing us women can do for Gülistan is to push for the main suspect Abarakov, who has only given three statements to the police, to be prosecuted," said Gül Gökboğa, a member of non-governmental women's organization Özgür Genç Kadın ("Free Young Woman" in Turkish). 

The narrative of Doku's suicide was manufactured to prevent Abarakov from being detained, Gökboğa said, adding that the second round of search efforts for Doku was only initiated as a result of women's efforts on social media.

"We see that us women have to make sure justice is carried out ourselves. Meanwhile, the government plays it by the ear and acts depending on the public's reaction."

Gökboğa also said that Abarakov's escape from Turkey was facilitated by the same authorities who prosecuted Doku's sister for continuously speaking out about her disappearance.

"These are the same people who accused Gülistan's mother of being a bully when she said 'at least bring me her bones,' because she had lost hope that her daughter was alive," Gökboğa said.

Women across Turkey are set to gather on Jan. 5 to ask for accountability and resolution in the case of Gülistan Doku. 

"Us women will never stop asking about Gülistan because there are so many women like Gülistan."