Turkey: 500 days since the assassination of Tahir Elci, Turkey’s human rights activist

April 13, 2017

Tahir Elci was shot and killed during a 2015 press conference at a historic mosque in the old city of Diyarbakir, in south-eastern Turkey at the age of 49. His assassination came weeks after he spoke on television and suggested that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was an armed political organization, not a terrorist organization. He had, however, denounced PKK violence over the years.

Before his murder, Elci posted to his Twitter account saying that he had received death threats because of his televised comments defending the rebels. On October 20, 2015, he was detained by the police on charges of spreading “terrorist propaganda” for which he would have faced more than seven years in prison.

When he was shot dead days later in Diyarbakir after having been released pending trial. He was making a statement calling for end to violence between the Turkish state and the PKK when he was shot dead. His killer has not been identified.

At the press conference during which he was fatally shot, Elci called attention to the damage done to historic buildings during recent violence in the city, telling reporters, “We don’t want guns, clashes and operations in this historical area, which has been a cradle to many civilizations.”




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