Ottawa – The Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC) is calling upon the Turkish government to immediately commence a fair and transparent investigation of the murder of prominent Kurdish human rights lawyer Tahir Elci. Despite the fact that almost two weeks have passed since Mr. Elci was shot and killed during a gun battle between Turkish police and unidentified gunmen, the Turkish authorities have not taken any steps to investigate this murder. The ANCC joins with calls from Kurdish politicians and international human rights organizations to ask that Turkey immediately investigate the killing and to stop covering up the facts of what occurred.
Mr. Elci was a defender of the rights of Kurds living in Turkey and was under constant threat of criminal prosecution by the Turkish government for defending Kurds and others accused of being terrorists. Mr. Elci was on his way home from a news conference calling for the end to the resumed violence between Kurds and the Turkish government when he was killed.
For Armenians, the assassination of Mr. Elci reminds us of the murder of prominent Turkish-Armenian intellectual Hrant Dink who was gunned down in front of his office in January 2007. Mr. Dink’s murder was never properly investigated and members of Turkish law enforcement treated Mr. Dink’s murderer as a hero. To this day the involvement of ultranationalist elements of Turkey’s military and civil service in Mr. Dink’s murder is not fully known.
Dr. Girair Basmadjian, President of ANCC stated: “Tahir Elci’s murder cannot be allowed to become the subject of a cover up like Hrant Dink’s assassination. Anything less than a full investigation and prosecution of the responsible parties is a travesty of justice and calls into question Turkey’s respect for the rule of law.”
Dr. Basmadjian added: “Despite eight years having passed since Dink was assassinated, we still don’t know the full responsibility of the Turkish deep state for this crime. The international community cannot allow for Tahir Elci’s murder to remain unsolved for that long.”
The ANCC is the largest and the most influential Canadian-Armenian grassroots human rights organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout Canada and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCC actively advances the concerns of the Canadian-Armenian community on a broad range of issues.