Çağlayan Courthouse: State Breaks Negotiations, Commits Massacre Instead


One of the militants (Şafak Yayla) can be seen holding Prosecutor Kiraz hostage at his office. A poster of Berkin Elvan can also be seen to the right reading, “We want Berkin’s Murderers”. The photo was leaked via Twitter during the act. Hundreds of websites where this photo can be found are being blocked as part of an extensive damage control campaign carried out by the Turkish State in wake of the massacre at Çağlayan Courthouse.

The State took advantage of the on-going hostage negotiations (which were said to be nearing a conclusion) with DHKC Militants to prepare and launch an assault that ended with the massacre of both the hostage and the militants in Çağlayan Courhouse on the 31st of March 2015.

The youth murdered by the police during the Gezi Uprising; Ali İsmail Korkmaz, Abdullah Cömert, Ahmet Atakan, Ethem Sarısülük, Mehmet Ayvalıtaş, Medeni Yıldırım, Hasan Ferit Gedik and Berkin Elvan… Their families have commenced lawsuits demanding the murderous policemen be tried, among which only two have come to a conclusion whereas others still continue…

Numerous juridical scandals were witnessed during these processes; from the abrupt transfer of cases and state protection for the murderous policemen, to the deletion of camera records and physical violence being exerted against the family members as well as the court audience. The state has attacked those protesting against such scandals with riot police who are renowned with their liberal use of tear gas and batons, along with armoured riot control vehicles (TOMA).

Berkin Elvan, 15 years old, had remained comatose for 269 days after a tear gas canister hit him on the head – he lost his life on March 11, 2014 weighing only 16 kg. After his death, tens of thousands joined his funeral march condemning police terror and promising to pursue the lawsuit. Nevertheless, repression continued and even the demonstrations that were held in solidarity with the family which had to run from pillar to post between the courtroom and the hallways of courthouse were assaulted by the police. Two people have died during these demonstrations, and tens of people were taken under custody.

In order to arouse public attention to the case and to publicly clarify those who were responsible, anchor desks were opened in Istanbul and a book titled 15’inde Bir Fidan, Umudun Çocuğu Berkin Elvan (A Sapling at its 15, Berkin Elvan the Child of Hope) was distributed during the whole process of the lawsuit which closely protected the murderers.

On the morning of March 31, 2015 two young DHKC militants, Şafak Yayla and Bahtiyar Doğruyol took the public prosecutor tasked with Berkin Elvan’s case hostage at his office at Çağlayan Courthouse. During the hostage negotiations that lasted for nearly 4 hours, the young militants persistently demanded that Berkin’s murderers be publicly announced by the state. Nevertheless, the state decided on perpetrating a massacre instead, and 3 people – including the prosecutor, Selim Kiraz – were killed as a result of the operation carried out by the special forces branch of the police. In response to public reactions that followed, President Erdoğan who had previously declared that “I myself have given the orders to the police in Gezi”, has deemed the operation a success and congratulated “his” police.

A few minutes before the police assault, DHKC militants had broadcasted a message claiming, “We are close to reaching an agreement, Berkin’s murderers will be exposed”.  Afterwards, according to the eyewitnesses, first the courthouse was evacuated by the police; then successive gunshots were heard when the task force moved in. Simultaneously, another assault was carried out against those waiting in front of the courthouse where TOMA and tear gas wielding riot police were deployed.

Almost immediately a broadcast ban was imposed regarding this operation by the state authorities, who also publicly declared that the operation – which ended with a death toll of three – was a “big success”. While press was not allowed at Kiraz’s funeral, Prime Minister Davutoğlu declared Çağlayan Courthouse was to be renamed as “Mehmet Selim Kiraz Courthouse”.

In the meanwhile, a detention campaign covering 4 major cities was initiated by the police. 66 people were detained in raids carried out in Istanbul, Antalya, İzmir and Eskişehir on charge of being alleged DHKC members. The police also attacked a group of demonstrators protesting the execution of Şafak Yayla and Bahtiyar Doğruyol and detained 5 more people.

A day after, Contemporary Lawyers Association (ÇHD) has publicly criticized the slaughter of prosecutor Kiraz and the two DHKC members in the operation held by the special forces.

While the autopsy procedures of Şafak Yayla and Bahtiyar Doğruyol were still in progress Aysel Yayla, the mother of Şafak Yayla, said: “They hid the murderers and they have killed my son!”

Today, almost 2 months away from parliamentary elections, an extensive media blackout campaign is being carried out by the Turkish State in order to control the outcome of this operation; Youtube, Facebook and Twitter were blocked and now, as outrageous as it may sound, there are talks of blocking Google.  Including those of some media outlets, hundreds of websites where pictures of the prosecutor being held at gunpoint could be found have already been taken down as well.

Source: isyandan.org

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