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Hafız Akdemir… He was massacred in Diyarbakır on June 8, 1997 at the age of 27 and in the prime of his profession.
He was a reporter for Özgür Gündem Newspaper, which covered the eviction of villages, tortures and dark incidents of the 1990s in the headlines.
He was subjected to an armed attack on his way from home to work at a time when he was preparing exclusive serials on Hezbollah, which was used as a hired gun by the deep state in the region,
Hafız was the youngest sibling of my mother. He was a reporter for the same newspaper where I was an office boy. As we used to go to work together every morning, I was suddenly the only eye witness to the murder.
Hafız Akdemir, his mother Şefakat Akdemir, siblings Fahriye Bulut, Edibe Maltaş and nephews/ nieces (March 1992)
‘Let’s not be late for work’
I never forget it.
The night before he was killed, he read till late at night. He said to me, “Tomorrow is Monday; set your watch, let’s not be late.”
We were next-door neighbors. We talked to each other on the phone at 8.15 in the morning, I was in front of the building at 8.25.
We were going towards the bureau. A rickshaw came up when we arrived in the street where the Palu Bakery was located.
He headed towards the left and I to the right. The vehicle passed and the moment when I turned towards him, an explosion occurred.
Time stopped for me at that moment. Before the delicate body of my uncle fell to the ground, I threw my body there so that he would not fall. Then, I started running after the murderer who was running like hell…
He apparently reserved a bullet for me, too. He ran swiftly. It fell to me to carry the body of Hafız soaked in blood.
Hafız was first taken to the Public Hospital, then to the hospital of Dicle University. The single bullet blew away his brain. He could stand it for two hours, but it did not work.
Deceased body taken away
While I was taken to the police station in a police vehicle for my witness statement, I heard the words, “Wasn’t there another newspaper to work for,” which was like the summary of 29 years that have passed since then.
Hafız Akdemir was one of the journalists doing objective journalism, which is equal to wearing the shirt of nessus.
First, he was killed; then, his deceased body was taken away from the mortuary by the police, thinking that “incidents would erupt.” He was laid to rest in the Mardin Kapı Cemetery without his family’s consent.
The visit of his relatives after Hafız Akdemir’s deceased body was buried in the Mardinkapı Cemetery without his family’s consent (June 9, 1992)
In fact, he had a will. He told my grandmother, “We were apart for so long when I was in prison. We will die in yearning for one another. Whoever dies first, the graves will stand side by side.”
Following an insistence for three days, he was taken away from where he had been buried and laid to rest in Yolçatı Village of Lice.
But what has the state, which is obligated to protect individuals’ right to life, done since then?
On January 17, 2020, a CD was seized in a villa used as a “safe house” by Hezbollah in Beykoz district in İstanbul.
In that CD, it was indicated that Hezbollah member C.Y. was the perpetrator of six killings in total, including those of Democracy Party (DEP) MP Mehmet Sincar and Hafız Akdemir, and two incidents of injury.
Following this development, the person named C.Y. was caught by the Interpol in Vienna, the capital city of Austria, in 2008.
C.Y. was extradited to Turkey. In the trial held by the Diyarbakır 6th High Criminal Court, C.Y. was held accountable for six murders and two shootings. On May 30, 2013, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
The attorney of the defendant argued that the Articles 3, 5 and 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) concerning torture, long period of arrest and right to a fair trial were violated during the trial and demanded that his client be put on trial again.
Examining the petition in March 2019, the Diyarbakır 6th High Criminal Court concluded that the related articles of the ECHR had been violated and ruled for a retrial. Halting the trial in the same ruling, the court released the defendant with an international travel ban.
Murderer is among us
Yes, this was how the life sentence given for six murders and two injuries ended. The murderer is now among us.
In the official records of the Security Directorate, it was indicated that I had been the only eye witness to the incident, I had run after the assailant and I had clearly seen his face. In spite of this, the court which heard the trial did not ask for my statement even at one hearing.
In fact, there are universal norms in the legal literature. When a murder is committed, police officers meticulously collect the evidence in the crime scene, then inquire whether there are any witnesses. But these norms were, unfortunately, not observed in the Hafız Akdemir murder case.
Like thousands of families awaiting justice to be served for years, we are enraged, too. We also expect the truths to be brought to light to face the past in the real sense of the term.
In the past, there were former special operations officer Ayhan Çarkın and retired non-commissioned officer Hüseyin Oğun; today, the statements of Sedat Peker are once again taking us to the network of dirty relations of the dark period.
It must be in the archives. For instance, one of the reasons indicated for the massacre of Bahçet Canutürk was being the financier of Özgür Gündem. Similarly, we know that following the National Security Council (NSC) decision to “eliminate” Özgür Gündem Newspaper, it was blown up with C4s.
Salih Şarman, the then Batman Governor, also made striking statements about the “missing guns.”
I wonder if the Takarov and makarov brand guns were distributed to the Hezbollah militants in the region while the Uzi brand guns brought from Israel were used to execute Kurdish businesspeople.
Lastly, as per the ruling of the Ankara Administrative Court, Mehmet Ağar, Korkut Eken and his team will be put on trial again in the upcoming days over the execution of Kurdish businesspeople.
Will the issue of missing guns also extend to Hezbollah and the murders committed by its hired guns?
We will wait and see… (VP/APK/SD)