A grieving Kurdish mother whose husband and two sons were murdered, allegedly by bodyguards of a Turkish MP of the ruling AKP party has been hauled before a court for “insulting” the said MP and the Turkish Interior Minister during her campaign for justice.
While there have been hundreds of extreme examples of injustices against the Kurds, the case of Kurdish mother, Emine Şenyaşar has attained a particular status among human rights groups as a breathtakingly cruel example of a blatant miscarriage of justice.
Emine Şenyaşar lost her husband and two of her sons in a vicious attack by people connected to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) MP Halil Yıldız on 14 June 2018. Her husband and one of her sons were then killed while in hospital receiving treatment for injuries they sustained in the initial attack.
In the four years since then, she and her son Ferit have been campaigning for justice for their family, including the release of the relevant CCTV videos from the hospital, and since March 2021 they have been holding a daily Justice Vigil outside Urfa Judicial Buildings.
One of Şenyaşar’s two remaining sons was sentenced to 37 years imprisonment for his part in the events in which he defended his family.
Emine Şenyaşar was supported by a number of lawyers as well as political parties and NGOs at her first hearing at Urfa Primary Penal Court where she was charged with “insulting” the MP and the Interior Minister.
During the questioning, Şenyaşar began to talk about the massacre of her family, but the court stopped her and told her to restrict herself to only answering questions about the “insults”. She then said she had insulted the people who killed her family, but that she could not remember the words, and when she was asked directly whether she had insulted Turkish interior minister, Süleyman Soylu and the MP whose entourage allegedly killed her family, Halil Yıldız. She said, “I have never met them, to insult them.”
The official court interpreter also mistranslated her from her mother tongue Kurdish, reported Politika Haber.
A lawyer for the family, Mehmet Ali Aslan, explained about the killings and the family’s quest for justice, saying that there were attempts to hinder this quest with inquiries: “Fifteen separate inquiries have been set up. The mother is charged with insulting Soylu [Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu] and Yıldız from the AKP. It is not clear who she was talking about.” He also said the recordings of her speaking had only been partially translated from Kurdish into Turkish, demanding a full translation, which the court refused.
After the recess, the presiding judge then ordered a court usher to record the hearing on his personal phone, saying that the court video recording equipment was faulty, to strong objections by Şenyaşar’s lawyers.
After the prosecution’s summing up, Şenyaşar was given the floor. She told the court to give her whatever penalty they wished, but to “release the hospital videos and punish the people who murdered my family”.
Another lawyer for the family, Hidayet Enmek also called for full disclosure of the video tapes, as well as a transcript of the interview of the MP Halil Yıldız in connection with the events at the hospital. The court refused these requests. Enmek also went on to say that the indictment against Şenyaşar was illegal, saying, “It has been drawn up with the sole intent of silencing the family’s quest for justice.”
Şenyaşar’s son wished to provide a witness statement to the court, but the bench refused, and the hearing was adjourned to February 2023.
Following the hearing, the family shared a photo of Şenyaşar in the dock saying, “It has become an offence to want to expose a crime. Mother in the dock.”