Turkish envoy Osman Köse, Osman Muhammed Ali and Beşdar Ramazan Salih were murdered during an incident in Iraqi Kurdistan on 17 July 2019. Six people were arrested and placed on trial.
Muhammed Beşikçi and Mazlum Dağ were found guilty of the murder of the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (Millî İstihbarat Teşkilatı – MİT) executive Osman Köse in 2019. Whilst Dağ and Beşikçi were sentenced to death, one of the six was sentenced to three years in prison and the remaining three received two year sentences.
According to the laws of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the execution can take place only if it is approved by Nechirvan Barzani, the President of the region. The families of Muhammed Beşikçi and Mazlum Dağ wrote an open letter to the Kurdistan Regional President Mr. Nechirvan Barzani appealing to him to halt the execution of the two Kurds.
Letter to the President
Necmettin Er wrote an open letter to the President on behalf of the families. It stated that the trial of Beşikçi and Dağ had been undertaken very quickly and the decision had been made very quickly. They demanded a repeal of the death penalty for Beşikçi and Dağ, also noting that “these young people said that they were involved in this event as a method of defending the rights of the Kurdish people”.
Their letter states: “On 17 July 2019, a fatal incident took place in Erbil, the capital of the Iraqi Kurdistan region. Shortly after the incident, some Kurdish youth, including my nephew Abdurrahman Er, were arrested. My nephew Abdurrahman and his friend Mazlum Dağ were sentenced to death by the Erbil 2nd Criminal Court after a short trial on 11 February 2020. The same file went quickly to the court of appeal, and the death sentence was upheld by the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government Appeals Court on 22 September 2020. Your consent is required for the death penalty to be executed.
“The death penalty has been largely removed from the law in modern criminal codes and democratic countries. We are patriotic families who paid a great price, including life, in Kurdistan cause. At a time when massive campaigns against the death penalty are being carried out all over the world, we find it difficult to understand the sentence handed out to two Kurdish youth in Kurdistan and we regret it.
“These young people rebelled against what the Turkish state has done against us and our people. When it comes to the incident for which our children have been sentenced, their target was the Turkish state, their target was the MİT official who carried out military operations.
“Considering the brutal attacks carried out by the Turkish state against our people, in our opinion, this incident, in which two Kurdish young people got involved, is not an event that calls for the death penalty. These young people said that they were involved in this event as a method of defending the rights of the Kurdish people. Undoubtedly, we did not find it right that they were involved in an event that ended in death. We know that there are other ways to seek rights, and we make such recommendations. But the punishment for this cannot be death, it should not be. Especially, the idea of the death penalty being carried out by the Kurdistan Region Court deeply affects us.
“Finally, it is up to you, Mr. President, whether this death penalty is upheld or not. We hereby appeal to you and request you to reject the act of execution. As the Kurdistan Regional President, it is up to you to prevent the execution of two Kurdish youths by other Kurds for an incident carried out to defend Kurdish national feelings. If this decision is implemented, the belief of the people of Kurdistan injustice will be broken and their national feelings will be hurt. We believe that by not approving this decision and stopping the execution, you will avoid situations that would harm our brotherhood.
“Dozens of Non-Governmental Organizations and prominent figures who support this request and have already contacted us to convey their solidarity. These civil society organisations and international institutions expect the death penalty to be removed from all legal codes. With these expectations and emotions, we ask you to reject the death sentence and show the world that the Kurdish people and their institutions are against the death penalty”.