The family of Ayten Öztürk, who was abducted and tortured to death by a Turkish deep state agent in 1992, are pressing charges against Bursaspor supporters who put up a poster with his face on it during a football match with Amedspor on Sunday.
Ayten’s father Hıdır Öztürk told reporters that the family “wept for hours” when they saw the poster being displayed, and said that the killer was known, but that justice had not yet been served.
Posters displayed at the match depicted Mahmut Yıldırım, accused of Öztürk’s murder, and a white Renault Toros, a car that was used extensively by units within Turkey’s state structures that carried out thousands of illegitimate operations and extrajudicial killings during the height of the conflict with the Kurds in the 1990s.
The Öztürk family has been fighting for justice for 31 years, but have yet to see Yıldırım face trial. The young woman’s lifeless body was discovered in the eastern Elazığ province two weeks after her abduction in nearby Tunceli. Yıldırım has been accused of many other murders in the region at the time.
The family’s lawyer Cihan Söylemez said “certain forces within the state” had been protecting Yıldırım, codename Yeşil, and that the prosecutors had not taken an active stance on the case. The incident was not a simple act of hooliganism, but one that “puts dynamite in the fraternity of the peoples of Turkey”, the lawyer said.
Söylemez called on the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation on both cases.
The Öztürk murder is just one example of the human rights abuses that took place in Turkey during the 1990s, particularly in the Kurdish-majority southeastern provinces. JİTEM, the Gendarmerie Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism Command, has been accused of committing numerous extrajudicial killings and disappearances during this time. Despite calls for accountability and justice, many of the perpetrators remain unidentified and unpunished.