Prominent Kurdish writer and journalist Musa Anter, affectionately known as “Apê Musa” (Uncle Musa), who was assassinated 31 years ago, was commemorated at his grave and on the street where he was murdered on the anniversary of his death with the participation of his son Dicle Anter, journalists and lawmakers from the pro-Kurdish Green Left Party.
“By killing Apê Musa, they wanted to bury the truth. But today it is clear that they cannot cover up the facts. They cannot kill the truth,” said Serdar Altan, co-chair of the Dicle Fırat Journalists’ Association (DFG), at the commemoration held at his grave in Mardin (Mêrdîn).
Altan also stressed that Anter’s murder marked the beginning of a new era for the Kurdish media, where the reality of the Kurds is brought to the world through the hard work of Kurdish journalists.
Anter was abducted on 20 September 1992 from the hotel where he was staying in the city of Diyarbakır (Amed) in the south-east of Turkey. He was murdered in a quiet area where he was taken in a white Renault Taurus, a car that was widely used by units within Turkey’s state structures that were believed to be the perpetrators of the extrajudicial killings at the height of the Kurdish conflict in the 1990s.
The revelation about the perpetrators came to light when Abdülkadir Aygan, a former hitman for the Turkish Gendarmerie Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism Department (JİTEM), revealed that Anter was killed by JİTEM, the secret organisation of the deep state whose existence the state has long denied.
Furthermore, a car accident in 1996 led to the Susurluk scandal, which exposed the links between the state, the police and the mafia in Turkey and revealed that Anter’s murder had been meticulously planned and carried out by Mahmut Yıldırım, who was code-named “Yeşil” (Green).
Orhan Miroğlu, an executive member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and a former AKP parliamentarian, was with Anter when he was killed and survived the attack with injuries.
Miroğlu has been a witness in the case for years, providing information about the murder. However, suspicions that the AKP politician was involved in the murder were raised when former MİT anti-terrorism chief Mehmet Eymür, who testified at the trial, said that Yeşil had referred to Miroğlu as “We know him as Tayfun”.
Dicle Anter, who believed that Miroğlu had collaborated with those who pulled the trigger, had said before the final hearing of the case in September 2022, “I think Miroğlu is a defendant rather than a witness”.
The murder case
There was no effective investigation into the murder of Musa Anter until 2000, when Anter’s family went to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The ECHR ruled that Turkey had violated Anter’s right to life and failed to carry out an adequate investigation.
In 2009, seventeen years after the murder, an investigation was launched and a former JITEM hitman, Abdülkadir Aygan, confessed that senior members of JITEM had planned Musa Anter’s murder.
In 2013, 21 years after the murder, JITEM members were charged with first-degree murder and inciting the people to armed rebellion.
The trial for the murder of Musa Anter was closed due to the statute of limitations on 20 September 2022, the 30th anniversary of one of the darkest political crimes in recent Turkish history.
The story of JİTEM, ‘White Taurus’ and ‘Green’ in 1990s Turkey.
White Taurus’ came to symbolise the unsolved murders committed in the Kurdish-majority provinces of southeastern and eastern Turkey in the 1990s. During those years, when the Kurdish conflict was at its height, people who were not real policemen but claimed to be would drive away in White Taurus vehicles, never to be heard from again. Or targets were shot and killed from the windows of these vehicles. These murders, and others like them, were added to the list of ‘unsolved’ murders. Almost 17,000 people lost their lives in unsolved murders in Turkey in the 90s.
JİTEM was later charged with numerous extrajudicial and unsolved murders, enforced disappearances and other crimes, but most of these cases resulted in dismissals or minimal sentences. Although JİTEM’s existence had long been denied by state institutions, the opening of an investigation into JİTEM by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office was the state’s official acknowledgement of the organisation’s existence. In May 2023, in the trial of the investigation into the 19 murders carried out by JİTEM elements, the defendants, including former police chief and interior minister Mehmet Ağar and former intelligence officer Korkut Eken, were acquitted.
Mahmut Yıldırım, a JİTEM operative known by the codename ‘Yeşil’ (Green), took part in the 1974 Cyprus peace operation. He later joined the Turkish National Intelligence Organisation (MIT). Because he dressed like a PKK fighter during operations, he wore a green scarf to be recognised by the security forces. This led to him being codenamed Yeşil.
Yıldırım, who is believed to be the mastermind behind a number of unsolved murders, was later left Turkey to live in Damascus.