Musa Anter, a prominent Kurdish intellectual known affectionately by the name “Apê Musa”, (Uncle Musa) was assassinated on 20 September 1992 in Turkey’s southeastern city of Diyarbakır (Amed), where he came to participate in an arts event. When Anter was driven to a quiet spot in a white Renault he was raked with bullets, there was a man accompanying him, named Orhan Miroğlu, who was later on announced as a Turkish Intelligence Organisation (MIT) officer by the head of the MİT counter-terror unit, Mehmet Eymür.
Testifying at a hearing of Musa Anter trial in Ankara on 4 March 2016, Eymür said Orhan Miroğlu was working for MİT with the code-name “Tayfun”. The name Tayfun also appeared in the testimony of Mahmut Yıldırım, a notorious assassin employed by the state, code-named Yeşil (Green), who was working at the time for the Gendarmerie Intelligence and Anti-Terrorism Unit (JITEM), a special force that acted as part of or related to the Turkish gendarmerie forces.
“There were already speculations about Orhan Miroğlu as he has not spoken very much for many years after my father was killed. He only began to testify later on. Eventually, there were some suspicions, but we had always trusted his sincerity as he was also a victim of the attack, he was wounded. But when this name ‘Tayfun’ came up, our suspicions have increased a hundred percent,” Dicle Anter, son of Musa Anter, said in an interview after the hearing where Eymür testified, according to Yeni Özgür Politika.
29 years after the murder of Musa Anter, there have been many scenarios regarding how and by whom the assassination was planned as many new leads, either fake or real, have been brought to the court during the long years of the trial. All these also increase the public’s suspicions about the Turkish state authorities on whether they are still attempting to cover up the murder of the Kurdish intellectual.
As the Turkish authorities still reject the existence of the organisation JITEM, the testimonies of another journalist who was kidnapped by JITEM, show that JITEM perpetrated a number of crimes, including the forced disappearance of journalists and Kurdish activists at the time.
“I was kidnapped by JITEM as I arrived at the crime scene of the murder of Musa Anter. With sketches in the police station and testimonies, we learned that one of those who kidnapped us was Mahmut Yıldırım, code-named Yeşil,” Aslan said, speaking at a hearing.
In 2004, Abdülkadir Aygan, a former Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant who surrendered in 1985 and then began to work as part of JITEM, shared controversial testimonies which created an outrage in the public. Aygan confessed in his book titled “A Confessing JITEM-Member Talked” that he was “acting as part of the JITEM squad, that also committed the murder of Musa Anter” and that “Mahmut Yıldırım code-named Yeşil planned the murder of Musa Anter”.
Aygan also said he was in the region at the time of the murder together with Cemil Işık, code-named Hogir, and the trigger was pulled by a man they call “Hamit from Şırnak”. Despite these shocking confessions, the Turkish judiciary has still not acted upon Aygan’s testimony.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in 2005 sentenced Turkey to a fine of 28,500 euros, finding JITEM guilty of the Anter assassination.
In 2009, a specially authorised prosecutor in Diyabakır accepted the confessions of Aygan as “denunciation” and opened a new investigation and issued an arrest warrant for the confessor Cemil Işık, Ali Ozansoy, Abdulkadir Aygan, Hamit Yıldırım and Mahmut Yıldırım, code-named Yeşil.
Yet it has still not been possible for the investigation of Anter’s murder to be deepened.
Hamit Yıldırım, who was identified as the gunman that killed Musa Anter was detained on 29 June 2012. This arrest saved the trial of Musa Anter’s murder from being dropped to the statute of limitations.
Since 2014 when a Diyarbakır court accepted a request that the Musa Anter’s murder case be joined together with the main JITEM trial, Musa Anter’s murder case was then included into the main JITEM trial.
Hamit Yıldırım was then released in 2017, having spent only 5 years in prison.
The trial which has been still ongoing now also faces the risk of being dropped due to statute of limitations in September 2022. Despite such little time now left for justice for Musa Anter, JITEM members and the perpetrators of his and many other peoples’ murders have still not been brought to justice.
“It was deciphered that Kurdish business people and Kurdish intellectuals were assassinated by special death squads in an organised manner. It was revealed that such murders were planned by a triangle of MIT, Gendarmerie and the police,” Selim Okçuoğlu, lawyer of Anter family said in an interview with Mesopotamia News Agency (MA).
Okçuoğlu stated that Abdülkadir Aygan is not a witness, but a defendant in their case file, who currently lives in Sweden. “But hearing his testimony about Hamit Yıldırım and his own defence from Sweden has been very challenging for us for years. The court demanded to hear Aygan few years ago. We applied to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Justice regarding this matter, but the ministry has never given us positive feedback,” he said.
Since Aygan’s statements have not been taken by the court, the court is stuck at the time being, Okçuoğlu noted and added:
“We have a limited time. We have only one year left, but under such circumstances where justice is being so delayed, it seems improbable for our trial to end in one year.”