In the year since the killing of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) volunteer Deniz Poyraz in Turkey’s western Izmir province, the Constitutional Court proceedings to shut down the second-largest opposition bloc in the country have moved forward and Poyraz’s murder suspect has used the allegations of ties to terrorism against the HDP as part of his defence, writes prominent human rights lawyer Eren Keskin for Yeni Yaşam newspaper.
It will soon be a year since Deniz Poyraz was killed. There was a sizeable crowd at the recent hearing of her murder case. Women in particular have assumed the case as their own, which is highly significant.
I have been a lawyer for more than 30 years now. I have never seen another case where a killer has such a sense of power and displays such an aggressive attitude. The killer, Onur Gencer, trusts in the power behind him to such an extent that he threatened everyone at the hearing, even including the judges.
Gencer told the court that the grounds for the case to shut down the HDP were same as the reasons for his petition for a reduced sentence due to provocation.
Thus a killer has been encouraged by the judicial harassment directed at the Kurdish political movement, those vicious attacks, that we can go so far as to call political genocide.
The language of this state is so startling, so full of violence and extreme marginalisation, that unfortunately it confers power on all those who are inclined to violence, and especially men who use it already.
This is the reason that we say that violence against women is political, because we observe that violence against women increases at times when the language of the state becomes harsh. Last week we observed something we had never seen in politics in Turkey before. Someone right at the top of the state apparatus, the Interior Minister, and the leader of another fascist political party, challenged one another to a duel.
While the leader of the racist and fascist Zafer Party challenged the other, he also said that he would come without a weapon. The language of violence has become so predominant in politics, has become so normalised, that it has the unfortunate effect of spreading violence widely within society.
We recently experienced something else. Another female politician, Ayşe Acar Başaran, was publicly threatened by a policeman, in front of the cameras in full view of everyone.
During discussions following a provocative action in which a group of people tried to lay a wreath outside the HDP’s head office, a police officer was able to threaten Başaran, saying, “I’m going to nail you to a wall.” Başaran is a member of parliament. That a police officer is able to publicly threaten a MP saying “I’m going to nail you to a wall” in this land…!
The verb “to nail [someone to something]” is extremely violent. That this extremely violent threat is directed by a state official to an MP, and especially a female, means that all women in opposition are threatened by that state voice, that person representing the state.
This is the power behind the killer Onur Gencer, the power he trusts so much, it is the original power behind the words “I will nail you to a wall”, spoken by that police officer.
While there are people in this land who get extended periods of custody because of a tweet, Onur Gencer, the perpetrator of a political murder was released from custody in less than a day. No investigation has been made into the power behind Onur Gencer; deliberately so because this power, this organised structure, is the very same as that which has been killing people in opposition since 1915, in the 1980s and 1990s.
Unfortunately there are those who claim to be the opposition in this land, who also distinguish between the victims. When the victims in question are Kurds, Armenians, LGBT+ or women in opposition, those calling themselves opposition do not raise their voices sufficiently. Sadly this links to the power of that deep structure behind Onur Gencer. In this land where those in opposition and those in power feed from the same source, the struggle of true opponents, and especially that of the women and LGBT+ people, is extremely difficult.
As we have always said; there is a strength in the land in which we live that does not surrender. This struggle continues and will continue out of respect for the people who do not surrender.
* An armed assailant attacked the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Izmir branch office on 18 June 2021, and murdered party member Deniz Poyraz, who was alone there cleaning and preparing the building in the early morning.
** The People’s Democratic Party is the main pro-Kurdish political party in Turkey and the third largest political party in recent elections in terms of the votes received.