A human rights award in memory of a prominent woman activist murdered 42 years ago in Turkey was given to Emine Şenyaşar, whose husband and two sons were killed in 2018 by the relatives of an AKP MP, and who has been waging a persistent struggle for justice for four years.
The award ceremony in Istanbul on Monday was attended by senior officials of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Istanbul branch, and representatives of the Human Rights Association of Turkey, Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Labour Party (EMEP), and various other organisations.
Sevinç Özgüner, a mother of two, dentist, and the first woman in Turkey to become a member of the Turkish Medical Association’s Central Council, was killed by members of the Grey Wolves, the unofficial youth wing of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), who broke into her house during the night on 23 May 1980. Her husband was gravely wounded in the attack. Her two young daughters were spared as they were staying elsewhere as a precaution in the face of threats received before the murderous attack.
Şebnem Korur Fincancı, chair of the Turkish Medical Association, made an address in the award ceremony. She began:
“In 1980 we were all, me and my friends present in this room now, young candidates to be doctors, and dear Sevinç Özgüner was, if I’m not wrong, the first woman in the central council of our professional association. She was unfortunately murdered by fascist gangs.”
After her address Fincancı handed the Sevinç Özgüner Human Rights Peace and Democracy award to Emine Şenyaşar.
In her speech, Emine Şenyaşar said that she was detained many times because she voiced her protest against obstruction of justice, and that she would continue to call for justice.
Ferit Şenyaşar, her son, noted that public pressure finally led to the recent arrests of four suspects four years after the incident, and stressed that they were going to continue to fight for justice.
In an incident at the Şenyaşar family’s shop in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority district of Suruç (Pirsûs) on 14 June, 2018, and then in a subsequent attack in the Suruç Community Hospital, three members of the Şenyaşar family were murdered and two were injured by a group consisting of the relatives of an MP for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
In the incident, the step brother of the MP was also killed by a bullet that was fired from an unidentified gun.