Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has asked Türkan Elçi, the wife of lawyer Tahir Elçi who was killed in 2015, to run in the 14 May elections as a candidate for the southeastern province of Diyarbakır (Amed).
Journalist İsmail Saymaz wrote on Twitter on Friday that Türkan Elçi, who is herself a lawyer and a human rights activist, is expected to respond positively to the CHP’s request on Saturday.
The CHP has had little success in previous elections in Kurdish-majority provinces in southeast Turkey, and Elçi’s candidacy could be a signal of a change in the main opposition party’s stance on the Kurdish question.
Her husband, who was head of the Diyarbakır Bar Association, was murdered on 28 November 2015 as he made a press statement on curfews being imposed on Kurdish cities.
He was killed five weeks after he had said on television that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was not a terrorist organisation, but an armed political movement with political demands and significant social support. These comments resulted in a court case against him, and he was temporarily detained on terrorism charges.
Elçi was trying to stop violence that ensued from Turkey’s large-scale military and police operations in Kurdish-majority provinces following the collapse of two years of peace negotiations between Ankara and the PKK.
As Elçi called for an end to the violence at a press conference, a shootout started between police and Kurdish militants, during which he was shot in the back of the head.
His high-profile murder remains unsolved. International observers have noted the lack of an independent investigation and the refusal by the authorities to investigate police officers as suspects.
“His stance supporting the wronged bothered some people. He was killed because of his influence over the public and his role as a bridge between the Kurds and the Turks. He was killed in a chaotic environment created to conceal the perpetrators. The feelings of those who wanted co-existence were murdered with him,” Türkan Elçi said about her husband’s murder one year later.
Türkan Elçi now chairs the Tahir Elçi Human Rights Foundation, founded in 2019.
“We tried despite everything to render courageous a heart instilled with pain. Rather than allowing the pain inside us to turn to feelings of revenge and hatred, on the contrary; as a family we made it our aim to set up a foundation to turn it into a channel for unifying and embracing all sectors of society,” she said on the opening of the foundation.