Commemoration of the assassination of the President of the Diyarbakir Bar Association Tahir Elçi
Thursday, November 28th, 2019.
Turkish lawyer and President of Diyarbakir Bar Association of Kurdish origin, Tahir Elçi was particularly well known as a defender of human rights and the Kurdish cause. In particular, he had won several cases brought by victims of human rights violations against the Turkish State before the European Court of Human Rights.
On November 28th 2015, while giving a press conference to draw media attention to the damage inflicted on the monuments during the fighting, Tahir Elçi was murdered with a bullet in the head. It had settled next to the ancient 500-year-old minaret, symbol of the capital city of South-East Turkey, populated mostly by Kurds. It is here that lawyers now meet every year to pay tribute to their president of the bar. By 2015, several tens of thousands of people had gathered for his funeral.
Born in Cizre in 1966, this criminal lawyer has repeatedly called on the Turkish state and the Kurdish rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to silence their weapons. He was considered as “a moderate leading figure in the Kurdish cause”.
“It is easier to shoot than to make peace,” he told Le Monde newspaper in an interview on October 18th 2015 in Diyarbakir. The next day, he was arrested and charged for publicly stating a few days earlier that “the PKK was not a terrorist organization”. Under investigation, he was facing up to seven years in prison.
The International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger, as it does every year, wishes to pay tribute to the memory of the President of the Bar Tahir Elçi, a committed lawyer and human rights defender.
The Observatory expresses its support for the lawyers in Turkey who are victims of repression and who continue to fight for the respect of human rights, sometimes at the risk of their lives.