Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The State did not Protect him: Hasan Ferit Gedik's Untimely Death*

Last Sunday evening, news of an armed attack on a group of protesters started to appear across my twitter feed. One of the protesters was in intensive care due to multiple bullet wounds, his name was Hasan Ferit Gedik (hereafter: Ferit). Reports were confusing, with some saying he was alive and others he was dead; well, within hours it was clear that he would not make it. He was only 21 years old. What a loss. As for his friend, Gökhan Aktaş, he was in critical condition, now stable, and even if his life is out of danger he will have a long agonizing road to recovery.

Not like the six Gezi protesters who were killed facing police violence, Ferit was murdered while protesting the presence of drug gangs, who have taken over Maltepe’s sub-neighborhood of Gulsuyu, on the Asian side of Istanbul. Unknown assailants shot six bullets in his head, back and neck, ending the People’s Front (Halk Cephesi) demonstration in tragedy; however, despite the police knowing of the sensitivity of the protest, they did not protect them. In the past, other protesters have been attacked by members of the drug cartel in the very same neighborhood.  The police force’s inability to clampdown on the drug trafficking, prevent attacks-or indifference to such attacks-has led to the serious accusation that the police are in cahoots with the cartel.

If only those allegations had been leveled; following Ferit’s death, there were reports of plain clothes policemen entering the hospital room, and his shirt and undershirt being lifted. The next day, the public prosecutor announced that he did not order any evidence to be confiscated and that it had gone “missing”; of course, an essential piece of evidence.  While at the same time, less than 72 hours after his death, news broke that the weapons used in the attack-2 pistols and an assault rifle- had been located off the coast not too far from the scene and were retrieved by police divers. Therefore, even if there have been arrests made, Ferit’s family and friends have little reason to trust the authorities.

Throwing salt on the wounds, as of Wednesday night, Ferit’s funeral procession has been blocked by the Turkish authorities who refuse to heed to the family’s demand that his body before being buried be taken to the site of his killing as a memorial to his untimely death.  For the last 48 hours, his body has been resting in a coffin in his own neighborhood’s Cemevi (jem-evi), the Alevi sect’s house of prayer. This neighborhood, Küçük Armutlu, is no stranger to the Turkish police since it is a known leftist stronghold with a tradition of challenging state authority. As of last night the neighborhood is basically under siege with police and water cannons surrounding it.  

If this was not enough, the fact that he was of the Alevi sect comes at a time when the religious minority is locked in conflict with the state-despite wide representation from all walks of life, all of the protesters in Gezi who were killed were Alevi, and numerous clashes have recently taken place against state projects to gentrify and transform their lower middle-class neighborhoods. Most recently, an article in the online newspaper, Al-Monitor, addressed the issues of the Alevis and the recent events. While some had expected that PM Erdogan would address some of the Alevi demands in his unveiling of the much-awaited “Democratic Packgage” on Monday-just hours after Ferit’s passing away-this too proved to be a disappointment.

What is clear is that the Turkish government must open a transparent investigation into the murder of Hasan Ferit Gedik. While police violence remains for the most part without any serious investigation as was demonstrated in the Gezi Park protests, this case brings the accusations up a notch, raising questions if there are connections between the police and drug traffickers; if these accusations are not addressed at the top-level, it will serve as just another example of the growing mistrust many Turkish people feel towards their government.

UPDATE: Today, Thursday (03-10-2013) Ferit has been buried in the Gazi cemetery  Before burying him the state authorities heeded the demands of the family that his body be taken to the site of his killing, where a memorial ceremony/protest was held.

*For articles in Turkish that helped me "fill in the blanks" concerning the case I used the following 3 articles from Radikal. This is an edited version of the original (slight changes for clarity).


FOLLOW ME on TWITTER @istanbultelaviv for more on whats happening in Turkey and Israel/Palestine, the uprising in Syria, and the Middle East at large.

No comments:

Post a Comment