Monday, August 21, 2006

An unsolved murder?

Today I had a visit from Serhat Tepe, younger brother of the late Ferhat Tepe, who was the Bitlis correspondent of the Kurdish newspaper Özgur Gündem. He was kidnapped in Bitlis by four men, one of whom had a walkie-talkie, at 19.00 on July 28, 1993 and found dead a few days later at the neighbouring town of Elazig. When I visited his father Isak Tepe on October 14, 1993, he told me:

'Since Ferhat's body was found, the police continually put the family and people who offer us condolences under surveillance. Anonymous callers threaten us on the telephone. I gave a description of the kidnappers, but we all know it was the police themselves who murdered him. An hour before he was kidnapped the police came to my office and asked one of my colleagues for Ferhat. Later, the police told my colleague, Adnan Karsoglu, that if he said anything about them coming and asking about Ferhat, he would be killed himself. Adnan knew one of them by sight and would recognise him if he saw him'.

'There has been no official investigation of my son's death. When his body was found, they sent me to Elazig, totally the wrong direction. The head of security in Bitlis told me to collect the body by myself but, suspecting a trap, I took some friends with me. The police said his body had been found in water, suggesting that he had been drowned, but I saw the marks of torture on his body, including blood all over his sexual organs'.

This and other murders of journalists and political activists at the time were attributed to a shadowy organisation named Hizbollah, but there was plenty of circumstantial evidence pointing to state agents as the killers.

As a result of four visits I made to investigate the situation in the Kurdish region in the nineties, I was banned from entering the country from June 1996 onwards, and have still had no indication from the Turkish authorities that I am now free to go there without restrictions.

No comments: