“What killed Tahir Elci was not the state, but statelessness…” These were the powerful words from Selahattin Demirtas, leader of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish HDP party following the death of the Kurdish lawyer and human rights activist.
He joined thousands gathering in Diyarbakir to mourn Elci’s death. The funeral came a day after he was gunned down during a shootout between attackers and police in the troubled region; four months after a ceasefire between Kurdish rebels and Turkish security forces broke down.
Elci’s coffin was carried through the city’s streets a day after he was gunned down during a shootout between attackers and police in the troubled region.
Many of his colleagues travelled to the funeral from Bar Associations nationwide. Erdal Aydemir, former head of Bingol Bar Association, vowed to continue his work:
“Let it be known that we will follow in his legacy of laws and rights. His legal struggle and his cause will not cease. I say this as a human rights defender, his co-worker and his friend. We will follow in his footsteps,” he said.
Funerals were also held for two policemen who died in the same attack.
Initial post-mortem results suggest Elci was killed by a single shot to the back of the neck.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said a gun found next to the body was the same one used in an attack on police officers, which incited the shootout in which Elci was killed. He has vowed to catch the perpetrator.