6th anniversary of October 10 Massacre: Our cause is creating an environment we can live under democratic conditions

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  • 12:46 9 October 2021
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ANKARA - Speaking about the 10 October Massacre trial, in which the responsibility of the state was covered up and crimes against humanity were ignored, the lawyers said, "This is the case for all citizens to breathe and live under free and democratic conditions."
It has been 6 years since the attack carried out by ISIS on the Labor, Peace and Democracy Rally on October 10, 2015. In the 6 years that have passed since the massacre, in which 104 people lost their lives and over 500 people we injured, only some of the ISIS suspects were put on trial, the responsibility of public officials and the state was covered up, and crimes against humanity were ignored. The trial continues with a seperated case against the fugitive defendants.
After the massacre, lawyers and families demanded that all those responsible, including negligent public employees, be prosecuted. Families and lawyers said that although Ankara Train Station, where the massacre took place, was close to hospitals, ambulances arrived late and there were few security measures at the entrance to the demonstration area. A criminal complaint was filed against the officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior, MİT officials, the General Directorate of Security, and the Ankara Police Department. However, the prosecution did not process the criminal complaints. Following the rejection of the criminal complaint filed by the families against the public officials who were negligent and responsible for the massacre, the General Directorate of Security filed a lawsuit against the lawyers of the victims of October 10.
However, after the massacre, remarkable statements came from state officials who were included in the denunciations that the prosecutor's office did not process. On the day of the massacre, the Minister of Justice, Minister of Health and Minister of Interior held a press conference. A press member asked the then Minister of Interior Selami Altınok, "Do you plan to resign?" Altınok answered the question as follows: "There is no security weakness." He said he was not considering resigning. The smile of the Minister of Justice Kenan İpek after the question attracted attention.
The Prime Minister of the time, Ahmet Davutoğlu, made a statement on October 12, 2015, “We have a list of possible suicide bombers. We know they can carry out a suicide attack but we can't arrest them before they carry out the action or have tengible proof that they will. Turkey is a democratic state of law, not a country where you can arrest people without any reason. The place the attack took place is not the designated place for a rally. That's why there were no security measures."
In the process of preparing the indictment, the facts about the responsibility of the state began to emerge. It turned out that the Suruç and Ankara Massacres took place on the orders of ISIS member İlhami Balı, code-named Ebubekir, and that İlhami Balı has been under police surveillance since 2002. Following the October 10 Ankara Massacre, it was revealed that the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office asked for permission to investigate some police chiefs for "abuse of office" after the explosion, but the Ankara Governor's Office decided not to grant permission to investigate. With the inspector's report on the massacre, it was learned that the Police first warned its own personnel about a possible suicide attack at the rally, but did not warn the participants of the rally and the organizing committee of the rally.
After the statements in which the responsibility of the state was denied, an indictment was prepared on June 27, 2016 regarding the massacre. In the indictment prepared against 36 people, 20 of whom were imprisoned, it was stated that the suicide bombers were Yunus Emre Alagöz, born in 1990, and a Syrian national whose open identity could not be determined. In the indictment, it was stated that the order for the attack was given by İlhami Balı, who was identified as the ISIS commander in charge of Turkey. In the indictment, it was stated that the details of the attack were planned by ISIS' Gaziantep Emir Yunus Durmaz. It was also emphasized that some materials were brought from Gaziantep. However, the documents on the negligence of the relevant public officials in the inspector's report and the police officers who used tear gas on the wounded after the massacre were not included in the indictment.
The trial, which started on November 7, 2016 at the Ankara 4th High Criminal Court, lasted for 2 years. As a result, Abdulmubtalip Demir, Talha Güneş, Metin Akaltın, Yakub Şahin, Hakan Şahin, Halil İbrahim Alçay, Resul Demir, Hacı Ali Durmaz and Hüseyin Tunç were charged 100 times for "deliberately killing 100 people"; For the crime of "violating the constitutional order", aggravated life imprisonment was requested, which adds up to a total of 101 times. Demir, Akaltın, Şahin and Tunç, who were accused of bringing the materials used in making of explosives to Ankara, were also sentenced to up to 24 years in prison on charges of "possessing and transporting dangerous substances without permission within the framework of terrorist activities". A prison sentence of 22 years and 6 months was requested for the accused Erman Ekici on the charge of "being the head of an ISIS armed terrorist organization cell". A prison sentence of 11,730 years in prison each for the crime of attempting to kill 391 people, 20 of whom were children was also requested for the defendants.
At the end of the trial, which lasted for 2 years, on 3 August 2018, 9 defendants were sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment once for "violating the constitutional order" and 100 times for "deliberate killing". Following the decision, the case was brought before the Supreme Court after the approval of the appeal. In the communiqué submitted to the Court of Cassation on April 6, the Office of the Chief Public Prosecutor of the Court of Cassation requested that the verdict of the court to be reversed, stating that the prison sentence given to Erman Ekici, was too excessive, and that the accused Yakup Yıldırım, who was sentenced to 7 years and 6 months in prison, should be acquitted. The communiqué did not include a single sentence regarding the collection of missing evidence and the discovery of the real culprits of the massacre, the numerous petitions filed by the lawyers for the extension of the prosecution, the hundreds of pages of appeals. The Supreme Court's decision on the case is still not ready.
The trial against İlhami Balı, Savaş Yıldız, Edremit Türe, Deniz Büyükçelebi, Yakup Selağzı, Kasım Dere, Nusret Yılmaz, Mustafa Delibaşlar, Walentina Slobodjanjuk, Muhammet Zana Alkan, Ömer Deniz Dündar, Cebrail Kaya, Ahmet Güneş, Kenan Kutval, Bayram Yıldız ve Hasan Hüseyin Uğur and İlhami Balı who are accused of 'crime against humanıty' still continues. In the file where the detained defendants were tried, the accused Erman Ekici was also sentenced to the crime of being an organization manager. However, since he was the administrator and the person who brought the order of the massacre to Yunus Durmaz, a criminal complaint was filed over his responsibility in the massacre, and an indictment was prepared by the Ankara Public Prosecutor's Office after Ekici was tried for crimes against humanity. With the acceptance of the indictment, it was the first time that a defendant was on trial for crimes against humanity in terms of Turkey's history. The trial against 16 fugitives and Ekici began on November 8, 2018.
While the case continues in terms of fugitive defendants, the court board was changed. The same board have been looking at the case from day one. And the prosecutor was changed once. The judge was appointed to the Supreme Court by the Judges and Prosecutors Council.The new delegation interrupted the hearing when the families started voicing their demands in court and left the court room. The changing delegation prevented Muhammet Kasım Kurt, who was also heard as a witness in the last hearing, from giving the names of the soldiers who were with him while he was talking to the fugitive suspect İlhami Balı on the phone.
While the criminal proceedings regarding the massacre continued, compensation cases were filed in the administrative courts. At the administrative courts, the lawyers drew attention to the responsibility of the state by stating that the necessary precautions were not taken before the massacre, the health services were insufficient after the attack took place, the deaths increased due to the police intervention who used tear gas on the wounded people, which caused more deaths. However, the unlawfulness in the criminal proceedings continued in the administrative courts as well. In the compensation cases brought against the Ministry of Interior, the administrative courts, without evaluating the demands and claims, evaluated the cases within the scope of the "social risk" principle, which is not the fault of the administration, but in accordance with the social state principle, and gave compensation decisions. The courts of appeal also upheld these decisions. However, the 10th Administrative Trial Chamber of the Council of State, gave decisions that "the state is not at fault".
Senem Doğanoğlu and İlke Işık, from the Lawyer Commission of the 10 October Ankara Massacre Case, evaluated the demand for justice, which is still not fulfilled in the 6th year of the massacre, covering up of the responsibility of the state and ignoring the crime against humanity.
Stating that in the petition they submitted to the prosecutor's office on October 12, 2015 after the massacre, Attorney Senem Doğanoğlu said that they demanded that the investigation be conducted on the basis of crimes against humanity, but reminded that the indictment was not written over this crime. Doğanoğlu said, "If we are not going to call this massacre a 'crime against humanity', what possibly can be  a crime against humanity? The legal and legitimate grounds for calling it a crime against humanity existed in this case. ISIS is an organization that commits crimes against the international community and also against all living and non-living things. One defendant said, "Of course, we did not go to Syria to give the people flowers." Currently, there is an indictment about Erman Ekici describing "deliberate killings with religious motivation" and he continues to be tried for crimes against humanity.
Underlining that the massacre was an attack on the demand for peace, Doğanoğlu said, “As the responsibility of the state has now been demonstrated with all its evidence, it was important to call it a crime against humanity in order to see that partnership as well. As a result, we believe that imposing a sentence for a crime against humanity will be a pioneer in terms of international judgment. Another importance of being tried for crimes against humanity is that there is no statute of limitations for these crimes. Even if the courts or the prosecutor's office do not want it, we are at a stage of clearing the facts, and this will continue. Evidence emerges even years later in such major crimes. That is why it is important that the statute of limitations not run.” Doğanoğlu stated that even if there is no statute of limitations regarding the case, information regarding the post-7 June-1 November 2015 elections would continue to come.
Drawing attention to the responsibility of the state in the massacre, Attorney İlke Işık said, “Let alone the responsibility of the state, it is an unfinished file on the responsibility of the ISIS members. We are still making demands, a new criminal complaint has been made against Ebu Zeynep, one of those responsible for the massacre. In other words, it is an unsolved case even for the ISIS members. The hardest part is the real perpetrators. Because the main ones responsible for this massacre cannot be only ISIS members."
Pointing out that the court is not trying to solve the case, Işık said: " “All our criminal complaints resulted in non-prosecution, every criminal complaint we brought to the court was rejected. In this file, we are talking about total responsibility, that even the prosecutors who prepared the indictment spoiled evidence and covered them up. Documents about Yakup Şahin were revealed 5 years after the massacre. 9 missing folders found after 5 years. It is a case that cannot be talked about independently of the Antep Police, the responsibility of the prosecutors, and the security forces that control the borders. But they pretend that it doesn't exist and they want to close the file like that. All kinds of documents, information and evidence we have obtained over the last 6 years point to these responsibilities.”
Emphasizing that justice will definitely be established, Işık underlined that they continue to accumulate evidence and fight back. Işık continued as follows: “We are not only holding those responsibile for the deaths of 103 people. We are working on the case as a large group of lawyers. We are struggling to account for what happened to each of us and to look at the future with hope again. Families, injured and labor democracy forces have been coming to every hearing for 6 years. We are in the hearings not only for their children, but so that no one else is ever hurt like that. That's our biggest motivation, we have to get justice for that day. We should never forget October 10. The trial continues. Our cause is creating an environment we can live under democratic conditions. We can achieve true justice by standing shoulder to shoulder."
MA / Zemo Ağgöz

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