[News Analysis] Unsolved murders likely to gather more dust, not clues

The number of extrajudicial killings in the country has increased, particularly since a corruption scandal went public on Dec. 17, 2013 in which senior members of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government were implicated. Then-Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who dubbed the investigation a “coup attempt” against his government, launched a witch hunt in the judiciary and police force against suspected members of what he calls a “parallel state,” a phrase he coined to refer to the faith-based Gulen movement, known also as the Hizmet movement, inspired by Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen.

After the AK Party launched a war against the Gulen movement, the government and Erdogan tried to associate the movement with the unsolved murders in an apparent move to discredit the movement, hence they prevented the exposing of the real masterminds of these incidents.

In addition, the AK Party government, which enjoys a parliamentary majority, relied on its majority to oppose the reopening of the dossiers of some of the unsolved murders.

According to Erdogan, no unsolved murders have occurred during the term of the AK Party government.

In addition, in a statement he made in 2012, Erdogan accused the “pro-status quo parties that defend Ergenekon,” a shadowy crime network that has alleged links within the state and is suspected of plotting to topple the government, of not giving sufficient support to the efforts to cast light on the unsolved murders of the past .

“Why? Because as the unsolved murders are investigated, it is seen that one side of these murders reaches to pro-status quo parties that defend Ergenekon while the other side reaches the party that became a puppet of the organization,” Erdogan said in the statement.

In a statement made in December 2014, Erdogan associated the unsolved murders in the country with the Gulen movement; Nobody recalled his earlier statement, reminding him of his claim that no unsolved murders had taken place in the country during AK Party rule.

Here are just some of the unsolved murders that have occurred during the AK Party era:

Hrant Dink: Killed in a gun attack outside the Agos newspaper offices in İstanbul’s central Osmanbey district on Jan. 19, 2007. In this case, the government is accused by some of pushing one suspected gunman in particular into the spotlight while working to protect and hide those truly responsible.

Muhsin Yazicioglu: Killed on March 25, 2009 when his helicopter fell from the sky as it headed towards Kahramanmaras in the run-up to the election. The cause of the accident has never been determined.

Rahip Andrea Santoro: A priest at the Santa Maria Church in Trabzon, Santoro was killed by a gunshot on Feb. 5, 2006. At the time of the murder, 16-year-old suspect Oguzhan Akdin was caught and given an 18-year prison sentence. Legal circles in Turkey, however, believe the only person punished in this case was the frontman and that there should be more, hinting at a much deeper situation and one that indicates that it has ties with the Zirve Publishing House murders, thus reminding of the deep state practices of the past.

The Zirve Publishing House murders: On April 18, 2007, employees at the Malatya-based publishing house were murdered for carrying out “missionary activities.” The case is still ongoing, but in the wake of the most recent hearing on Jan 21, 2015 all suspects have been set free.

Uludere: On Dec. 29, 2011, 34 civilians were killed in the Uludere area of Sirnak by bombs dropped by planes flown by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). The files on this massacre were closed and nothing was done to shed light on what actually occurred on this date.

Necip Hablemitoglu: On Dec. 18, 2002, Hablemitoglu was assassinated in front of his home. The perpetrators were never found.

ASELSAN engineers: While some Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) members proposed a research commission to look into these suspicious deaths, the proposal was rejected by the AK Party.

Ceylan Onkol: This 12-year-old girl was killed by a military mortar shell on Sept. 28, 2009 in Diyarbakir’s Lice province while she was tending sheep. Though more than five years have passed, those responsible for her death have still not been identified.