Parliament fails to set up commission to examine unsolved murders
Parliament has thus far failed to establish a commission to investigate unsolved murders that occurred in Turkey in the last decade despite a petition filed by a victims' family group that the legislature convene a body of deputies to uncover the truth concerning the crimes.
The Social Memory Platform (TBP), which comprises 27 families that joined forces to lobby for a resolution to the unsolved cases, filed a petition with Parliament earlier this year demanding that a commission be set up to investigate the murders.
Turkey witnessed numerous unresolved murders that claimed the lives of 17,500 people, particularly during the 1990s. The ruling and opposition parties promised to establish an investigative commission, but none has been set up in the past six months. Moreover, three motions filed with the General Assembly to this end were rejected. "We want the promises made to us to be kept. Parties should act sincerely and do their part," says Canan Kaftancıoğlu, the TBP's spokeswoman and the daughter-in-law of author Ümit Kaftancıoğlu, who died in an unsolved murder.
The TBP started its activities by supporting the Hrant Dink trial, which is being heard at the İstanbul High Criminal Court. Several days later, 27 families gathered together, on Feb. 11, 2010, and filed a petition with Parliament, demanding the establishment of a parliamentary commission to examine politically motivated unsolved murders.
Signatories of this petition included Filiz Ali, the daughter of Sabahattin Ali; Sezen Öz, the wife of Doğan Öz; Nükhet İpekçi, the daughter of Abdi İpekçi; Canan Kaftancıoğlu; Bilge Emeç, the wife of Çetin Emeç; Özge Mumcu, the daughter of Uğur Mumcu; Meryem Göktepe, the sister of Metin Göktepe; and Rakel Dink, the wife of Hrant Dink.
The families were hopeful while leaving Parliament, but when main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Mersin deputy Ali Rıza Öztürk's motion to set up the commission was rejected at the General Assembly on April 6, the families experienced their first disappointment.
The reason cited for the rejection was that the powers and authorities of parliamentary research commissions should be increased. The families had already made such a request in their petitions. On April 22, Öztürk submitted another motion, but it too was rejected. He then submitted yet a third motion on Oct. 20, but it was rejected as well.
'We learned a lot from the Susurluk commission'
Six months after submitting their first application, TBP spokeswoman Kaftancıoğlu assessed the progress made. "A deputy from the ruling party said while addressing Parliament that research commissions have insufficient powers. Why are commissions then set up in other areas? They have to answer this," she said.
"A commission had been established to look into the Susurluk scandal. We had access to the little information available on this thanks to this commission," Kaftancıoğlu said, noting their disappointment with the current process. "We stressed that this issue is so important that it cannot be used to promote political gains. If promises made are not fulfilled, we will conclude that our demands are being manipulated for political ends. Our petition has turned into a subject of contention between political parties," she added.
Kaftancıoğlu further noted that the TBP comprises people of diverse political views who have united toward a common goal. "People's political views should not be mentioned in an effort to uncover the truth. If we can come together around a common denominator despite our differences, we expect Parliament to act with the same maturity. We expect 550 deputies to develop the same discourse about this matter," she said.
While there is obvious deadlock over this matter, she added, it is Parliament that will unravel it. She did not question what parties are sincere and what parties are not. "We are not supposed to comment about their sincerity. Their actions testify to that," she said.