Saturday, February 9, 2008, Turkish Daily News
Orhan Kemal CENGIZ
I am facing difficulties in writing this article. It is even difficult to explain how and why I find it difficult to write this piece. Anyway, after having carefully weighed it, I decided to go on and write it. Why it is difficult? Because I will be giving a response to a seemingly personal attack. Furthermore, by writing these articles, I may be increasing the risk I am taking as a result of my human rights work. And finally, these revelations may provoke more attacks against me and the legal team, which may serve the attackers’ purpose of creating confusion and smoke surrounding the Malatya massacre case (On Apr. 18, 2007, three Christian missionaries were ruthlessly murdered by a gang of Turkish nationalists in the eastern Anatolian city of Malatya. The killers broke into Zirve Yayıncılık, a Bible publishing company, first tortured and then killed their victims by slitting their throats.) However, finally, I have come to the conclusion that this is a historical responsibility on me. We have had enough tolerance towards the irritation that we have been confronting for some time.
This is a serial about some news,informer letters and personal support letters, all of which I believe have been written and prepared by the ‘same hand’ in order to create ‘disinformation and confusion’ about a case as well as aiming at intimidating those who try to protect the victims rights.
To explain what I am trying to say, I will have to make long quotations from some texts and I would like to thank you for your understanding. As it is known, a lot of controversies rose in the context of Malatya massacre case and the case got a massive coverage in the press and media. However, there is another battle of nerves behind the close doors and I will try to give you a glimpse of it.
After the horrendous incident took place in Malatya, while the investigation continued, I received an informer letter. Who am I in connection to this murder case? I am the legal consultant of alliance of the Protestant organizations and the legal representatives of the victims. In this letter, someone with the name of ‘Ali Aslan’ was accusing high-ranking gendarme officers, a professor of theology and one of the directors of an ultra nationalist party with conspiracy to commit these murders. According to this short letter, if these people’s prior telephone conservations were checked it could be established that all of them are in contact. Then I did not have a deep knowledge about the case file (it was declared confidential until the prosecutor brings his case against the accused) and I did not pay enough attention to this letter. However, after a while our legal team sent it to the prosecutor with a petition accompanying it.
It was the first sign that some dark relations were surrounding this case. The second sign came when we first went to Malatya a few days before the first hearing. Then we realized that there had already been a campaign against me and the legal team in the local media. It was quite surprising to see the hostility towards us. Some people, for some reason were quite irritated with the fact that the victims are being represented with a strong legal team. In addition to that, when we looked into some of the details in these news we came to the conclusion that some of the information contained in these pieces could not have been gathered without intercepting our telephone conversations and electronic communication. I will explain these elements in the following pieces. But, first of all I would like to give you the local taste.
Here you can read a long excerpt from one of the local newspaper covering the Malatya murder case.
The title of the article reads: “Is this a new game?”
Let us read the rest of it together:
“It has been indicated that on Friday, Nov. 23, 2007, a huge army of lawyers will participate in the hearings regarding the Zirve publishing house incident. In addition to the huge army of lawyers and the German television channels that will participate in the hearings, it has been noted that Cengiz, who has been the legal consultant for the Association of Turkish Protestant Churches since 2002, came earlier to Malatya and has reserved space for 27 people at the Altin Kayisi Hotel, possibly with the intention of influencing the court, due to the importance of this case. It has been observed that lawyers from the Diyarbarkir Bar Association will be among the army of lawyers coming to Malatya to participate in the hearings regarding the Zirve Publishing house murders. Among them will be the lawyer of the PKK terrorist organization leader, Abdullah Ocalan. Some are interpreting this as a deliberate and planned attempt to shape public opinion. According to the information that has been obtained so far, those attending the hearing on Friday will include: Izmir Bar Association Lawyers, Nalan Erken, Murat Dinçer, Oya Aydın, Hafize Çobanoglu, Ali Koç and Serkan Cengiz; İstanbul Bar Association lawyers, Fethiye Cetin (who handled Hrant Dink’s case), Hakan Bakırcıoğlu (the lawyer for Agos Newspaper) and Ayse Batum (one of the lawyers who visited Abdullah Ocalan at Imrali); and Diyarbakir Bar Association Lawyers, Tahir Elci and Sezgin Tanrikulu.”
Why Orhan Cengiz?
Following the murder that came to light at the Zirve Publishing House, İhsan Özbek, the Senior Pastor of the Kurtulus Churches and the President of the Turkish Protestants, came to Malatya and said he would follow the event closely. On his visit to Malatya he said, “If necessary, we will sell snails in a Muslim neighborhood.” Some believe that this remark, construed to be provocative, led to the decision to withdraw İhsan Özbek and bring in Orhan Kemal Cengiz, as a replacement.
Attempts to conflate three events?
On Sunday, Feb. 5, 2006, Andrea Santoro, the 61-year-old priest of the Santa Maria Catholic Church in Trabzon was killed after celebrating Mass. In February 2007, Hrant Dink, the General Manager of the Agos Newspaper, was killed in an armed attack outside Akbank on Gazi Caddesi in Şişli Halasgar. On Apr. 18, 2007, the German citizen Tilmann Ekkehart Geske, Necati Aydın and Uğur Yüksel were killed in the Zirve Publishing House in Malatya. A desire to conflate three separate events has been noted.
It is noted that, in the past, those aiming to divide the country along the lines of right left, Sunni Alevi, or Kurdish Turkish, refused to give up their aspirations and received support from outside the country. It is necessary not to forget that these events are being brought together in an attempt to make them appear as a genocide or enmity between religions…It has become known that lawyer Orhan Kemal Cengiz will hold a press conference following the hearing…
We will continue…