29 Nov 2015

Protests Erupt Across Turkey After Killing of Kurdish Lawyer Tahir Elci

Protests erupted in several Turkish cities after a well-known Kurdish lawyer and human rights activist was killed along with two police officers on Saturday in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir. Tahir Elci, who was president of Diyarbakir Bar Association, died when gunmen clashed with security forces following a press conference. At least 10 people were injured, including journalists. The exact circumstances of the shooting remain unclear. Video footage from the scene shows Elci, wearing a grey suit, crouching as plain-clothed policemen fire pistols and take cover behind a car. Seconds later, a presumed attacker sprints past as the officers shoot at him. Elci is then seen lying face down on the pavement with blood coming from his head.

An initial forensic report said he had died when a single bullet fired from long range hit him in the back of the neck. One policeman was killed at the scene and another died from his injuries after being taken to hospital. Interior Minister Efkan Ala said in a press briefing that the shootout began when attackers fired on security forces from inside a car. But some opposition figures alleged that Elci had been deliberately targeted by the state. The Diyarbakir Bar Association described his death as a "cowardly assassination" in a press statement, while the pro-Kurdish HDP party said he had been "viciously murdered," and urged supporters to "raise their voice" in protest.

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