ÖHD publishes report on the vigil of the Şenyaşar family

The Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD) in Urfa has presented a report on the 522-day vigil of the Şenyaşar family and called on the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission to do its job.

Emine Şenyaşar and her only surviving son, Ferit Şenyaşar, have been holding a vigil for 522 days in front of the court building in Urfa to demand justice for their family members who were murdered in Suruç district on 14 June 2018 by bodyguards and relatives of AKP MP Ibrahim Halil Yıldız. The report published today by the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD) summarises the repression against mother and son during their vigil and calls on the responsible authorities to finally take action and investigate the events and background. At the same time, the organisation calls on the bar association as well as international NGOs to support the family and provide them with legal assistance. The report aims to make the serious human rights violations against the family visible. Therefore, it also deals with the events on the day of the crime and makes it clear that the Şenyaşar family's struggle only became necessary because justice was denied to them from the beginning.

Call for support and solidarity

A total of 14 cases were brought against Emine Şenyaşar, who lost her husband and two sons in the attack, for "violation of the law of assembly", "insult", "denigration of state institutions" and "obstruction of the performance of duty". Ferit Şenyaşar, who was himself seriously injured in the attack at the time, was the subject of a total of five proceedings for the same charges. Of the total of 19 preliminary proceedings, charges have been brought in four cases so far, but ten cases have been dropped due to hopelessness. Six times, the family had been arrested without reason. In addition, the report mentions that Emine Şenyaşar, as a woman, was confronted mainly with sexual violence.

The family was lynched

Mehmet Ali Aslan, a member of the ÖHD board, spoke to the Mezopotamya news agency about the situation of the Şenyaşar family and their demand for justice.

Before the massacre, the Şenyaşar family was a normal family in Suruç, Aslan said, but the attacks by AKP MP Ibrahim Halil Yıldız and his followers destroyed the family's life forever. There were no deaths in the attack on the family's shop, only injured people who were taken to the state hospital in Suruç, he said. There they were killed by a lynch mob, as was the father, Haci Esvet Şenyaşar, who rushed to the hospital to check on his sons.

Aslan points out that not only were the family members physically murdered, but following the massacre there was a widespread campaign of character assassination by state authorities accusing the family of belonging to a terrorist organisation. The investigations into the events were separated from each other, although both the attack at the shop and the events at the hospital had taken place on the same day. Fadıl Şenyaşar, who lost his father and two of his brothers in the attack on the shop and was himself seriously injured, was sentenced to 37 years in prison for "premeditated murder".

We assume that there is political pressure in this trial

Due to the repression and the unjust sentences against them, the family started a vigil in front of the court building on 9 March 2021, which they have continued without interruption for 522 days until today. The two demands the family had in their action remain unfulfilled to this day, they said. They also claim that the trial fulfils general legal principles. Except for a few alternative media outlets, the trial and the family's struggle go unmentioned in the mainstream media. The family has been subjected to structural violence in the form of lawlessness, Aslan said. "The investigation has been classified for four years. We assume that there is political pressure in this process. We call on the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission to send a delegation to talk to the Şenyaşar family."

In this context, Aslan also reports that Emine Şenyaşar, who is now 66 years old and sick, was ashamed to speak in the presence of men as a mother and wife before the terrible event. It was only because of the great pain she had to suffer that she was driven to take such an action and speak her mind openly. She said she was determined not to go home until her demands were met. "I wish Mother Şenyaşar justice after all and that she can spend her remaining time happily with the children she has left," Aslan said.