Remember Elçi, Dink, Balikci
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Dozens of local activists and community members gathered at the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles to protest the recent assassination of human rights activist and lawyer Tahir Elçi.
Elçi was the president of the Diyarbakir Bar Association and one of the most prominent Kurdish lawyers and human rights defenders in Turkey. He was shot dead with a single bullet to the back of his head on Nov. 28. Elçi died moments after delivering a speech calling for an end to the ongoing military siege of Kurdish cities in southeastern Turkey.
Protesters demanded accountability from the Turkish government, namely, the AK Party and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Members of various communities affected by Turkey’s atmosphere of racism, intimidation, and fear came together in solidarity to honor Elçi and other victims of Turkish oppression. Kurdish, Armenian, and various Middle Eastern community members were in attendance along with human rights organizations and community coalitions.
The protest, organized by the Rojava Solidarity Committee of Los Angeles and the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF), called for a fair and independent investigation of the murders of Elçi, Hrant Dink, and Sevag Balikci, and all other minority hate crimes in Turkey, as well as an end to government-sanctioned massacres of minorities, including lifting the siege on Kurdish cities, stopping the bombing of guerrilla camps, and stopping support of terror groups in Syria.
They also demanded that the U.S. government stop its support of the Turkish government, banning all arms sales to the AKP government, and suspending Turkey from NATO.
Chalk-outlines of human figures, symbolizing the bodies of Elçi and Dink, were drawn outside the Turkish Consulate’s front steps, turning the protest into the scene of a crime. A newspaper was placed on the symbolic outline representing Dink. Organizers used other forms of street theater, such as covering their mouths with duct tape, to symbolize the silencing effect that violence has on communities, and created a memorial by posting pictures of victims on the Turkish Consulate.
“The tragic murders of Tahir Elçi and Hrant Dink have brought the Armenian and Kurdish communities together in LA, along with other progressive defenders of human rights. This unity is exactly what we need to win our fight—both the fight for the freedom of oppressed peoples facing violence from the Turkish state, and against the U.S. government that has been militarily and diplomatically supporting the Turkish state,” read a statement by the Rojava Solidarity Committee of Los Angeles.
“The assassinations of Tahir Elçi and Hrant Dink largely represent what is happening to Kurds, Armenians, and other communities in Turkey right now. They are a direct extension of the genocidal policies against Armenians, Kurds, Greeks, Assyrians, and others that gave birth to the Republic of Turkey. We know that our demands for justice are stronger when we come together in common cause. This is only the beginning of our important work in fighting together for the betterment of our communities in Turkey and our occupied homelands,” read a statement by the AYF.