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Mehmet Kız­maz pub­lished an arti­cle on Cumhuriyet draw­ing atten­tion to four obscure dis­ap­pear­ances in which inves­ti­ga­tions are stagnating…

Mehmet Bal (58 years old) dis­ap­peared 110 days ago. He left Bat­man on Jan­u­ary 24 2020 to vis­it a son in prison in Istan­bul. He was last seen on the record­ing from a sur­veil­lance cam­era, tak­ing the boat for Kadıköy in Eminönü harbor.

The Syr­i­ac cou­ple Diril dis­ap­peared in Şır­nak on Jan­u­ary 11. The life­less body of Şimu­ni Diril (65) was found last March 20 but there has been no news of Hur­muz Diril (71) for the past 123 days.

Gülis­tan Doku (21), a stu­dent, “evap­o­rat­ed” on Jan­u­ary 5th in Tunceli (Der­sim) and has not been found for 129 days.
Their suf­fer­ing fam­i­lies have attempt­ed by every means to get some infor­ma­tion, with no results. The com­mon demand of the fam­i­lies’ lawyers: a thor­ough investigation.

mehmet bal

• Mehmet Bal’s Case

Ahmet Çelik, lawyer for the fam­i­ly of Mehmet Bal, spec­i­fies that the inves­ti­ga­tion was opened on Jan­u­ary 27 2020 and the case was dis­missed on Feb­ru­ary 28. “I filed an objec­tion, but no deci­sion has fol­lowed. In the file, one finds images of Mehmet Bal board­ing the ship, but no images have been filed of him onboard or when leav­ing the ship. No research hav­ing been con­duct­ed, the doc­u­ments state ‘his leav­ing the ship could not be deter­mined’. Yet, there are sev­er­al sur­veil­lance cam­eras near the har­bor in Kadıköy A search should yield images. The deci­sion to dis­miss the case land­ed sud­den­ly when the pros­e­cu­tor was still telling us ‘we have sev­er­al oth­er things to do“ ‘and pri­or to the arrival of the record­ings we had request­ed. This pre­ma­ture dis­missal, with no clar­i­fi­ca­tions and no suf­fi­cient search­es is sus­pect. Our doubts must be lift­ed. The atti­tude at the Secu­ri­ty Direc­torate is tru­ly deplorable. The author­i­ties who called on Bal’s chil­dren accuse them, make fun, vil­i­fy them ‘per­haps he ran off with a woman’ or ‘per­haps you are the authors of his disappearance’.”

Ercan Bal, the son of Mehmet Bal, says nei­ther the police nor the pros­e­cu­tor take this dis­ap­pear­ance seri­ous­ly. “When my broth­er remind­ed the pros­e­cu­tor that, in three hours’ time, they had found two peo­ple who had dis­ap­peared in Bur­sa, thanks to record­ings on sur­veil­lance cam­eras and phone sig­nals, he answered “that case is dif­fer­ent from this one”. How is it dif­fer­ent? Some­one who dis­ap­pears is some­one who dis­ap­pears. There are no cam­eras, both onboard and in places such as Kadıköy? This is a very sus­pi­cious situation.

Dur­ing our first vis­it to the police sta­tion in Gayret­te­pe that was respon­si­ble for my father’s case, the fact they had us leave, that the secu­ri­ty offi­cer insult­ed us, that they con­stant­ly spoke in an iron­i­cal way, as if they knew where my father was but were hid­ing it from us, I start­ed think­ing there was a prob­lem in this case. Dur­ing my meet­ing with police­men in charge, two weeks ago, he said to me ‘why should I pay atten­tion to your father at this point’.” 

As for Sal­ih Bal, a nephew, he says “if the author­i­ties looked at Mehmet Bal’s phone sig­nals, they would know where he is.”

Hasan Bal is a cousin of Mehmet Bal and the last per­son to have seen him. For Mehmet Bal, on the day he arrived in Istan­bul, on Jan­u­ary 24, went to the asso­ci­a­tion where Hasan works, “Bekirhan­lılar Derneği” locat­ed in the Bağcılar neigh­bor­hood. Mehmet Bal board­ed the ship in Kadıköy just after this vis­it. “The pros­e­cu­tor’s office told us: ‘Send you request to the Direc­torate of Dis­ap­peared per­sons in Gayret­te­pe, so that you may open a file.’ We did so. Approx­i­mate­ly one month lat­er, as we were speak­ing to the media in front of our asso­ci­a­tion, I received a con­vo­ca­tion to come make my state­ment. Things did not go well at the police sta­tion. Lat­er, I called the police­man in charge of the mat­ter ‘you keep call­ing every which day, he told me, I have plen­ty of work. I have plen­ty of files. Don’t both­er me any more.’ I asked then why Mehmet’s leav­ing the boat could not be seen when there are many cam­eras in that loca­tion. He told me ‘there are no cam­eras’. When he added ‘my con­science is clear’, I hung up.”

couple diril disparu

• The case of Syriac couple Diril

READ ALSO, in French: 
(Dis­ap­pear­ance of a Syr­i­ac cou­ple in a vil­lage of Şırnak)
Dis­pari­tion d’un cou­ple syr­i­aque dans un vil­lage de Şırnak


Remzi Diril is the priest in the Chaldean Church of Istan­bul, and son of the cou­ple that dis­ap­peared from the vil­lage of Kovankaya, Beytüşşe­bap dis­trict. He explains that the inves­ti­ga­tion has reached a sen­si­tive stage. “The pros­e­cu­tor is try­ing to tease out cer­tain clues. We are in con­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the Pros­e­cu­tor through our lawyer. He is doing every­thing he can to resolve the issue. But despite this, legal­ly speak­ing, noth­ing is mov­ing for­ward. The search­es done by the author­i­ties on April 28, 29 and 30 yield­ed no results. A few days lat­er, my broth­er found a shoe and a kneepad that had belonged to my father. We have noth­ing sol­id to go on. We can­not make any assump­tions. My moth­er’s med­ical report is not avail­able yet, but we have received a pre­lim­i­nary report of the autop­sy. It sig­nals ‘death fol­low­ing wounds’. We think our father may also have been killed and thrown into the riv­er. But I still hope he will be found alive.

Our vil­lage is one of the most remote in this region. The roads remain closed all win­ter. And in the spring, with the melt­ing snow, the rivers flow very briskly. Pro­fes­sion­als for under­wa­ter search­es did not come. The teams should come as quick­ly as pos­si­ble. Oth­er­wise, we will have to wait for July when the cur­rent abates.”

The cou­ple’s nephew, George Diril, notes that the lat­est search­es were only done on the riverbed of a few vil­lages. “We don’t know if those search­es were done with the view that my uncle would have been killed and thrown into the riv­er. But it was con­duct­ed like a mil­i­tary oper­a­tion. And the coro­ner’s report was very much delayed.”

gulistan doku disparue

• The Case of Gülistan Doku

READ ALSO, in French:
Where is Gülis­tan Doku?
Où est Gülis­tan Doku ?


Ali Çimen, lawyer for the fam­i­ly of Mun­zur Uni­ver­si­ty stu­dent Gülis­tan Doku, notes that the file being direct­ed at first toward the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a sui­cide was a mis­take. He also reminds that Zay­nal Abakarov, not­ed in the file as a sus­pect, has not even been placed in cus­tody. “Nonethe­less, some efforts were made in this file. For exam­ple, on the day of Gülis­tan’s dis­ap­pear­ance, from twelve noon to 1:30 some 400 peo­ple were heard. But we think that at that time, the notion of sui­cide was involved and that the inquest was bad­ly ori­ent­ed. Yet, on the eve of the dis­ap­pear­ance, the sus­pect, Zay­nal Abakarov argued with Gülis­tan Doku and, fol­low­ing cit­i­zen com­plaints, he found him­self appear­ing before the police. And he is also the last per­son who saw Gülis­tan on the day of her dis­ap­pear­ance. Zay­nal’s fam­i­ly was wit­ness to impor­tant argu­ments at the house. Most sig­nif­i­cant­ly, the day of the dis­ap­pear­ance, around 17:00h, Zay­nal sent a mes­sage to G., a friend of Gülis­tan’s say­ing ‘she is the one who pro­voked this’. G. informed the police sta­tion of this message.

But, go fig­ure out why, in this case, no oth­er notion than sui­cide is tak­en into account and noth­ing seri­ous is under­tak­en in the even­tu­al­i­ty that it is a case of fem­i­ni­cide. Con­se­quent­ly, no pro­ce­dures are under­tak­en con­cern­ing the sus­pect Zay­nal, for exam­ple no con­fis­ca­tion of his phone, no cus­tody. Yet there should exist a legit­i­mate sus­pi­cion and Zay­nal should be arrest­ed. He should have been inter­ro­gat­ed, not in Alanya but in Tunceli where the dis­ap­pear­ance occurred. Today, Zay­nal is not even under a pro­hi­bi­tion to leave the coun­try. This vision of a sui­cide is a mis­take that has dis­ori­ent­ed the inquest. More­over, the author­i­ties in charge of the inquest have not expressed their opin­ion. They may pos­si­bly still think it is a suicide.

On the day of Gülis­tan’s dis­ap­pear­ance, Zay­nal’s father, E.V. who is a police­man, was on hol­i­day. We do not know where he was, what he was doing. There is noth­ing in the file about him. All he says is sim­ply that “the car was stuck, that is why I went”. But he does not declare where he went, while Zay­nal was held for an hour because he did not have his papers on him.”

Ali Çimen asks: “Why would a police­man make a false state­ment? Why is this disp­pear­ance being han­dled by the office where the sus­pec­t’s father works?” and he adds: “All of the infor­ma­tion received to this day comes main­ly from tes­ti­monies by teach­ers, Gülis­tan’s friends and oth­er cit­i­zens who went to the police sta­tion to make spon­ta­neous dec­la­ra­tions. None of the infor­ma­tion received fig­ured in Zay­nal or his par­ents’ state­ment, nor were they revealed by the police inquest. As an exam­ple, fol­low­ing match­ing dec­la­ra­tions from two spo­na­neous wit­ness­es who saw Gülis­tan in a spe­cif­ic loca­tion at 16h44 revealed that she was still alive at 16h44 and the pros­e­cu­tor extend­ed the inquest until 19:00h.”

Lawyer Ali Çimen spec­i­fies that he took the file on the 80th day of the inquest. He then sub­mit­ted requests. “The requests were accept­ed, but not a sin­gle doc­u­ment was added to the file. Our requests are for sim­ple things that can eas­i­ly be answered. For exam­ple the traf­ficked reg­is­tra­tions of the sus­pect are not on file (HTS – His­tor­i­cal Traf­fic Search), his cell phone has not been exam­ined. Most impor­tant is know­ing what hap­pened after 16h44 when Gülis­tan was last seen alive. That is the huge void. A sui­cide the­o­ry says Gülis­tan would have thrown her­self from a bridge locat­ed on a dam. The cam­era record­ings were poor, we can­not deter­mine Gülis­tan’s sit­u­a­tion on the bridge. The gen­darmerie declared they could not improve or increase the image by more than 5%. How­ev­er, fol­low­ing our request for an improv­ment of the images, the record­ings were sent to TÜBİTAK [Sci­en­tif­ic and Tech­no­log­i­cal Research Coun­cil of Turkey] and a pri­vate firm autho­rized by the Istan­bul Palace of Jus­tice. This is the last advance in the file. We are await­ing the doc­u­ments with the results.”

Ali Çimen adds, “author­i­ties prob­a­bly con­sid­er that Gülis­tan’s body is in the water of the dam. But we must remem­ber that two peo­ple have lost their lives in this same loca­tion, at dif­fer­ent times, both well before Gülis­tan’s dis­ap­pear­ance. Their bod­ies were found. This prob­a­bly means that Gülis­tan’s body is not in the water. Her fam­i­ly is ask­ing “we know Gülis­tan is not there, but if you are search­ing for her in the dam, then emp­ty it.” It is not very dif­fi­cult to emp­ty the dam but the staff says the water lev­el does not allow for it. On this top­ic, the pre­fect would have made a promise to Gülis­tan’s fam­i­ly, but no pro­ce­dures have been imple­ment­ed. The Water Direc­torate (DSI) has also announced that this would be a cost­ly oper­a­tion. Speak­ing of cost is unac­cept­able when it is a ques­tion of dis­cov­er­ing a young wom­an’s fate.

In any event, we demand that the sus­pect be arrest­ed and that a more just and thor­ough inquest be car­ried out.”

Comments by Kedistan

In a coun­try where jus­tice and the police dai­ly demon­strate toad­ies’ faith­full­ness to the regime by arrest­ing and sen­tenc­ing for motives out­shin­ing one anoth­er in their inven­tive­ness, “trou­ble­some dis­ap­pear­ances” always raise sus­pi­cions. As a reminder, let us men­tion the deep trau­mas caused in the years 1980/90 when kid­nap­pings and dis­ap­pear­ances of oppo­nents or peo­ple con­sid­ered as such, were legion. The Sat­ur­day Moth­ers still tes­ti­fy of these dis­ap­pear­ances by obsti­nate­ly demon­strat­ing in order to receive infor­ma­tion about those who were their chil­dren then.

In cas­es where the police or the jus­tice sys­tem balk at open­ing an inquest or dis­miss cas­es with­out look­ing fur­ther, suf­fer­ing fam­i­lies may legit­i­mate­ly sus­pect tac­it, or active, col­lu­sions with the authors of mur­ders or fem­i­ni­cides. This is why ques­tion­ing plac­ards appear reg­u­lar­ly on social media, like a covert crit­i­cism of the regime and the State’s institutions.

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges –
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Le petit mag­a­zine qui ne se laisse pas caress­er dans le sens du poil.