21 years ago on January 8th, photojournalist and reporter Metin Göktepe was brutally beaten to death by police in İstanbul who took him, along with hundreds of others, into custody at a commemoration ceremony of two leftist inmates who had been killed in a riot at Ümraniye prison earlier.
Though charges were initially denied by the suspects, the case lasted for years and was transferred to several courts in different provinces around Turkey for ‘security reasons.’ Five officers who were eventually found guilty of murder were sentenced to 7 years in jail, however, were freed on parole after serving only about 20 months of their jail time.
On Sunday, Göktepe was honored in a ceremony held at Kemer Cemetery of İstanbul’s Esenler district with the attendance of his mother Fadime Göktepe, mother of Berkin Elvan, Saturday Mothers, human rights advocates, representatives and members of numerous political parties and civil society groups, media professionals, and his former colleagues from Evrensel newspaper, which he had worked for.
Message of Göktepe’s mother: ‘I know the murderers of my son’
Göktepe’s mother gave the following message: “My dear Metin was killed 21 years ago; he was a journalist. For me, all laborers, women, and children are Metin! Fatih (chief editor of Evrensel) and Ahmet (recently detained journalist Ahmet Şık) are same as Metin, for me! I love them all as much as I love my son Metin. These people keep the memory of Metin alive.
But what does the government do? They should just resign! They have arrested everyone and there are people dying everyday... Why do they jail our lawyers? Why do they torture people? Tell me, why is Ahmet Şık in jail? Because, he wrote the truth! That is why Metin was killed: for going after the truth... And, I know the murderers!”
Göktepe’s sister: ‘Today, things are even worse’
Speaking to Erk Acarer from BirGün, Göktepe’s sister Meryem Göktepe notes that what Turkey is going through today is actually worse than the downfall that had been present during the time of killing of his brother in Turkey, adding: “What was being done secretly in past is now being done openly. At those times (90’s), the government used to apologize. Law did not use to be efficient and direct at those years, either, but it was functioning. Of course, it was not healthy, at all. But today, we do not even have those!”
Journalists and human rights advocates: ‘Each of us is Metin!’
Human rights advocates and journalists attending the ceremony carried along with them banners written on them ‘Each of us is Metin’ and ‘Free journalists’, emphasizing their determination to continue fighting against injustice through truthful journalism and to keep alive memories of Göktepe and other journalists who were victimized by state officials.
Turkey currently has one of the most alarming record of restrictions on media as nearly 150 journalists remain in custody or in detention and hundreds of media outlets have been shut down in the name of a latest crackdown launched by Turkey’s government in response to a failed coup attempt in last year on July 15th.