The killing of Ahmet Yıldız (2008)
Ahmet Yıldız, 26, student at the Department of Physics at Marmara University, was shot dead in Üsküdar (a district of Istanbul on the Anatolian side) on 15 July 2008. Ahmet Yildiz's crime, his friends say, was to admit openly to his family that he was gay.
Who was Ahmet Yıldız?
Ahmet Yıldız, born 1982 in Urfa (Southeast Turkey) was living in Istanbul. He was a physics student who taught others in order to earn some money that would make him independent of his family. Ahmet Kaya, Ahmet Yildiz’s cousin, said Mr. Yildiz was the only son of a deeply religious and wealthy Kurdish family. But by coming out as gay in a patriarchal tribal family, he had become the ultimate affront to both religious and filial honor, even with parents who adored him. Ahmet’s father had warned him to return to their village and to see a doctor and imam in order to cure him of his homosexuality and get married, but Ahmet refused, Mr. Kaya said. “Ahmet loved his family more than anything else and he was tortured about disappointing them.”
The court case on the murder
Bianet of 9 September 2009 reported on the opening of the case.
The first hearing of the Ahmet Yıldız case took place in Istanbul at the Üsküdar Courthouse 1st High Criminal Court yesterday (8 September). It was the hearing of Yahya Yıldız, the victim's father, who is alleged to have killed his son because he was homosexual. In absentia, Yıldız is under charge of buying unlicensed firearms with ammunition, carrying and possessing them, premeditatedly killing of people and killing and injuring close relatives.
The court accepted witness Ümmühan Darama's request to join the case. In yesterday's hearing Darama testified that she was close to the site of crime at the time of the incident, sitting in front of her coffee shop 'Tuana Café'. When she heard gunshots she escaped to the inside. Only after going inside Darama realized that she was injured. When she looked back she saw a black Mercedes and a yellow cab, but she was not able to see who fired the gunshots.
Talking to bianet after the hearing Darama said that considering her involvement into the court case she had been warned and threatened on the phone in order not to get involved. After the murder Darama's café had been covered with gunshots so the owner was forced to hand it over to somebody else.
On 26 November 2009 the New York Times presented these details.
Prosecutors say his own father hunted him down, traveling more than 600 miles to shoot his son in Istanbul. Mr. Yildiz was killed 16 months ago. He was shot five times as he left his apartment to buy ice cream. A witness said dozens of neighbors watched the killing from their windows, but refused to come forward. His body remained unclaimed by his family, a grievous fate under Muslim custom.
His father, Yahya Yildiz, whose trial in absentia began in September, is on the run and believed to be hiding in northern Iraq.
The second hearing was again covered by Bianet of 24 December 2009. The second hearing of the trial concerned with the murder of homosexual Ahmet Yıldız took place at the Üsküdar (Istanbul) Bağlarbaşı Criminal Court of First Instance on 24 December 2009.
The victim's father and defendant in the case Yahya Yıldız could not be found yet, though an arrest warrant had been issued upon him. 2 eye-witnesses testified in today's hearing. Orhan Aymelek, alleged owner of the car that was used in the murder, did not attend the hearing because his address could not be found. Ümmühan Darman, who got injured on the day of the accident, did not attend the hearing either.
Even though it was a public hearing, members of non-governmental organizations following the case were not allowed into the court room. They made a press release in front of the courthouse after the hearing and demonstrated with banners saying, "We do not want to be killed because we are homosexual".
The case was postponed to 1 April 2010. The court decided unanimously to hear the statement of Ahmet Yıldız' partner İbrahim Can, despite the objection made by Public Prosecutor Zekeriya Şen. Eye-witnesses Sefa Mühürcü and Fatih Nur Koval described the murder as follows:
"We were coming back from sports. It was around 11.00 p.m. When we passed Tuna Café, a car entered the street driving fast and parked next to another car. We thought they were friends. One person got off the car and had a look at the person in the other car. We started to walk. After 2 steps we heard gunfire. When we looked back we saw the person from before shooting into the car 4 or 5 times. He entered his car again and they drove away quickly. The person in the car desperately tried to make the car work and hit the shutters of a pharmacy. The last thing we remember is that he took a deep breath".
After listening to the eye-witnesses, judge Burhan Karaloğlu decreed, "to enforce the imposed arrest warrant upon defendant Yahya Yıldız and to write to the Bar Association in order to find a lawyer for him".
In his evaluation after the hearing Söyle told bianet, "The trial progresses in a significantly hopeless manner. According to the indictment, Yahya Yıldız is in Northern Iraq and the matter of his capture is moving very slowly. No action is being taken related to a necessary search of the defendant by the Ministry of the Interior and/or Interpol."
On 1 April 2010 another hearing was held and again Bianet reported in English.
The Court decided to continue the search for Yahya Yıldız, prime suspect of his son's murder case. The court took the statement of İbrahim Can, Ahmet Yıldız's boyfriend. Can testified as a witness and stated, "After Ahmet's family had learned about his homosexuality, they cracked the code of his computer and got hold of his pictures".
Lawyer Osman Yayla from the Istanbul Bar Association was appointed for the legal defence of fugitive Yahya Yıldız. He said he had no requests to make since he had not been able to study the file yet. Witness Orhan Aymelek, alleged owner of the car rental the vehicle used for the murder was hired from, could not be found yet and thus did not appear at the hearing. President Judge Burhan Karaloğlu decided to launch an investigation into the whereabouts of Aymelek. The case will be continued on 30 June.
The fifth hearing was held on 25 November 2010. Kaos GL of 2 December 2010 reported on it in Turkish. Ahmet Yıldız’s partner İbrahim Can stated that his claim to become sub-plaintiff had been rejected and, therefore, he now would file a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights. During this hearing the testimony of Orhan Aymelek could finally be taken. He testified to the disadvantage of the fugitive father of the victim.
It was again Kaos GL to report on the sixth hearing on 14 March 2011 (in Turkish, translation by DTFDemocratic Turkey Forum ). During the sixth hearing at Üsküdar Heavy Penal Court No. 1 only lawyers and the partner of Ahmet Yıldız, İbrahim Can had come. As before representatives of associations such as Lambdaistanbul, İstanbul LGBT and Kaos GL and reporters of Doğan, İhlas and Dicle news agencies and the German N-TV were present. The presiding judge had changed and, in contrast to the earlier judge, he allowed spectators to follow the hearing. In addition, it was decided
- to find out what had been done on the complaint on the threats
- to search for the defendant Yahya Yıldız with a read bulletin (Interpol) and
- to call Reşit and İsmail Yıldız who had talked to the defendant by phone as witnesses
The hearing was adjourned to 16 June 2011.
Turkey has a history of honour killings. A government survey earlier this year (2008) estimated that one person every week dies in Istanbul as a result of honour killings. It put the nationwide death toll at 220 in 2007. In Turkey the law does not protect LGBTT individuals. There is no provision in law that provides for penalties in case of discrimination or human rights violations directed at LGBTT. In case of hate murders against homosexuals courts apply the condition of "heavy provocation" and lower the sentences.
Apparently Ahmet Yıldız was a member of a group calling itself Bears of Turkey. It is said that he also contributed to the online magazine Beargi, mainly written in Turkish with some articles also presented in English translation. In 2002 the group tried to start a project called "Knowing Family" (Bilen Aile). The aim of the project was to come together with members of the families and share experiences on coming out with the perspective to lift prejudices. However, there was only one more meeting in Istanbul, the notes of which were published in KaosGL of 9 November 2006. In any case the awareness of some families in Istanbul and Ankara was not strong enough to also cover traditional families in the Southeast of Turkey.
- Special edition of Beargi number 31 of August 2008, many entries are in Turkish and English with an excellent illustration
- Documentary of RTL on youtube (German)
- Some 8 video clips were uploaded by the friend username ibocankoeln
- Campaign Ahmet is my family video on youtube in different languages
- Article and video of German NTV of 15 May 2010
- Shortened version of the film on RTL with English subtitles
- ↑ See New York Times of 26 November 2009
- ↑ See The Independent of 19 July 2008
- ↑ See the report Human Rights Observation and Law Commission on LGBTT (Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transvestites and Transsexuals) Individuals and published on 27 October 2007. The DTF has made a summarized translation of the report.
- ↑ A report on the first meeting in Ankara was published in the journal Aktüel of 10 October 2002. A copy can be found on their website at http://www.ayilar.net/ayitimeline/aile/ under the heading "basından"