Saturday, 19 July 2008

Was Ahmet Yildiz the victim of Turkey's first gay honour killing? (The Independent)

A chilling story from The Independent... This guy is perhaps the first known victim of gay honour killing in Turkey. "Ahmet Yildiz's crime, his friends say, was to admit openly to his family that he was gay."

Full story - The Independent, 19 July 2008; below are selected extracts:

In a corner of Istanbul today, the man who might be described as Turkey's gay poster boy will be buried – a victim, his friends believe, of the country's deepening friction between an increasingly liberal society and its entrenched conservative traditions.

Ahmet Yildiz, 26, a physics student who represented his country at an international gay gathering in San Francisco last year, was shot leaving a cafe near the Bosphorus strait this week. Fatally wounded, the student tried to flee the attackers in his car, but lost control, crashed at the side of the road and died shortly afterwards in hospital. His friends believe Mr Yildiz was the victim of the country's first gay honour killing.

"He fell victim to a war between old mentalities and growing civil liberties," says Sedef Cakmak, a friend and a member of the gay rights lobby group Lambda. "I feel helpless: we are trying to raise awareness of gay rights in this country, but the more visible we become, the more we open ourselves up to this sort of attack."

Turkey was all but closed to the world until 1980 but its desire for European Union membership has imposed strains on a society formerly kept on a tight leash. As the notion of rights for minorities such as women and gays has blossomed, the country's civil society becomes more vibrant by the day. But the changes have brought a backlash from traditionalist circles wedded to the old regime. [...]

"The media ignores or laughs off violence against gays," says Buse Kilickaya, a member of the gay lobbying group Pink Life, adding that Ahmet Yildiz's death "risks being swept under the carpet and forgotten like other cases in the past". Turkey has a history of honour killings. A government survey earlier this year 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 the majority of cases, the victims are women, but Mr Yildiz's friends suspect he may be the first recorded victim of a homosexual honour killing.

"We've been trying to contact Ahmet's family since Wednesday, to get them to take responsibility for the funeral," one of the victim's friends said yesterday, standing outside the morgue where his body has been for three days. "There's no answer, and I don't think they are going to come." The refusal of families to bury their relatives is common after honour-related murders. [...]

*source of photo - The Independent


artmika said...

PinkNews reports that "The partner of murdered gay student Ahmet Yildiz has been forced to flee Turkey in fear of his life.[...]

His partner, who held a German passport, left the country on the advice of the consulate.

He had no rights over his partner's body, which has been left lying in the city morgue."

artmika said...

More updates - via PinkNews :

The body of Ahmet Yildiz, Turkey's first suspected victim of a gay "honour killing," has been removed from the city morgue.

The remains of the 26-year-old physics student had been left there by his family, a move common in "honour killings" cases.

In Turkey only family members of the deceased have rights over the body.

While reports say Mr Yildiz's corpse has been collected, no one knows which family member has claimed it. [...]

Homophobia in Turkey has always been rife, but according to Mr Yildiz's partner, it has gotten worse over the last four years.

He describes homophobia in Turkey to be "unbelievably bad."

"I can only speak for the Istanbul area but in the countryside it is much worse. In the country honour plays too strong a role for the family," he said.

Mr Yildiz's partner is not optimistic about his chances to bring Ahmet's murderers to justice.

"I know the Turkish system. I know I haven't got a leg to stand on. Human rights are known and accepted in the West but are not freely available in Turkey.

"I have no claim to his estate and body and cannot even collect my personal belongings from his flat. I cannot even bury my loved one.

"Apart from giving my statement to the press, I as an individual have absolutely no chance to bring his parents to justice for this murder of their son and my partner."

Mr Yildiz's partner has given statements to the police at the site of Ahmet's murder, as well as handing in a signed statement to the local police station.

He fled Turkey the night of Mr Yildiz's murder and has been living in fear of his life since.

artmika said...

WOW factor: Diaspora Armenian making gay-themed Turkish film, receiving prize for it in Turkey