Start digging

A retired colonel, Abdülkarim Kirca, has committed suicide this week. He was found shot in the head in his apartment in Ankara. Soon after the suicide, the army started criticising the media. They had written about Col. Kirca extensively, because he was the highest-ranking colonel in the Kurdish southeast of Turkey during the nineties, when hundreds of murders were committed, the victims including for example Kurdish politicians, intellectuals and people who were believed to have ties with the terrorist PKK. There were many allegations against him, but in the end he was never convicted of anything because he was protected by the military General Staff. The army this week claimed all the media attention must have put too much pressure on Kirca, so they called on the media to be more cautious in their reporting.
Did the media attention get to him? Or was it in the end his guilty conscience? Kirca lead the army in the southeast in the nineties, a period well known for the countless unsolved murders (the most conservative estimate is about 550 murders and more than a thousand people disappeared without a trace). But now with the thorough investigation into Ergenekon, the gang that plotted to overthrow the government, there is a good chance that finally light will be shed on all these unsolved crimes. There are alleged to be wells and mass graves in the southeast were many bodies can be found, and more and more voices are being raised to make this part of the Ergenekon investigation. Was Abdülkarim Kirca afraid of what would be discovered? Was he afraid he would be charged and convicted in the end? Was he haunted at night by images from his past? We can only guess. But even though he cannot be questioned anymore about his part in what happened, what can be done is to finally start really investigating the dirty war of those days. To stop the lawlessness, to get answers, to prevent this from happening again and to give back the bodies of their loved ones to the families of the murdered and disappeared people. I’d say: it’s time to start digging.

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