Kurdish lawyer shot dead at press conference

A prominent human rights lawyer was fatally shot Nov. 28 while delivering a press statement in Diyarbakir, Turkey. Tahir Elci was an influential figure in the largely Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, and he was the head of the Diyarbakir Bar Association. Elci was pronounced dead at a hospital shortly after the shooting. Elci claimed he had received death threats in recent weeks via his Twitter account. Last month, Turkish authorities arrested Elci for his public statement that the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is not a terrorist organization. The PKK, a separatist group officially launched in 1984, is considered a terrorist group by the government of Turkey, the US and the EU. Two police officers and a journalist also suffered injuries during the shooting. The conflict between the government and the PKK has increased in recent months, after a two-year ceasefire. Following Elci's death, government officials have suggested that Elci was killed during a gun fight between the Turkish police and the PKK. The Diyarbakir Bar Association claim that Elci was targeted in a planned attack.

From Jurist, Nov. 28. Used with permission.

Note: BBC News indicates that two police officers were also killed in the attacks, and that demonstrations declaring "We are all Tahir Elci" and "You can't kill us all" are breaking out in both Diyarbakir and Istanbul. He was slain while making a speech in support of a ceasefire and return to the peace process with the PKK.