The Turkish-Cypriot journalist and intellectual Kutlu Adali, a vocal opponent of Rauf Denktash’s policy of division, was investigating the looting of the Monastery of Saint Barnabas at Famagusta when unknown assailants killed him outside his home in Nicosia in July 1996. In 2005, the European Court of Human Rights found that Turkey had violated the European Convention in failing to carry out an adequate investigation into the murder. A few days ago, Atilla Peker, brother of the notorious Turkish gangster Sedat Peker, submitted written testimony to an Istanbul prosecutor, claiming that a senior officer of the Turkish intelligence service had approached him to assassinate Adali. Peker claims that he traveled to the occupied part of Cyprus, where he was under the guidance of special forces, but did not carry out the mission. Later, the officer informed him that “the Cyprus issue has been taken care of,” he says.
A Turkish prosecutor has launched an inquiry into the murder. The Turkish-Cypriot community and its news media are in a state of agitation. Niyazi Kizilyurek, the first Turkish-Cypriot member of the European Parliament (with AKEL), claims in a written question to the Commission that “the northern part of Cyprus (an EU territory) has turned into the hinterland of Turkey.” He asks how the Commission “will engage with the democratic forces of the Turkish-Cypriot community” and what steps it will take in order not to leave Turkish Cypriots, who are EU citizens, “at the mercy of Turkey.”
Adali’s unsolved murder may seem insignificant next to Sedat Peker’s riveting weekly claims and revelations regarding the entanglement of state services, politics and organized crime in Turkey, but his brother’s testimony has special meaning for Cyprus and Greece. This is not just one more bit of evidence of Turkey’s tight control of the territory it occupies (which is confirmed, in any case, by the massive mobilization that helped elect Ankara’s favorite, Ersin Tatar, to the Turkish-Cypriot leadership recently); it also highlights the high cost paid by people who stand up against Turkey’s policies. There are people of good will on both sides of the Green Line who want the island reunited in a just and viable arrangement. On both sides, journalists and others who poke into difficult issues, who seek the truth, risk far more than their careers. They deserve support, not silence.