Thousands gather in Diyarbakir to mourn death of Turkish lawyer
Hundreds of mourners follow a vehicle transports the coffin of killed Kurdish Lawyer Tahir Elci during his funeral the day after his assassination in Diyarbakir, on November 29, 2015. (AFP/Ilyas Akengin)
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Thousands of people gathered in Turkey’s southeast province of Diyarbakir on Sunday for the funeral of a prominent Kurdish lawyer who was shot dead yesterday.
Tahir Elci, 49, the president of Diyarbakir Bar Association, was killed in Diyarbakir’s Sur district just after he spoke at a news meeting.
There were emotional scenes at the funeral, where some of Elci’s relatives were clearly distressed.
Elci’s body was taken from a local hospital and taken to the Human Rights Monument in Diyarbakir in funeral cortege where banners read, ‘We will never forget you’ in Turkish and Kurdish.
Speaking during the ceremony, Selahattin Demirtas, the co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said that Elci left “peace” as his legacy.
“We will carry Elci’s last words as a flag of peace,” Demirtas, who is also a lawyer, said: “We did not want war, blood, death; we wanted to live in our lands freely.”
“We doubt that this political murder will completely become clear,” he added.
HDP members, lawyers, and a senior Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy leader Sezgin Tanrikulu attended the funeral.
Elci's body was buried at Yenikoy Asri Cemetery in Diyarbakir.
Diyarbakir also hosted the funeral of the two police officers who died in the same attack on Saturday.
The local provincial security directorate held a funeral ceremony for Ahmet Ciftaslan and Cengiz Erdur.
According to Turkish security sources, Elci had been making a statement to the media about the historic Dort Ayakli Minare mosque, damaged by the "terrorist organization" PKK in October.
At about 11.00 a.m. (0900 GMT) police officers stopped a taxi 100 meters from where Elci had been holding a press conference.
The passengers inside the car opened fire, killing one police officer on the spot and injuring two others, one of whom succumbed to his injuries later that day in hospital.
Shortly after the attack on the police officers, one of the assailants ran towards a back street where Elci had just held the press conference, police said.
A new clash erupted, in which Elci died and an Anadolu Agency reporter was injured.