Call to end impunity concerning the extra-judicial killing of Nagihan Akarseland all crimes of feminicide

On the occasion of the upcoming anniversary of the political assassination of Nagihan Akarsal, the Initiative Justice for Nagihan Akarsel made a statement today in front of the UN building in Qamishlo and handed over an open letter to the UN representatives in Qamishlo.

This is the press statement to the international public:

One year ago on 4th October 2022, the Kurdish journalist, academic and women’s rights defender Nagihan Akarsel was assassinated when leaving her home in Sulaymaniyah, in Southern Kurdistan-Iraq. Despite all the demands for justice so far no legal or political measures have been taken – either to enact justice for Nagihan Akarsel or to prevent further political killings.

Not even a day after the assassination of Nagihan Akarsel, her killer was caught by the police when he was on the run towards Erbil. According to media coverage, the suspected murderer, İsmail Peker, is a Turkish citizen. Ali Rıza Güney, the Turkish Consul in Iraq, he admitted subliminally in a press statement that the killer had been commissioned by the National Intelligence Organization of Turkey MIT. However, so far no legal steps have been taken to prosecute the perpetrator and to clarify the political forces behind this murder. Neither the Kurdistan Regional Government nor the Iraqi authorities have shown any efforts to resolve this extra-juridical killing or to convict the murderer and the forces behind him.

Nagihan Akarsel initiated and led many projects of the Jineolojî Academy. She united women and people from all sections of society towards a common life in dignity and freedom. In her personality and attitudes she united the three elements of the Kurdish slogan “Jin, Jiyan, Azadi” (Woman, Life, Freedom).

The murder of Nagihan Akarsel is a continuation of the series of massacres that the Turkish state forces have been unlawfully carrying out against Kurdish women for 40 years. During the rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP)-Tayyip Erdoğan, the number of killings of the leaders of the Kurdistan Women’s Freedom Movement inside and outside the borders of the Turkish state has increased. The assassination of Nagihan Akarsel joins the systemic extra-judicial killings of Kurdish women committed by state forces during the last four decades. Especially since the beginning of the AKP-Erdogan government, extra-judicial killings targeting leading activists of the Kurdish Women’s Freedom Movement inside and outside the borders of Turkey have multiplied.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls have reiterated their concern that a high number of predominantly Kurdish civilians, including many women, have reportedly been killed by the Turkish security forces under the pretext of “counter-terrorism operations”. At the same time they called upon the Turkish state to investigate, prosecute and adequately punish the perpetrators and to “establish an independent investigation mechanism for this purpose with international assistance”. None of these recommendations have been implemented.

Since 2022, targeted extra-judicial killings of Kurdish women have increased dramatically. These killings, which violate international law, are frequently carried out by drone strikes on Kurdish territory in Iraq and in North and East Syria. In the period between January and June 2023, 53 people were killed by targeted drone attacks of the Turkish military against the citizens of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria. Among them were many women politicians and community leaders. There is clear evidence showing that the Turkish state designed also the executions of leading members of the Kurdish Women’s Movement in Paris 2013 and 2022. Yet again these crimes remain unpunished.

All these examples show the systematic crime of extra-judicial killings committed by state forces against Kurdish women rights defenders. It is only through legally holding the offenders and their employers accountable that we believe an important step will be made towards ensuring justice for the individual cases and for all victims of extra-judicial assassinations. Ending impunity of political killings, bringing perpetrators and their employers to justice, means to prevent future crimes against humanity.

Therefore, we, more than 312 women from all continents and different professions who have signed this letter, call on the UN, the Council of Europe, the Iraqi government and all relevant organisations to take urgent actions.

This is the open letter with the signature of more than 312 women from all continents and different professions :

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