The Assassination of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey

LONDON – 21 December 2016

We condemn the brutal attack against the Russian ambassador to Turkey and express our heartfelt sympathies to the families and friends of the victim. The murder of an ambassador is a violation of international human rights and should be independently investigated and punished.

What Happened
On Monday 19th December, the Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, was shot dead in Ankara by a Turkish police officer. The ambassador was attending an art exhibition, and eight bullets were fired while Karlov was making a speech. In a video footage, after the murder, the gunman shouts in Arabic and Turkish, raising his finger in the air, saying ‘Allahu akbar (God is great)…Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria… Whoever took part in this cruelty will pay the price, one by one … Only death will take me from here.’ It is said that he died in a shootout with police afterwards.

Turkish officials were quick to put the blame on the Gülen Movement. Pro-government media outlets announced this message. Reuters repeated this allegation sourcing an unnamed security official in Ankara. Turkish version of Yeni Safak said from the headline that it was a great sabotage organised by a pro-FETO assassin of the CIA.

Gülen categorically condemned the assassination and denied any allegations. He said, ‘It is the expectation of the Turkish people and the world that the government investigate the circumstances of this incident, identify those who aided the perpetrator and take the necessary precautions so that such an attack cannot be staged in the future.’

What Does This Mean?
This is a global crisis and needs to be resolved to maintain global peace and the tension over Syria. However, the government seems to avoid responsibility and casts shadow over the investigation even before it has commenced.

Since the 2013 corruption probe scandal, without any concrete investigation, the Turkish government has consistently blamed Hizmet movement for any wrongdoing from the downing of the Russian jet to the coal mining incident. The Hizmet movement was used as a very convenient scapegoat that helps Turkish officials avoid responsibility for domestic problems.

Dr Ismail Mesut Sezgin, Director of the Centre for Hizmet Studies, said:
“This is an international terrorist attack with possible serious consequences. The Turkish government should stop playing its typical blame game. The crisis is serious and trying to make a political profit out of it is -simply put- irresponsible.

The recent political developments in Turkey have destroyed media freedom and severely diminished judicial impartiality; thus, Turkey is in no position to conduct a thorough investigation into this attack. What may have led a young man to commit such a heinous crime in front of the world? How was this not noticed by his superiors?

The world needs more cooperation in the Syria crisis and Russia is an important element in that cooperation. Thus, we should urge the Turkish government to allow an international investigation into this political assassination so that it does not lead to a bigger crisis.

I advise the media to be careful about ‘unnamed top security bureaucrats’ and their political statements. After all, the reliability of the security bureaucracy in Turkey is in question here, and its inability to recognise ‘extremist’ elements has proven itself to be alarming.”

#ENDS

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