Three decades after Abdi Ipekci, editor-in-chief of the Turkish daily Milliyet, was shot dead in his car on 1 February 1979 by Mehmet Ali Agca, a right-wing militant who later escaped from jail and attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II in May 1981, IPI is still calling for justice.
On 18 January, Ali Agca was freed from the Sincan high security prison, near Ankara, after serving his sentence. Many journalists in Turkey feel that Ipekci has been denied justice, since those who collaborated with Ali Agca on the killing of Ipekci, as well as on Agca’s escape from prison are still at large.
“İpekçi’s murder is a ‘Justice Denied’ case for us Turkish journalists,” said IPI Board Member Ferai Tinc, referring to the IPI Justice Denied Campaign against impunity for the murderers of journalists, and the unjust imprisonment of journalists. Tinc, a columnist for the Hürriyet Daily, is also the Chairwoman of the IPI Turkish National Committee. “We call on the authorities not to close the İpekçi case with the release of Ağca and to conduct proper investigations in order to clarify all the questions that have not been answered till now,” she added.
An active member of IPI, Ipekci was elected to the IPI Executive Board in 1964 and became Vice Chairman in 1971. He was organizing an international conference on political extremism and the media in Turkey when he was killed. He dedicated his professional life to helping build bridges between Turkish and Greek journalists, and speaking ceaselessly for national unity and reconciliation, and against violence and terrorism.
After his death, Ipekci’s close friend, then Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, said: “The bullets that killed him were intended for Turkey’s democracy and constitutional order.”
IPI Director David Dadge said: “The Turkish government owes it to Abdi Ipekci, and to all journalists, to do everything it can to bring to justice those who planned his killing. Otherwise there can be no closure for his family, friends and colleagues. No unsolved murder of a journalist should ever be forgotten.”
Ipekci was honoured as an IPI World Press Freedom Hero in the year 2000 in recognition of his efforts to protect democratic rights and freedoms.
*This article was corrected to note that Ipekci was murdered in 1979.