DEM MP Konukçu: They murdered Metin under torture

DEM Party MP Kezban Konukçu was arrested in 1996 on the same occasion as murdered journalist Metin Göktepe. She said: “They took me to the police headquarters. They murdered Metin in the gym.”

On 8 January 1996, the then journalist and current MP from the DEM party, Kezban Konukçu, as well as the correspondent of the newspaper Evrensel, Metin Göktepe, tried to attend the funeral of murdered revolutionary prisoners at the Cemevi (Alevi place of worship) in Alibeyköy. Their lives met there when they both ended up in police custody. While Konukçu was taken to the police station as a correspondent for the Direniş (Resistance) newspaper, Metin Göktepe was tortured to death by the police in the Eyüp sports hall.

In this ANF interview, Konukçu remembered this event almost exactly 28 years after it took place.

“Kurdish journalists were murdered; socialists were tortured”

Kezban Konukçu was active as a journalist for the socialist newspaper Direniş in Istanbul between 1995 and 1997. She reported that the repression against journalists was massive during this time. Kurdish journalists were murdered, while socialists in western Turkey were tortured and mistreated. In such an atmosphere of oppression, as a journalist she followed the same events as Evrensel correspondent Metin Göktepe.

“When I was arrested, I saw Metin”

She said that the detention centers were one of the places of the state repression, and recalled the killings of four revolutionaries in Ümraniye E-Type Prison. The guards had killed the prisoners in the bloody suppression of a prison riot. The murders caused great public outrage. The funerals of the murdered became targets of attacks. Konukçu, like Metin Göktepe, attended the funeral of political prisoners Orhan Özen and Rıza Baybaş at the Cemevi in Alibeyköy on 8 January 1996 as a journalist.

Thousands wanted to attend the funeral. “I was traveling to the funeral on a city government bus. The area around the Cemevi, where the funerals of the revolutionary prisoners were to take place, was cordoned off by the police. The buses had to turn around one by one and identity checks were carried out. When it was our bus's turn, the police, seeing the camera around my neck, turned directly to me and demanded my press pass.

When I showed the reporter's card of the Direniş newspaper, they said: 'Get out of the bus, socialist press outside.' I remember seeing Metin there, but I couldn't talk to him because they put us in a prison van. We were taken to Küçükköy police station, which is notorious for torture. They couldn't even accommodate us in the prisoner collection center because there were so many of us." In fact, 1,052 people were arrested and distributed to different districts, 705 ended up in the Eyüp district sports hall due to lack of space - including Metin Göktepe.

“They released everyone in a hurry.”

The deputy continued: “They selected fifteen people from among us to be sent to the terror department. At 11 pm, they hurriedly put all of us, including the 15 friends, onto buses and released us at a central location. We were surprised that they were in such a hurry. Since there were no mobile phones at the time, we didn't hear the news right away. Only in the morning did we understand the reason for their haste. They had beaten Metin to death. He was arrested at the same place that day and taken to the Eyüp sports hall.”

“After Metin’s murder, repression increased”

Tens of thousands of people attended Metin Göktepe's funeral. They walked for miles to demand justice, Konukçu said, describing how after his murder, she and other journalists once again found themselves in the police's crosshairs: "The police officers who checked our press cards pulled us out and shouted 'Socialist press, down with you'. At the time, we had friends who worked in the mainstream media and were Democrats. Ahmet Şık was one of these friends. He was working at the Cumhuriyet newspaper at the time and that day he immediately defended us against police violence by saying: ‘Let our friends go.’ Otherwise they would have confiscated our photos, broken our cameras or openly tortured us.”

“Repression has not changed, but solidarity is weaker”

Konukçu said that state repression has not changed to this day and that the free press and political prisoners are still under heavy attack. Solidarity, however, has weakened. In the past, there was great support to people who really believed in the revolution, but today in the “post-truth era” many things have become meaningless and the practice of ruling through discourse control and “appearances” has increased. More and more people fell for these suggestions. In direct connection with this development, it can also be observed in the political movement that the criterion is no longer whether you systematically change and redesign something, but rather how many “likes” you receive and how visible you are.

“We must strengthen the path and methods of common struggle”

It is necessary to understand these facts correctly and discuss them, said Konukçu, adding: “What is important is the attitude that the power of the capitalists must be ended through the joint struggle of the oppressed and working people. As the revolutionary struggle has become weaker, the methods of collective struggle have also become weaker compared to before. Today there is just as much oppression, there are no more laws, the system of exploitation has become more and more blatant, there are hunger strikes in prisons. Today we need to organize ways and methods to fight together against all these problems. A system like that in Nazi Germany is being rebuilt, we have to understand that, understand it correctly and strengthen the right line of battle against it. Just as it is possible to keep the memory of Metin Göktepe alive by defending his values, the fight can only be carried out through lived work and not through self-expression.”