Witness to Elçi murder, YPS member Yakışır speaks of an assassin

The only witness to Amed Bar Association Chair Tahir Elçi’s murder, YPS member Uğur Yakışır said that there was an assassin positioned close to the Japon passage and that he opened fire, as a result of which Yakışır was wounded himself.

It has been one year since Amed Bar Association Chair Tahir Elçi was murdered on November 28, 2015. Witness to the murder, Uğur Yakışır spoke to the ANF and revealed that Elçi was murdered by state forces.

YPS member Uğur Yakışır and his cousin Mahsun Gürkan were seen in the released footage running towards the Four Pillar Minaret after the clash with the police in Balıkçılarbaşı zone, and the media had tried to show them as the perpetrators.

Uğur Yakışır and Mahsun Gürkan were part of the Sur resistance that continued for 4 months. Mahsun Gürkan was martyred during the process and Uğur Yakışır survived, as the only witness to the murder of Tahir Elçi. Yakışır managed to push through the Sur blockade and reached the self-government zones, and his statement reveals that the AKP police is responsible for the murder and Elçi was specifically targeted.


It all started when Uğur Yakışır and Mahsun Gürkan were returning from their cousin Süleyman Yakışır’s funeral, who was martyred in a YPS action in front of the Diyarbakır Maternity Hospital.

Yakışır said they took the cab waiting in front of the Yenikapı Cemetery after the funeral and they asked the cab driver “if he was busy, if he was available, if he could take them to Gaziler neighborhood”.

The driver said he could. They took the cab, but realized the cab driver was a police officer on the way when police radio sounded off in the car.

Then they told the driver to drop them off, and took another cab on the street. They told that cab driver they were going to Balıkçılarbaşı. After a while, the new driver called somebody and said, “Don’t go up, I’m coming down.” They didn’t fully understand the situation. The police was waiting for the young men in Gaziler because they told the first driver they were going there.

The second driver told the police waiting in Gaziler the new meeting point in code. Yakışır wanted to get off in front of the Kervansaray when they approached Balıkçılarbaşı. When they stopped, Yakışır handed over the money:

“If I’m not mistaken, it was a 100 lira bill. The driver said, ‘Aren’t you going to get off a little further down?’ We said no. Meanwhile he continued to drive towards Balıkçılarbaşı. We asked him to stop. Then he patted his pockets, said he didn’t have change and he will get change from a shop ahead. That is how we ended up in Balıkçılarbaşı. As soon as the car stopped, I saw three policemen coming towards us. One of them had a Kalashnikov. So I readied my gun. When one of them pointed his gun at me as soon as the door was open, I shot at him. Then I shot at the police standing in front of me. I was sitting in the front seat. Meanwhile, the policeman with the Kalashnikov ran, and I saw the driver run too. Mahsun was in the back seat, he had dropped his clip in the car and he didn’t get a chance to find it, so he never used his gun. Then we wanted to go in the street that opens to the Four Pillar Minaret. There is another place to the right of this street. I was going to escape towards there. When I came across three more policemen there, I shot at them too. I also saw these policemen get shot.”


Yakışır said Mahsun Gürkan entered the street towards the Four Pillar Minaret before him and continued: “He was shouting towards me and I heard his voice. I couldn’t understand what he said because of the gunfire. I started running after him into the street. I wanted to take my back up clip from my pocket as I was out of bullets. I thought I took the clip from my back pocket, but it turns out it was my phone. I was running toward the Four Pillar Minaret, with no bullets in my gun, and I was holding my phone in my other hand.

You can see in the footage that I have my phone in my hand too. As I was running like this, I was under intense fire both from the front and the back. When I approached the policemen shooting at me, I threw the gun in my hand towards them because I was out of bullets. I was still running. As I was passing, I saw somebody on the ground over at the Four Pillar Minaret. I didn’t know who he was. Mahsun had ran past before me. I ran to the church’s street.”

Yakışır said he ran a little further and reached the area under YPS control, and that he saw Mahsun Gürkan there.

“He had also crossed the position we call the Four Pillar Minaret position and came back to look at me from above. I was wounded in my hand, my neck and my foot in the shooting. Mahsum hadn’t taken any bullets, he was fine. There he told me he dropped his clip in the car and couldn’t take any shots. Yakışır also said that Gürkan told him he saw somebody fall as he was running.

Yakışır said Gürkan also didn’t know that the murdered man was Tahir Elçi and continued: “After we talked for a while, we went to meet our friends deeper in the area held by the YPS forces. There they told us Tahir Elçi was murdered. Right after this event the curfew was put in place.”


Uğur Yakışır and Mahsun Gürkan crossed over to YPS areas and joined the Sur resistance and Mahsun Gürkan was martyred during the process. The only witness to the Elçi murder, Uğur Yakışır, said they were taken to that area knowingly by the plan of the cab driver and the police. Yakışır said there was an assasin positioned close to Japon passage who also shot at him and wounded him played a part in Tahir Elçi’s murder.

“We didn’t know up to that point that there was a press statement there, a group was reading a statement, and Tahir Elçi was there and that he lost his life. Again, after we headed towards that street, we weren’t able to fire a single bullet, we couldn’t clash. Mahsun had no clip. And I had emptied mine in the first round right after the car, and didn’t have the chance to use my second one,” said Yakışır and suggested that Elçi might have been assassinated.

Yakışır also said that as he was running, he was shot at from the Japon passage side looking over the street: “There were both single shots fired towards me from that direction, and the sound of the gun was different. I guessed from my training that this was the sound of an assassin rifle. One of these shots wounded me in the neck. There is a possibility that Tahir Elçi was also assassinated from there. They could have taken us in custody when we were in Yenikapı Cemetery or on different spots along the way, or they could have stopped us and intervened. According to footage we saw afterwards, they were following us both from behind and ahead. Again, the driver’s insistence, stalling and driving us towards the street is suspicious. They took us to that street corner deliberately and consciously.”