Family of missing Kurdish woman meets with opposition politicians at Turkish parliament

The family of Gülistan Doku, a young Kurdish woman who went missing on January 5, 2020, met with opposition politicians at the Turkish parliament on Tuesday, the Mezopotamya news agency (MA) reported.

Doku’s parents and older sister wanted to speak to members of the press before they went inside the parliament building but were prevented from doing so by the police. The family was upset by the police behavior but still attended the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and Republican People’s Party (CHP) parliamentary group meetings.

During the meetings, Doku’s sister Aygül Doku said the last two years had been incredibly painful for her family. “We want those responsible for my sister’s disappearance to be held accountable,” she said. “Authorities promised they would find my sister, dead or alive. However, instead of helping us they allowed the prime suspect to walk free.”

CHP deputy Sezgin Tanrikulu said in a tweet after the meeting that the authorities were deliberately blocking investigations into the circumstances of Doku’s disappearance.

The family has been staging protests in front of a courthouse in Tunceli since July 2021, saying the police covered up the fate of their daughter and failed to do its job. Their protests have attracted police intervention.

Doku, 21, went missing in Tunceli, where she was attending university. She was last seen arguing with her boyfriend, Zaynal Abarakov, in front of a bakery. Later, images of her sitting on a bridge over a reservoir emerged, prompting authorities to believe she had died by suicide and police searching the reservoir.

However, there was no sign of Doku’s body, and the family filed a complaint against Abarakov. According to the Tunceli Public Prosecutor’s Office there was no indication that someone had jumped into the reservoir at the time Doku was said to have been seen at the bridge. Doku’s family argued that this was a clear indication that their daughter had not died by suicide and that Abarakov could be responsible for her disappearance.

The Justice for Gülistan Committee, a civil society organization that is monitoring her case, claimed the police had failed to carry out its responsibilities. According to the committee, the testimonies of Doku’s friends were not taken for hours after they reported her missing.

One woman identified as Dilek said that after she spoke to law enforcement, the phrase “Gülistan said she would throw herself into the lake” was added to her statement without her knowledge. Police records also indicate conflicting accounts about the day Doku disappeared.

The committee believes Abarakov’s stepfather Engin Y., who is also a policeman, is involved in a coverup. Engin Y. was part of the investigation and was the first police officer to report that “an object had dropped into the lake” at the time Doku went missing. Engin Y.’s report informed the course of the investigation and the search of the lake.

Engin Y. is also currently under investigation for sharing confidential information and documents in the case with the press.

According to Doku’s sister, Aygül Doku, her sister and Abarakov had a disagreement the day before she disappeared. Abarakov tried to force Doku into a car, but she managed to get away. Doku’s family is demanding that the authorities conduct a thorough investigation and determine what happened to the young woman.

Many women’s rights organizations including the Women’s Committee and We Will Stop Femicide Platform expressed solidarity with Doku’s family and urged the authorities to take her disappearance seriously.

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