Security forcefully removes missing woman’s sister from graduation ceremony

The sister of Gülistan Doku, a young Kurdish woman who went missing on January 5, 2020, was removed by security from her sister’s graduation ceremony as she was about to make a statement, Turkish media reported.

Aygül Doku attended what would have been Doku’s graduation ceremony at eastern Turkey’s Tunceli Munzur University. The missing young woman’s friends insisted she say a few words about her sister.

“If Gülistan had been here, she also would have graduated, but they stole her future, her dreams,” Aygül Doku said. “I am here to collect Gülistan’s diploma, but she was supposed to wear her graduation robe and receive it herself. My sister has been in the dark for 888 days.”

Security personnel did not allow Aygül Doku to continue her speech, dragged her off the stage and pinned her to the ground. She was later removed from the area.

Other students protested the sister’s removal and got into a fight with the security personnel. During the struggle, Aygül Doku passed out, after which the students started shouting, “Where is Gülistan Doku?” The university staff tried to drown the students out by increasing the volume of the music.

Videos of Aygül Doku being pulled off the stage have been circulating on social media, sparking public outrage.

Rights group the Women’s Committee said they stood with Doku’s family and would never stop asking what happened to the young woman.

Gülistan 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 leading to the 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 on 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 fulfill its responsibilities.

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 reservoir.

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

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

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) rejected a request from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in February to establish a parliamentary commission to investigate the fate and whereabouts of the missing young woman.

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