Elci was shot dead in Diyarbakır’s Sur district on Nov. 28 as gunmen rushed to the street, where Elci was holding a press conference to call for peace, after allegedly killing two police officers and wounding another.
It remains unclear who shot Elci.
Elci’s tearful wife, Turkan Elci, said during the funeral that her husband, a human rights activist as well as a lawyer, had dedicated his life to those who were murdered and whose perpetrators were never found.
“A huge crowd [of dead people], whose murderers have not yet been found, will welcome you. They will tell you they have known you from the beginning. You dedicated your whole life to unsolved murders,” said Turkan Elci in tears.
Diyarbakır Bar Association deputy head Ahmet Ozmen said any death was a matter of sorrow.
Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) Head Metin Feyzioglu called on all heads of bar associations in Turkey to come to Diyarbakır on Nov. 28 following Elci’s murder.
“This mean attack was not against our brother Tahir but against all of Turkey,” Feyzioglu said before departing for Diyarbakir on Nov. 28.
Feyzioglu also said they did not know who was behind the attack but that the target was Turkey.
“The target is our unity, our fraternity. For this reason we should all stand together as one against this attack,” he added.
But lawyer Eren Keskin, who was a friend of Elci’s as well as the co-chief editor of daily Ozgur Gundem, challenged the view that Turkey was targeted in the attack. “This attack was not committed against Turkey, it was personally directed at Kurdistan and the Kurdish people,” she said.
Among those who attended Elci’s funeral by a statue symbolizing the right to life at a park were Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtas, Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy head Sezgin Tanrikulu, several HDP deputies, Diyarbakır Co-Mayor Glutan Kisanak, the co-mayor of the southeastern province of Mardin, Ahmet Turk, and the district mayor of Istanbul’s Besiktas district, Murat Haznedar.
The Diyarbakır Bar said in a tweet on Nov. 28 that Elci’s death was an assassination.
Dogan News Agency quoted eyewitnesses as saying a bearded man fired at Elci, but it is still uncertain whether the bar chief was targeted.
Last month, a prosecutor demanded up to seven years and six months in jail for Elci on the grounds of “making propaganda of a terror organization,” after remarks he made regarding the PKK.
The Istanbul Bakirkoy Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office prepared the indictment after Elci said “the PKK is not a terror organization” during a live TV show on CNN Turk on Oct. 14. It demanded that he be jailed for between one year and six months and seven years and six months.
Elci was first detained by police in Diyarbakir late on Oct. 19 and was released on probation on Oct. 20, but he was barred from traveling out of Turkey.
“I stand behind my words and believe that they are true. The words I said cannot constitute a crime,” Elci said after being released on probation on Oct. 20.
Elci was not known to be a supporter of the PKK. “Forget about being a PKK member, he’s not even a sympathizer. He’s a man of peace,” Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtas said in the wake of his detention last month.