Experts: Taking neo-Nazi murders to international platforms could help
Analysts believe that taking the issue of neo-Nazi murders to international platforms would help immigrants in Germany gain considerable protection against xenophobia and Islamophobia, which appear to be on the rise in recent years.

"Taking the issue to international platforms would certainly help immigrants, Turkish and Muslim, obtain substantial [legal] gains," Ayhan Kaya, director of the European Institute at Bilgi University in İstanbul, said.

Turkey sought the possibility of taking the lawsuits filed by family members of the victims to international courts as parallel lawsuits, but seeing it is not technically possible, has advised the families of the eight Turkish victims of neo-Nazi murders in Germany to also take the murders to international platforms, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), among others, to ensure that the murders also remain under the watch of the international community.

"Such a step would pave the way for some favorable court practices [precedents] to be formed in international law, while constantly keeping Islamophobia on the international agenda like anti-Semitism," Kaya told Sunday's Zaman. In an effort to help families of the Turkish victims on a legal basis, Turkey asked, through Turkey's permanent representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), for the appointment of Mehmet Daimagüler, lawyer for the family of victim Abdurrahim Özüdoğru, from Ambassador Adil Akhmetov, OSCE chairperson's personal representative on Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims.

A total of 10 people, eight of whom were Turkish immigrants, were killed in Germany, between 2000 and 2007, in what has come to be known as the "döner murders," which remained unsolved until last year when a terrorist neo-Nazi ring was accidentally discovered to be behind the killings. The case was a scandal in Germany because the investigation also revealed links between Germany's federal intelligence service and the neo-Nazi gang.

German Federal Interior Minister Hans Peter Friedrich, speaking on the German TV program "Günther Jauch" recently, said the federal prosecutor's office plans to file complaints against numerous people who have been found to have links to the murders, adding that he believes justice will be served when all parties to the murders are made to take responsibility for their roles.

Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a lawyer specializing in human rights lawsuits and a columnist for Today's Zaman, also believes taking the issue to international platforms would help immigrants in Germany in a considerable way, noting that Islamophobia and xenophobia are a major problem in Europe.

In fact, in the past 15 years, the European identity seems to have become more and more conservative, with racist discourse having gained in strength. But Turkey also faces similar problems in regards to minorities, with the Armenian identity sometimes being insulted, and the killing of a number of Christians living in Turkey, one of them being Hrant Dink, the Armenian editor-in-chief of an İstanbul-based Armenian newspaper. Drawing attention to this fact, "Turkey and Germany should work together against Islamophobia and xenophobia," Cengiz told Sunday's Zaman, also adding that Turkey should engage in self-criticism regarding discrimination against minorities in the country.

Kaya agrees. Arguing that the European identity, which in the past formed its shape around an anti-Semitic ideology, does the same today through what he calls "Islamophobiaism." "Turkey should present the issue in this historical context," he stated. "However, when doing this, Turkey needs to keep itself clean of such crimes as much as possible."

Members of the Turkish Parliament's Human Rights Investigation Commission got together in the past week with Sebastian Edathy, chairman of the German parliamentary commission established to investigate the neo-Nazi murders in Germany, to discuss how Turkey and Germany can cooperate in combating racist attacks against Turkish citizens in Germany. Edathy also reported on the progress of the investigation into the neo-Nazi killings to Turkish parliamentarians.

The commission in the German parliament has come halfway in its investigation, and plans to issue, in the summer of 2013, its final report on the neo-Nazi killings. The question the commission is now set to tackle is whether the state institutions in Germany had prior information about the killings. "We don't have any proof of that at the moment," Edathy said. No concrete evidence has been presented as to whether state officials were implicated in the crimes by providing support to the National Socialist Underground (NSU) terrorists. The trial of one member of the terrorist group -- the other two members have committed suicide -- is expected to begin in Munich on Jan. 14, 2013. People who are believed to have aided and abetted the terrorist group are also to be tried in the case.

Turkish parliamentarians may also pay a visit to Germany next year in order to follow up on the investigation and neo-Nazi murder trial. "This would send the message that the Turkish Parliament is following the issue closely," Tunca Toskay, who was among a group of Turkish members of Parliament who visited German authorities in May of this year about the killings, told Sunday's Zaman.

The activities of the neo-Nazi NSU only came to light last November when two suspected founders, Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos, were found dead following an apparent murder-suicide as police closed in on them after a bank robbery. A third alleged core member, Beate Zschäpe, turned herself in. The string of killings of small business owners, including a florist, a tailor and fast-food stall owners, went unsolved for years, with authorities suspecting organized crime rather than politically motivated violence as the cause. (Cihan/Sundays Zaman) CİHAN
Last Modified: 2012-11-18 16:00:01
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