Memorial statue of Abdi ?pekçi
|Born||9 August 1929|
|Died||1 February 1979 (aged 49)|
|Education||Galatasaray High School|
|Sibel ?pekçi (née Dilber) |
|Relatives||?smail Cem (cousin)|
Abdi ?pekçi (9 August 1929 – 1 February 1979) was a Turkish journalist, intellectual and an activist for human rights. He was murdered while editor-in-chief of one of the main Turkish daily newspapers Milliyet which then had a centre-left political stance.
?pekçi was born in Istanbul, Turkey to a prominent Donme family of Salonican origin. After finishing high school at Galatasaray High School in 1948, he attended law school at Istanbul University for a while. He started his professional career as a sports reporter for the newspaper Yeni Sabah, and transferred later to Yeni ?stanbul. In 1954, he joined the newspaper Milliyet as its publishing manager, and was promoted to editor-in-chief in 1959.
A respected journalist, he was a proponent of the separation of religion and state, and an advocate of dialogue and conciliation with Greece, as well as of human rights for various minorities in Turkey. ?pekçi favored left-leaning causes and groups outside of the main secularist, center-leftist and Kemalist Republican People's Party. Known internationally as a political moderate, he continuously criticized the political extremism that fueled the violent polarization at the time of the 1971 Turkish military memorandum.
On 1 February 1979, two members of the ultra-nationalist Grey Wolves, Oral Çelik and Mehmet Ali A?ca (who later shot Pope John Paul II), murdered Abdi ?pekçi in his car on the way back home from his office in front of his apartment building in Istanbul. A?ca was caught due to an informant and was sentenced to life in prison. After serving six months in a military prison in Istanbul, A?ca escaped with the help of military officers and the Grey Wolves, fleeing first to Iran and then to Bulgaria, which was then a base of operation for the Turkish mafia.
According to reporter Lucy Komisar, Mehmet Ali A?ca had worked with Abdullah Çatl? in this 1979 murder, who "then reportedly helped organize A?ca's escape from the prison, and some have suggested Çatl? was even involved in the Pope's assassination attempt". A?ca later became famous for his failed assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II on May 13, 1981. According to Reuters, A?ca had "escaped with suspected help from sympathizers in the security services".
Writer Çetin Altan said a journalist colleague who was a former admiral intelligence officer of the chiefs of staff, Sezai Orkunt, had informed him that the clandestine Counter-Guerrilla murdered ?pekçi at the behest of the CIA's station chief in Turkey. ?pekçi had learned that the counter-guerrilla were inducting civilians into a clandestine anti-communist organization without the knowledge of the Turkish chief of staff. He knew that the counter-guerrilla were subordinate to the CIA, whose station chief at the time was Paul Henze. ?pekçi thus asked Henze to stop the CIA's illegal activities. Other sources also name Henze as the instigator.
Abdi ?pekçi was interred at the Zincirlikuyu Cemetery. He is survived by his wife Sibel, daughter Nükhet and son Sedat.
The street on which he lived and was murdered was renamed Abdi ?pekçi Avenue. On 1 February 2000, a statue erected by the Municipality of ?i?li near the place where he was murdered was unveiled in his commemoration. It was designed by the architect Erhan özen, and the 3.5 m high bronze sculpture created by Gürdal Duyar stands on a 0.70 m high granite base. The memorial depicts ?pekçi's bust held by one male and one female student with a dove atop symbolizing peace.
The Ipekci Peace and Friendship Prize was established in 1981 to honor people who improved the relations between Greece and Turkey. The award is presented every two years on a rotational basis in Athens and Istanbul. Recipients have included the photographer Nikos Economopoulos.
Sonraki y?llarda yazar Çetin Altan, 1979'da öldürülen Milliyet gazetesi ba?yazar? Abdi ?pekçi olay?n?n bir Kontrgerilla i?i oldu?u iddias?n? ortaya att?. Altan, 'Bana bunu Genelkurmay ?stihbarat?nda çalm olan Amiral Sezai Orkunt söyledi. Abdi, baz? sivillere Kontrgerilla e?itimi verildi?ini ö?renmi? ve Ankara'ya gidip bunu CIA Ankara ?stasyon ?efi ile konu?mu?.' dedi.