Journalist Nuh Koklu had been playing snow fight with his friends on the evening of February 18 in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district when he was going back home from Homeland Security Bill sit-in that ended earlier at Kadıköy’s ‘Bull Square’. The area is known for its relaxed atmosphere and peaceful neighborhood except for police’s violent attacks on peaceful protests. During the snow fight, according to the Turkish media, a snowball hit a shop window, which caused the shopkeeper’s anger.
Angry shopkeeper got furious over a snowball, went out to attack the youngsters playing in the street. As the spice seller realized that the club is not effective in beating youngsters, and when he was outnumbered and pushed back in his attack, he went inside his shop, grabbed a knife running after the young people. One from the group fell on the ground, shopkeeper attacked, Nuh went in to protect his friend. The shopkeeper stabbed Nuh Koklu’s heart repeatedly.
Nuh was taken to a hospital nearby but he had died. The shopkeeper is also taken to a hospital. The witnesses say the shopowner had shouted “go tell the police, I have enough reports for psychological state… They would have to release me before you know it anyways!” The reports killer shopowner refers to are the ones cited in Turkish Penal Code’s article 46.
President Erdoğan’s Rhetoric Had an Effect?
This incident took place not long after Turkish President Erdoğan’s notorious comments regarding the legality of violence applied by shopkeepers. At a speech he gave at the union of shopowners, Erdoğan had said “shopowners of this country are protectors of honor, peace and stability on streets, they are the soldiers, guardians, police of streets; when the moment comes they suppress coup attempts.” These remarks had drawn reaction by many people in Turkey, especially from the supporters of protest movements who still felt the grief and anger for over a dozen killed protesters.
Erdoğan’s speech came not long after the trial of murderers of Ali İsmail Korkmaz, who was beaten to death by police and shopkeepers during Occupy Gezi protests. Rhetoric adopted by government members seems to have a much greater impact on society when it comes to justification of violence and legitimacy of monopoly over violence.
Nuh Koklu had been part of unions and a leading figure in some strikes. Although he had been an unemployed journalist lately -like thousands of others- he has been informing his audience as an independent reporter. The last ever tweet he shared read “paranoid governments’ biggest fear is a people united; it is time of a univocal reaction to all kinds of troubles now.” According to his friends, Nuh’s last words were “Please let this be a dream!”