“On New Year’s Eve, my older sister called me and told me that she wished Gülistan had a tombstone in the New year. I was very saddened when she told me this. For a young girl, on New Year’s Eve, one would want happiness, peace, and health, but my older sister wanted a tombstone.”
Gülistan Doku, which on January 5, 2020, got lost in the city of Dersim (officially called Tunceli), northern Kurdistan( the eastern part of Turkey) is still missing. The activities for finding the student from Munzur University in the whole province did not yield results in the past year. At the same time, the investigation into the case, which authorities say is ongoing, remains stalled. Although the investigation into the disappearance of 21-year-old Gülistan is ongoing, her family and women’s rights defenders say the search is inadequate and omissions have been made.
“She was said to have committed suicide. We asked why she would have commit suicide? The former governor of Dersim province, constantly claimed that she had committed suicide and told us that he will hand over her body to us. Search activities in the reservoirs started from time to time, and then stopped again. If she committed suicide, then why are the search activities in the reservoirs stopped? If she had killed herself, they would have found her body after all this searching. The entire Munzur River was last searched by divers, but Gülistan was not found there.”
These words belong to Aygül Doku, who is looking for her sister since January 5, 2020. We spoke with Aygül Doku, who faced various difficulties while searching for her sister, including police detention, about what she and her family went through in the last year.
“Zaynal Abarokov knows where Gulistan is”
Aygül Doku, who says no effective investigation has been conducted since the day her sister Gülistan went missing, adds that the only person who knows where Gülistan is, is Zaynal Abarokov, the prime suspect in the case.
“The night before she disappeared, Gülistan met with Zaynal Abarokov, and an attempt was made to put her in a car, by using force. On the same day, a scandal broke out between them and the police intervened and took them to the police station. Zaynal’s father comes to the place. What happened in that apartment to lead to police intervention, we still do not know. During the night, Gülistan sent a message to Zaynal with the text “I’m afraid.” If I send you a message with the text “I’m afraid”, you will surely know what I’m afraid of. What Gülistan feared is still unknown. Or, for example, Zaynal told to a friend of Gülistan, “something very bad happened.” What was this bad thing that happened, is also unclear. Because the whole knot was tied that night.”
The videos show him arguing with her
Aygül Doku recalls that there is a video included in a report prepared by an expert, which shows that Gülistan Doku and Zaynal Abarokov do not speak in a normal way and a normal tone to each other. Aygül Doku also says:
“In the video, Zaynal goes against Gülistan and yells at her. Look, Zaynal knows very well where Gülistan is. If the authorities had focused on Zaynal instead of the suicide version, we would all know where Gülistan is today.”
The father of the prime suspect must be questioned
Aygül Doku says that since the day of Gülistan’s disappearance, they have not been able to make contact with Zaynal Abarokov, instead they have kept in touch with his stepfather, as he has stated that he has nothing to do with what happened, Doku continues. “In such a small town, a young girl disappears, and the father of the prime suspect makes statements like this. I think he should be questioned.”
We were not searching only for Gülistan, we were searching for conscience, humanity
Aygül Doku says that in the time when Gülistan was unknown, they never gave up searching for her, continuing her story with the following words:
“If I had lost something else, if I had lost everything I have, I would not have taken it so painfully. But what I have lost is a 21-year-old girl. How can one give it up? Yes, I am very tired. All this time I was not just searching for Gülistan, I was looking for a conscience, I was looking for justice, I was looking for humanity. There were times when I was looking for people to hear my voice, but I couldn’t find anything. “
With these words, she wants to say that the whole family is exhausted.
I was told that I must thank the governor
Aygül Doku said that after allegations that Gülistan had committed suicide, she often went to the place where the girl allegedly claimed her life. She says that each time, when she went to the bridge, the director of the local office of the Employment Agency, Özdemir Aytaç, and the employee of the provincial governor’s administration, Ferhat Güven, also came with her.
“During this period, campaigns for Gülistan were conducted on social networks every 10 days. These persons were very annoyed by the fact that Gülistan was on the people’s agenda. I was constantly told that I should stop making the case public and thank the provincial governor. They wanted no one to ask where Gülistan was. Whenever she was on people’s agenda, I was confronted with the hateful looks of these two persons. I didn’t experience my grief, I knew that one day I would seek my rights from everyone before justice. “
“I didn’t lose only my sister, I lost everything that I have.”
“Gülistan was a pure, young woman who had not to harm anyone. She was the youngest member of our family. But, look, I’m not just grieving for my sister. Gülistan was my best friend, I shared my innermost secrets with her, she was everything to me. When a person is in a difficult situation, he first turns to his closest ones, in such moments I was looking for Gülistan. Today, I lost not only my sister but everything that I have.
“We will not betray Gülistan”
“If we let this case be covered up just like that, it will be a betrayal of Gülistan, who has not hurt anyone in her life. We will not betray Gülistan. We will seek our rights until the end. Today, those who have harmed Gülistan are not calm, and those who have harmed me are not calm. Because they know very well that even if it is not today, but the truth has a very bad habit, and that is to finally come out. Justice also prevails, albeit late at times. I have no doubt about that. The only thing that keeps me going is the thought that the perpetrators will be brought to justice. “
“Her New Year’s wish was for her to have a tombstone”
Aygül Doku says she has received messages from many people and continues her story with the words:
“On New Year’s Eve, my older sister called me and told me that she wished Gülistan had a tombstone in the New year. I was very saddened when she told me this. For a young girl, on New Year’s Eve, one would want happiness, peace, and health, but my older sister wanted a tombstone. Because she knew we needed Gülistan. If we have at least one tombstone, we can say, “Here is her body.” Are they torturing Gülistan somewhere, isn’t she waiting for help from us somewhere. Living with these thoughts is a hard thing. Therefore, if she has at least a tombstone, we will have at least some consolation. Then the trial will be able to start, see now there is nothing we can do. “
We were left helpless in our own country
“I am very surprised. If I had been a representative of the authorities and a woman had been lost in my jurisdiction, and I had not been able to find her for a whole year, I would have thought very seriously about my work. A whole family, for a year, has already come to a situation were to beg the authorities. Why a family was left in such a helpless situation in their own country? How do you caress your children in the evening, when you come home when you have not been able to find this girl? If I were in their position, I wouldn’t be able to look my children in the eye. Either I would quit this job or I would find this girl. I want the authorities to answer the question of what happened to Gülistan. If they can not answer this question, let them think seriously while caressing their children. “
Authorities need to hear this voice
Aygül Doku recalled that protests for Gülistan took place in many parts of Turkey on January 5, demanding that authorities listen to the voices of protesters. Aygül Doku, he emphasizes, will not keep silent about this vote for Gülistan, ending the interview with the words:
“Today, Gülistan is also a source of hope for us. The fact that everyone takes part in the search for a missing 21-year-old young woman gives us hope. Every family thinks and says to themselves that tomorrow the same thing can happen to them that we are experiencing now. I want the authorities to answer this question, which is asked by so many people: Where is Gülistan Doku?”
Author: Seda Taşkın