Trying to talk about Tahir Elçi | Orhan Kemal Cengiz

Photograph: Emrah Gurel/AP

Orhan Kemal Cengiz
Lawyer, human rights activist

Trying to talk about someone like Tahir Elçi, we all turn into blind people attempting to describe an elephant, as the saying goes in Turkish. We talk about the aspect of Tahir we know. Trying to delineate our knowledge of him with words will fall short, and we know that he transcends by far, the sentences which we choose to describe him. Thus, I can only depict a Tahir that I was able to touch and see.

For me, Tahir meant wisdom and conscience. No doubt he was extremely intelligent; but that intelligence was governed and directed by a very strong conscience. He could never stay cool or distant when he saw suffering, and he would do his damnedest to stop that agony. He was extremely intelligent and he used his profession, his knowledge as a lawyer in the most effective fashion, in the direction that his conscience pointed.

Amid impossibilities, he was one of those, who never lost his hope; and hence for all of us he was the spring for all variety of positive expectations. And thus, when someone like that, a man with infinite possibilities for hope is assassinated, those who left behind turn into jelly; they lose their breath and the twinkle in their eye. That is precisely why man like Tahir are killed.

When individuals like Tahir die, they can never be replaced, they leave behind a spot that will forever remain empty. You know that, that abys can never be filled, but you are also aware that you must pass on that precious heritage and not lose hope. That is why the load of having known Tahir is so, so very heavy.