A young correspondent for the pro-Kurdish newspaper Özgür Gündem in the southeastern city of Urfa, Nazım Babaoğlu disappeared without a trace on 12 March 1994 after volunteering to go to the small town of Siverek in response to a mysterious call to the newspaper. He had been expecting to report on the activities of “village guards,” pro-government militiamen who were notorious for their use of violence. He never came back. No credible investigation has ever been conducted in the 21 years since his disappearance.
Working for Özgür Gündem was extremely dangerous at the height of the fighting between government forces and PKK-led Kurdish rebels in the 1990s. Babaoğlu’s case is typical of the impunity that continues to reign for the mass crimes committed at that time, including the murders of a score of journalists. Although the details of the repressive methods used to combat the Kurdish national movement are now well known, justice has never materialized.
Impunity is now guaranteed by a 20-year statute of limitations on unsolved murders. But civil society organizations continue to campaign and keep his memory alive. In March 2015, for example, a demonstration was held in Istanbul to mark the 21st anniversary of his disappearance. On 30 August, Reporters Without Borders referred the case to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.