Dec 09 2017

Mother-daughter killing highlights dangers of Turkish exile for dissidents

The murder of Syrian mother-daughter activists Halla and Orouba Barakat in Istanbul by a relative may well be more politically-motivated than it appears, the New York Times said, highlighting the grisly fates of other political exiles in the country.

The Barakats were found dead in their apartment by police who had been alerted by a neighbour, and distant cousin Ahmed Barakat later admitted the crime in court.

Orouba Barakat had been working on projects in support of the Syrian opposition to Assad, the newspaper said, and investigating extrajudicial killings in Assad’s prisons.

Her daughter Halla, meanwhile, worked as a journalist for Turkish state and Syrian opposition media.

The pair’s constant activism on behalf of victims of the regime and the Islamic State (ISIS) had led to many death threats, Orouba’s younger brother Maen Barakat said.

Maen, who told the paper that he knew the killer well, believed that the crime was committed for payment by a third party and was likely politically motivated.

If so, they were hardly the only victims of outside political forces assassinating dissidents in the country.

“Many Syrian dissidents, mostly high profile men, have been killed in Turkey,” academic Gökhan Bacık told the paper.

Chechens, Uzbeks and Iranians have also been the victims of political killings in Istanbul in recent years, the paper said.