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Remembering Omer Turanlı: A Tireless Advocate for Justice

Sometimes, out of fear of receiving bad news, you don’t want to look at messages or answer your phone when it rings, thinking, “Could it be…?” While trying to act as if nothing is wrong, a pervasive anxiety grips you: “Could that dreaded news have arrived?”

Last night was exactly like that for me. At dawn, seeing the numerous messages on my phone, I was overwhelmed with worry. I tried to console myself by glancing at them, but when I saw a missed call, my fear intensified. Then, seeing the message “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un” (Indeed, to Allah we belong and to Him we shall return), my knees buckled, and I collapsed where I stood, crying uncontrollably.

Even though we know that death is a reality and a beginning rather than an end, losing a beloved friend leaves us unable to contain our grief. Unfortunately, this morning, a good friend, a true companion, and a sincere comrade, Ömer Turanlı, passed away. I don’t say “we lost him,” because I don’t believe we lost him and I don’t want to believe we did.

I first saw him during the ‘Tahşiye’ trials. With his firm voice and confident stance, he inspired courage in his police clients and instilled confidence in his fellow lawyers. Later, we attended trials together in other cases, and through this, we got to know each other. Even from a distance, one could tell he was a special person, but it became even more apparent when we sat down and conversed.

During the trials, he would bring together the defense lawyers to make their defenses more effective. The week before July 15, we attended the ‘Tahşiye’ trial hearings. To unwind and evaluate the hearings, he invited all the lawyers, including me, to his home, but it wasn’t meant to be. After that, events unfolded in ways no one could have predicted.

Like many others, Ömer had to leave his country, his beloved Istanbul, his homeland, his family, and his loved ones. His crime was practicing law and fighting to defend his clients’ rights. Regardless of the accusations against him or what was said, he made it his duty to protect the rights of the oppressed and the wronged.

He never succumbed to hopelessness and always spread hope to those around him. Anyone who spoke with him would find their pessimism dissipate. He clearly conveyed the message, “There’s no reason to be hopeless. Let’s do our part properly and save the oppressed!”

I’m not sure if I ever upset him, but he never upset me. Whenever I said, “Ömer hocam, we need to do this,” he would always respond, “Of course!” Just explaining the task to him was enough; there was no need to worry about the rest. He never turned anyone away. He would say, “Tell me what needs to be done, and don’t worry about the rest!”

He called me ‘Emmo,’ and wanted me to call him ‘Emmo’ too. He didn’t like formality; sincerity was more important to him. He encouraged and motivated those around him to be sincere. In his presence, formality would automatically give way to sincerity.

Ömer Turanlı

He was full of life; his zest for life was so strong that seeing him, you would think death didn’t exist. On the other hand, his devotion to Allah was so profound that you would be amazed at the strength of his belief in the hereafter.

His illness was diagnosed very recently. After the surgery, the doctors were pessimistic, and we couldn’t accept it. I visited Ömer recently; we hugged tightly and walked together a bit. Listening to him, I thought he had gone to the other world and was describing everything to me firsthand.

“I am very peaceful. Seeing and hearing the prayers of those who pray for me makes me thank my Lord endlessly,” he said with such sincerity that it deeply moved me. When we said goodbye, I expressed my wish to meet again soon after his treatment, and in a way that showed his level of faith, he said, “God willing, if it is meant to be.”

There is much more to say about Ömer, but I couldn’t write more through my tears.

To honor the memory of Lawyer Ömer Turanlı, it is our duty to continue his belief in the struggle for justice, his sincerity, and his sacrifice. In his memory, we will continue to help the oppressed, to defend justice and rights. May his soul rest in peace, may his place be in heaven.

We will never forget you, Emmo!

We will always be proud to have been your friends.

Do not forget us either, EMMO…

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Nurullah Albayrak is lawyer and columnist at TR724.com

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