American citizen Furkan Dogan was killed by Israeli forces as they raided the Mavi Marmara ship on May 31, 2010. (Photo via Associated Press)
It’s been three years since Furkan Dogan was killed on board the Mavi Marmara. His father, Ahmet Dogan, isn’t giving up his quest for accountability over his son’s death, and American human rights groups are now ramping up the pressure on the Obama administration. The U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation, in coalition with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), RootsAction and the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, has joined Ahmet Dogan’s push for a U.S. investigation into the death of the 18-year-old American.
The groups have started a petition drive which has already garnered nearly 14,000 signatures–4,000 more than their initial goal. They are set to deliver the petition to President Obama this month.
“We urge that the United States pursue justice and accountability for Furkan Dogan and all U.S. human rights defenders killed and injured by Israel,” the petition reads.
The petition drive was launched two weeks after the CCR authored a letter addressed to Obama that called on him to “publically acknowledge the killing of Furkan Doğan by Israel and support a U.S. investigation into his death.”
Dogan was part of the 2010 flotilla to Gaza that sought to break the blockade of the coastal territory. He was killed by Israeli naval commandos while he was filming the raid on the Mavi Marmara in what a United Nations Human Rights Council report called a “summary execution.” While the U.S. dismissed that report as biased, a separate UN report also stated that Furkan Doğan “was shot at extremely close range” and that “he may already have been lying wounded when the fatal shot was delivered.”
The activist push backs up the efforts of Dogan’s father, who recently joined Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on his trip to the U.S.; Turkish media outlet Hurriyet Daily News reported that Ahmet Dogan met with Secretary of State John Kerry on May 17. Dogan handed a letter to Kerry requesting that the U.S. initiate an investigation into the death of his son. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said that Kerry assured them he would deliver the letter to Obama.
The flotilla deaths also came up during a joint Obama-Erdogan press conference at the White House. “In the attack against Mavi Marmara, which was taking humanitarian aid to Gaza, Turkish citizens and one Turkish-American citizen were killed. And as you know, we are working with the Israeli government for compensation for those who lost their lives,” Erdogan said while Obama was standing next to him. But the president remained silent on the flotilla deaths.
Obama’s silence was no surprise, and indicates that a U.S. investigation into Furkan Dogan’s death remains a longshot, despite his father’s repeated requests. The U.S. was also silent on the death of Furkan Dogan in the immediate aftermath of the raid on the Mavi Marmara, and ignored Ahmet Dogan’s phone calls for three days. That information was revealed by the CCR earlier this year after obtaining government documents through Freedom of Information Act requests.
“The documents related to Furkan reveal that the U.S. has an unquestioning deference to the government of Israel, even when the life of an American teenager is at stake,” Jessica Lee, a lawyer working with the CCR on Furkan Dogan’s case, told Mondoweiss in February 2013. “Despite this barbaric murder…the U.S. declined to investigate and deferred to Israel.”
In one meeting detailed in the documents, a State Department official told Ahmet Dogan that “as a rule” the U.S. doesn’t launch investigations into the deaths of American citizens overseas. But in June 2010, a State Department spokesman did say that an U.S. investigation was an option.
There is no precedent for the U.S. investigating the deaths of one of its own citizens in the wake of an Israeli military action. The U.S. did not independently investigate the case of Rachel Corrie, who was killed in Gaza by an Israeli bulldozer, despite American disapproval over how the Israeli investigation was carried out.
The continued focus by U.S. activists on the deaths aboard the 2010 flotilla comes as Israeli-Turkish negotiations continue over compensation to the families of victims killed on the Mavi Marmara. Haaretz recently reported that the compensation talks had hit a snag over the amount Turkey wants Israel to pay.
The International Criminal Court also recently announced that it opened a preliminary inquiry into the flotilla deaths. The inquiry was sparked by a request from Comoros, the state where the Mavi Marmara was registered.