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Turkish PM raises Mavi Marmara at White House press conf, calls grow for Obama to investigate killing of Furkan Doğan

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Yesterday, President Obama held a joint press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Although the focus was on Syria, and the myriad scandals overtaking the White House in the past week, Israel/Palestine came up as well. Here Erdoğan discusses his upcoming trip to Gaza and the ongoing negotiation over reparations for the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara (at 12:20 in the video above):

With respect to the Middle East peace process, we discussed with the President this important issue, which is very important for regional peace. 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. And the visit that I will pay to Gaza will contribute to the peace in Gaza and to unity in Palestine, in my opinion.

The Center for Constitutional Rights timed yesterday’s visit with the release of a letter to Obama urging an U.S. investigation into the killing of 18-year-old U.S. citizen Furkan Doğan on the Mavi Marmara.

The letter signed by CCR’s Executive Director Vince Warren reads (PDF):

Dear President Obama,

In recent months, you have commendably offered condolences to families who have lost their children to gun violence. However, one family has been excluded from your offers of sympathy for the past three years: that of Furkan Doğan, an 18 year old American citizen, killed in May 2010, when he was shot five times at close range during the Israeli attack on the Gaza-bound flotilla in international waters. On the occasion of the visit of Prime Minister Erdoğan to the United States, and his mention today at your joint press conference of the flotilla attack and killings, we call upon you to finally publically acknowledge the killing of Furkan Doğan by Israel and support a U.S. investigation into his death.

Like many other young Americans, Furkan had high ambitions for his future and was deeply concerned for the suffering of others, especially children. In 2010, the summer before he planned to start medical school, Furkan asked his parents for permission to participate in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza in an effort to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians due to the Israeli blockade of Gaza. His parents, proud of their son’s conviction, reluctantly allowed him to make the journey, never imagining the violence that he would encounter and believing that the U.S. would protect him if anything were to happen. On May 31, 2010, however, Israeli commandos attacked the flotilla and shot Furkan four times from behind and once in his face. According to forensic analysis, the wound to Furkan’s face was from a bullet shot at point blank range and was compatible with the shot being received while he was lying on his back on the ground.

Despite this disturbing evidence, the U.S. has yet to launch an investigation into Furkan’s death. Indeed, records released as a result of CCR’s litigation of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests reveal the U.S. government’s position that it would not investigate Furkan’s death. Disturbingly, the government’s own internal documents show that it engaged in diplomatic efforts with particular attention to preventing a fully independent, credible investigation into the attack that cost the life of a U.S. citizen, and eight other civilians. Instead, the U.S. effectively deferred to Israel‘s investigation, which exonerated all of the Israeli soldiers involved in the attack and failed to provide any details regarding Furkan’s killing. Moreover, despite the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC)’s report concluding that Furkan’s death amounted to extra-legal summary execution, the U.S. has never acknowledged these specific findings, let alone pursued accountability for Furkan’s death; instead the U.S. opposed the HRC resolution welcoming the report.

Recently, the Israeli government apologized to Turkey, acknowledging “a number of operational mistakes” that might have led to the loss of life or injury. Despite these admissions, the U.S. still has not publically called upon Israel to provide any detailed information on Furkan’s death or made any public call for accountability regarding his killing. The silence from the U.S. in relation to the killing of its citizen and eight other civilians effectively results in impunity. Furthermore, it sends a message that the government will tolerate the killing of U.S. human rights defenders by Israel.

CCR calls upon you to publically acknowledge the killing of Furkan Doğan by Israel and support genuine accountability for the attack on the Free Gaza Flotilla that took Furkan’s life and the lives of eight others. Specifically, we call for a U.S. investigation into Furkan’s killing.

(h/t Josh Ruebner)

Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Executive Editor of

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10 Responses

  1. lysias on May 17, 2013, 10:08 am

    I see no article on this press conference in today’s Washington Post. (There is a photo of Obama speaking under an umbrella together with a brief explanation that it was taken during an Obama-Erdogan press conference, but there’s no article, as far as I can see.)

    Isn’t that something, considering that it was at that press conference that Obama commented on his administration’s various current scandals? You would think that would make it supremely newsworthy.

    • Darcha on May 18, 2013, 3:25 am

      That press conference also featured Obama pushing for greater efforts against the insufficiently chemical Assad. Since Assad is so frustratingly not playing along, Obama had to pivot. The money quote was that even without chemicals, all the bombing, shelling and rocketing done by Assad certainly demands an international response. Assad’s not even using willie pete, and it demands world attention!

    • joemowrey on May 18, 2013, 10:04 am

      A very illuminating graphic, which can be seen at the following link explains why we can no longer expect “newsworthy” to be a reason for information to be made available to us by our corporate media. Six corporations control 90 of what we are told. The illusion that we live in a democracy with a “free” press is just that, an illusion.

      Another example of this is the article at Common Dreams recently pointing out that even though 97% of the scientific community understands that climate change is caused by humans, only 42% of Americans have a clue. (It’s actually pretty amazing that the figure is that high. A very encouraging statistic, really.) Our diet of information is strictly controlled. We are the most ignorant and misinformed nation on the planet. People really have been convinced that the sun rises in the west and sets in the east. It makes having a rational conversation with the vast majority of Americans nearly impossible.

  2. Erasmus on May 17, 2013, 11:12 am

    Excellent letter.
    Something the POTUS has to do some serious thinking about.
    1) Will he react in the way the letter expects from him ???
    2) Or prefer to kow-tow before the mighty Israel Firsters – as he done so far?
    Any bets?

  3. Justpassingby on May 17, 2013, 1:03 pm

    Please, Erdogan just trying get popular in the arab world again, he condemns Israel but then establishing stronger ties in secret.
    He has no credibility left.

    • Walid on May 17, 2013, 4:01 pm

      It depends which parts of the Arab world you are talking about. In those that are in the US camp, which comprise the majority of Arabs, they are easily swayed by Erdogan’s warming moves towards Israel because they too are leaning in that same general direction that’s promoted by the US. Those in the remaining few that are not, are with you that he has no credibility left but not many really care what these think.

  4. Citizen on May 17, 2013, 2:08 pm

    Zero coverage by the US mainstream media. Americans remain ignorant. S.O.P.

  5. yourstruly on May 17, 2013, 2:15 pm

    As far as the U.S. is concerned Americans aren’t worth much if they happen to be in a country that’s either hostile to or independent of the U.S, unless, that is, they’re there for the purpose of subverting the government of such a country. Contrast, for example, the uproar from our State Department when Brian Gross (an American who received a 15 year prison sentence for crimes against the state) with the Department’s almost complete disinterest in Israel’s murder of Furkan Dogan. Had he been assassinated by soldiers in, say, Russia, there’d have been calls from Congress for the severance of diplomatic relations with that nation, but since the Zionist entity is purportedly America’s best friend, barely a whisper of regret. Same story when American internationalists were killed in Nicaragua during the eighties by U.S. supported Contras in Nicaragua – “Hey, they knew what they were getting into”, or words to that effect. I wonder if our government is thinking, “If only we could get rid of dissidents as easily here in America”.

  6. IL1948 on May 17, 2013, 3:49 pm

    This is emblematic of why a “peace agreement” with the arab world is a farce.

    With Obama breathing down his neck and coercing him, Bibi just made amends with this twerp by apologizing when it was Erdogan who should have apologized. A few short weeks later, he’s already starting trouble again.

  7. Blank State on May 17, 2013, 10:23 pm

    What a waste of time this letter was. Obama is a subservient worm, who has repeatedly demonstrated that he lacks any physical attachments that even vaguely resemble testicles.

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