For Cengiz Songur 37

This afternoon I visited the family of Cengiz Songur. Cengiz died, age 47, when he was shot in the chest from point blank range by an Israeli soldier on board the Mavi Marmara. Cengiz was unarmed. he had never been armed in his life.

Cengiz lived in a small but clean apartment, occupying the middle floor of a three floor tenement, in the suburbs of Izmir, Turkey. He is still a tangible presence in his small living room, as I drink the tea and nibble the cake his daughters have prepared. His books still line the bookshelves. There is a Koran and some collections of the Hadith, and a few books on Islamic culture. But there are also encyclopaedias, atlases and – most of all – scores of well-thumbed novels. Cengiz loved to read.

He also loved to help people. He had been involved in a number of charitable enterprises his whole adult life. I should make plain that I came into his world not entirely as a stranger – my Turkish friends were friends of his, and I know that as a group they have been involved in charitable work in places as disparate as London and Somalia, Haiti and Sierra Leone, to name but a few.

Cengiz had a little textiles shop. He had six daughters and just one son. The ladies of his household wear a colourful headscarf, covering the hair but none of the face, and are not segregated. A religious family, but not in any way that is unusual in Izmir. Cengiz’ brother and cousin have also come to meet me, and they are very friendly. They know who I am and thank me for my work in Uzbekistan.

Life now is something of a struggle; Cengiz’ business did alright, in a small way. But now he is gone, and although the extended family are rallying around, six is a large number of daughters. I am astonished to learn that, despite the governmental show of nationalistic outrage at the Israeli killings, the family have not received a penny by way of compensation, award or pension. Attempts to start a legal case have been buried in the legal system. They tell me that twice the courts have “Lost the papers”. From their point of view, the Turkish government is desperate to forget the matter and get relations with Israel back to normal. There is, they tell me, a “small Israel” in Turkey which is able to control the key organs of the state.

In this regard, they told me something which seems to shed light on a loose end which had been bothering me. The attack on the Mavi Marmara occurred in international waters. In that case, the jurisdiction over any crimes committed on board is held by the flag state, ie the state in which the ship is registered. Shortly before sailing, the registration was switched from Turkey to the Comoros Islands. This exempted Turkey from the responsibility of jurisdiction. It also made discussion at NATO much easier for the US; if the Israelis had attacked in international waters a ship flying the flag of a NATO state, that would have been a much more difficult thing for the alliance to ignore.

It turns out that the change was made at the insistence of the Turkish Ministry of Transport. They carried out a number of inspections of the Mavi Marmara prior to the Gaza trip and made repeated demands for changes: mattresses and cushions had to have more modern, fire resistant foam. Internal walls had to be upgraded for fire resistance. Whatever changes were then made, the Ministry found new faults. In the end, the Ministry had said that the Mavi Marmara would be impounded unless it changed its registration, as it could not meet the safety requirements for a Turkish flagged ship.

The strange thing is that the Mavi Marmara had been Turkish flagged for years, and hade been running tourist cruises out of Istanbul. None of the faults the Ministry found resulted from any changes, yet none had apparently been a problem on past inspections. The family told me that, before the Mavi Marmara sailed, they had been in no doubt the Turkish government had been deliberately obstructive and had forced the change of flag. But they had no idea of its significance. Indeed they still did not understand why it could be important, something I tried to explain to them. Of course, set beside their personal loss, it did not seem that interesting.

None of the family had even the slightest thought that Cengiz was risking his life in going. He had told his son that he thought they would not get in to Gaza. He had expected the ship to be impounded. He also thought that he himself would be imprisoned. But the thinking was that, after a month or so, international pressure on Israel would build until the prisoners were released, and Israel would be shamed into sending the cargo on to Gaza.

Cengiz was a kind family man, trying to do some good in the world. He did not deserve to be murdered. I do hope those readers who follow a religion will pray for him.

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37 thoughts on “For Cengiz Songur

  • Guest

    "I do hope those readers who follow a religion will pray for him."

    There is no need for those "who follow a religion" to pray for Cengiz. We must pray for those who murdered Cengiz.

  • Jon

    Craig, excellent post, thank you – this is a wonderful humanisation of a victim of this appalling crime. Though the temperature of rage and lunacy sky-rockets on both sides, Israel has the much greater opportunity to kill civilians, and a much greater leeway in international law to get away with the same. We should remember that there are a good few Israelis that speak out against this senselessness, and hope that their number increase with time.

  • tony_opmoc

    I see censorship has now been introduced to this website

    You Fucking TWATS

    Go Fuck Yourself


    • Craig_Murray


      For some technical reason I don't understand, comment moderation has to be on until Intense Debate – that is the name of the programme – has finished loading up all the old comments from the old site. There are 57,000 of those and it seems only to process about 500 a day at the minute, getting slower as it goes on. It has loaded 46,300 at the minute.

      Comment moderation will be turned off as soon as Tim tells me it can be.

      • YugoStiglitz


        Have you noticed that the number of nuts attracted to your site? Besides me and Suhayl and angrysoba, all you can count on is Nazi Jew hatred.

        What a pathetic life you keep pursuing.

        My prediction is that your paranoid hatred of Jews will lead to Holocaust denial and blaming 911 on the Jews – just like all your commenters.

        Btw I've decided to inform your African connections of your hatred of the Jews. They deserve to know that.

        Any German company that does business with you should know that you run a website that blames the Jews for 911.

        • Craig_Murray


          You are plainly nuts. I have never ever advocated either "Holocaust denial and blaming 911 on the Jews" and I think both positions are ridiculous. The only person who regularly posts links to such views on this website is you.

        • dreoilin

          "What a pathetic life you keep pursuing."

          That's funny that is. Projection, Larry/Yugo, projection.
          You couldn't hold a candle to Craig, and you know it.

          Thank you for the post, Craig. It's lovely to read about a person's life, family, and activities. Something we so rarely get to do about victims of USA/Israeli aggression and brutality.
          RIP Cengiz Songur

  • spectral

    Turkey foreign politics is difficult to decipher. They want to be (sort of) independent, yet in NATO. It seems to me they have split personality problem. The crisis over the Libya is case in point of Turkey foreign policy.

    I do not know what to say on this. I've seen enough of violence and horror for three life, still this is deeply moving. The evil which emanate from Zionist settler-state is The Unspeakable. Not sure, but the world have not seen such small country and that much of evil that persist.

  • somebody

    Second, an international flotilla made up of some 20 vessels carrying hundreds of activists from two dozen countries is set to sail in late May in an attempt to break the siege of Gaza. The timing of the flotilla will coincide with last year’s May 31 assault on another Gaza-bound flotilla, in which Israeli commandos killed nine human rights activists.

    Israeli officials are concerned about the attention that such convoys bring to their siege of Gaza, and they have already begun a campaign to demonize the effort to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza’s residents.

    On April 1, Netanyahu appealed to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to “prove” the UN’s commitment to human rights and international law by stopping the flotilla, which he described as a conglomerate of “extreme Islamists that are interested only in provocation.”

  • lwtc247

    Craig. whether you meant it or not (or deliberately meant other people to pick up on) Turkey's actions could well be in line with those who knew the ship would be attacked, hence did what it could to get that flag changed. Given the abysmal response from the Turkish govt after the mass murder up to the present day and the fact it's legal system seems to be deliberately frustrating a legal case and there has been NO change in Turkish/Israyhelli relations. This thinking isn't beyond the pale by any means.

    • Germanicus

      Yes, this information on the re-flagging of the ship is very interesting – thank for it Craig!

      it does seem that the Turkish govt at least considered the possibility that the ship would be attacked as it was, so their Captain Renault impression was perhaps a bit disingeneous.

      BTW I know I'm a few weeks late, but since Craig is an expert on maritime law, if he has the time I'd be interested to hear his opinions on the 'arms ship' allegedly found and towed to Israel by the IDF in March.

    • ingo

      Thank you very much for this moving news of the Cengiz family, Carig, not to speak of the Turkish Governments complicity in this murderous piracy. They must have known and cooperated with Israel and there have been links between these two countries since Israel was created. I have worked wityh Gastarbeiters from Turkey in Hamburg, they told me that part of their wages was docked by the local 'baba' at home, that he was a good man and made sure that their families are 'safe' while they work away.
      Turkey is a twitter state, by that I mean that organised crime is institutionalised in all its executive arms, whether its the police, the MIT, Turkeys secret service, or the governing party.
      Israel's criminal underworld, Mossad and Shin beth have had links with the grey wolcves, the rightwing organised crime/political syndicate, but also with the Kurdish PKK who's members are also actively involved in every sort of smuggling you can imagine, powerfull Kurdish heroin syndicates have established the European markets, so did the grey wolfs.

      • ingo

        These institutionalised political as well as criminal opponents have engrained Turkish society with a hardman ethos that loosk after its people, NOT, only to further their own criminal interests.

        Let us argue for protection vessels accompanying the flotilla in May, as long as they are in international waters, Israel should not dare do anything to further sully its blodstained coat. I shall say a prayer for this family man and I hope that his family will not receive any reprisals from the Turkish authorities via Yugo's vile efforts here, keep in touch with them.

        • Germanicus


          I wouldn't go so far as to say that Turkey 'cooperated' with Israel in their piracy, just that they probably realised that it was a possibility and had the ship re-flagged as a kind of loophole to ensure Turkey's soverenity was not infrienged by the raid, as it would have been had this been a Turkish flagged vessel. A technicality, of course, but a crucial one. I agree that their response was all talk and little action. I also agree that any future flotillas should be escorted by protection vessels, but let's face it, what nation would have the balls to do that?

  • Frazer

    And they will attack the next convoy as well, and probably get away with it …..maybe Craig, you might think of joining the convoy in a blaze of publicity ….they might think twice about it then…I may even come along for the ride ..

        • ingo

          can I come, please, apart from cooking and baking, i'm able to cope with at least a couple of dick swinging IDFdenialists, always wanted to get back to sea, even if its just for once.

          far more important, always wanted to meet Frazer for a wee dram or three. Don't think Nadira will be convinced by your offer of help….

          • Frazer

            If he decides to go, I will go as well and brink a wee bottle of the good stuff !

          • somebody

            Frazer, you will need some of the hard stuff when you are left for dead in a boa that had been thrice rammed by the Israeli Navy 50 miles off the Gaza shore in the dead of night in a choppy Mediterranean sea. The fact that Britons were on board had no effect on the FCO who did and said NOTHING. Also the fact that Cynthia McKinney was one of the passengers, a previous US Presidential candidate, made no difference to the Israelis. -My brother wrote it up –

            Piracy off the Promised Land: The Ramming of the Dignity with Clear Lethal Intent

  • YugoStiglitz


    Why didn't you ask his family why their family member decided to get in bed with Ken O'Keefe?

    I hardly think your new friend Cengiz was unarmed.

    You are a friend of Ken O'Keefe, just like this asshole who got in the middle of a legitimate exercise of self-defense.

    Did the Jews do 911? Perhaps your new friends believe that.

    • dreoilin

      Self defense? That's a laugh. You want to tell us how you justify using that expression? Eh?

      Oh, I forgot, Larry/Yugo. You like asking questions, but not answering them. Typical troll behaviour. Just as your constant repetition of "Jews" and never "Israelis" or "Zionists" is typical troll behaviour also. I have never seen "Jews" as a group criticized by anyone on this site. And I read somewhere recently that over 60% of Israeli citizens are atheists. You want to comment on that? Thought not …

    • mark_golding

      No! YugoStiglitz – Jews did not 'do' 911 – We learn recently however that the decision to trial the 'mastermind' of 911 in a civilian court has been reversed – This is of course all about torture. Obama knows the defense will say the defendant was tortured- even introducing into evidence Bush's book in which he admits ordering the torture.

      That's too much for Obama. He believes laws apply only to little people, not presidents. Nothing frightens Obama more than the idea that someone might suggest that his predecessor committed crimes against humanity – a suggestion made as the whole world watches this important trial.

      And once you're in a civilian court, you lose all control of the message. Obama's ability to manipulate and contain the torture issue would be lost.

      • YugoStiglitz

        You're incredibly ignorant. KSM bragged about having done 911, long before he was picked up by the U.S.

        I don't know why you say "Nothing frightens Obama more than …" You understand there will be another election soon, right? If Obama could prove the Republicans did 911, couldn't that help him out in the next election, and in the budget battle and everything else?

        Do you think Obama is part of the cabal that did 911?

  • R2D2

    The UNHRC report with a long title ("Report of the international fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, resulting from the Israeli attacks on the flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian assistance") is worth reading:

    Especially the section ("Deaths of flotilla participants") which provides details on how the killings/executions took place.

    Ken O'Keefe is a man of great bravery, integrity, and peace. Respect.

    Yugo, is trolling your full time job – and how much does it pay? If you could put me in touch with your employer, I'm thinking of writing a "bot" which I believe can spout garbage at a cheaper rate than they pay to you – and hence save them some money.

    • evgueni

      I think he does mean it from the heart? The alternative explanation would be that our masters cannot afford a more intelligent and subtle operative! I suppose another alternative explanation is that the intention is to bring down the tone, unilaterally. Whatever, best not to take the bait.

      • R2D2

        Best not to feed the troll. It has nothing to contribute in terms of debate – the intention being purely one of vandalism.

    • YugoStiglitz

      Ken O'Keefe is a disturbing person; even his fellow misguided "activists" think he's a nut.

      But I encourage you to keep putting him in front of your cause.

      Someone who thinks that the Jews did 911 should absolutely be in charge of this Gaza thing. You're showing your true colors here.

  • Imran Siddiq

    Hi Craig,
    another piece of information that might be useful for you would be that the bureaucratic structure of turkey is quite diverse. I was informed by few Turkish intellectuals that the difficulties that Mavi Marmara had before sail were due to left wing bureaucrats that consider good relations with Israel a must and thus caused all those problems. IHH in frustration changed the flag of the ship, their requests were not forwarded by lower staff to the government officials because lower staff is mostly full of CHP voters and government is with AKP who are prime rivals parties in the politics.

  • somebody

    From medialens –

    Another Israeli minister threatens war on Gaza
    Posted by JMC on April 7, 2011, 2:41 am

    That makes three now in recent days.

    The latest:
    Aharonovich threatens new war on Gaza 6Apr11

    And an earlier one reporting both Israel's deputy prime minister, Silvan Shalom, and culture minister, Limor Livnat referring to a return to Cast Lead type actions or a need for a Cast Lead 2.

  • YugoStiglitz

    You made this statement: "Cengiz was unarmed. he had never been armed in his life." What's you evidence for that?

    Plenty of people were armed on that boat. You entertain the notion that this fellow was not armed, because you really need to believe that he was not armed. Because you hate Jews.

    I don't have a ridiculous 911 obsession. The vast majority of your commenters believe that 911 was done by the Jews or the Bush family or some combination thereof. That you can't admit to that makes you delusional.

Comments are closed.