Another “Murderer Unknown” Case? Grieved Chaldean Diril family steadfast in media campaign to find missing Hurmüz Diril

MAHRE/HAKKARI/ŞIRNAK, Turkey — Hurmüz Diril (71) has been missing from his village Mahre since 11 January 2020. The lifeless and mutilated body of his wife, Shmuni (65), was found near a stream in their village on 20 May. The case of the Chaldean couple hence has raised many concerns and questions as to why the Dirils were kidnapped in January and who murdered Shmuni Diril. According to our information, so far no autopsy report has yet been released since the finding of Shmuni Diril on 20 May.

There is much consternation and anger among the Diril children about the way in which Turkish authorities have attached little importance to the Chaldean couple’s disappearance and their unwillingness even now to investigate in depth. They feel abandoned by local authorities and left to search for their father on their own. “We were never taken seriously,” said one of the Diril sisters.

Background: The case of Shmuni and Hirmiz Diril has more questions than answers

The Diril children fear the worst but have not given up the search for their father and the perpetrators who murdered their mother. Through a month’s long media campaign and online petition, the sons, daughters, and nephew of Hurmüz and Shmuni Diril have tried to convince Turkish authorities to conduct a full investigation. Nephew George Diril pursues a Twitter campaign under the hashtag #HurmüzDirilNerede and tweets almost daily with calls to authorities to conduct a full investigation. “Dear minister, where is the necessary urgency in finding my uncle who is missing / kidnapped from Kovankaya village, Şirnak (Beytüşşebap), and from whom we haven’t heard for 170 days?”

Gülcan Diril, daughter of the missing couple, said in one of her tweets, “We are tired of begging! We are tired of waiting in desperation! We are ashamed to write too much, but you don’t have a bit of shame. Not even a blush.” In another tweet, Gülcan Diril refers to the term “faili meçhul” or “murderer / perpetrator unknown”, a term used in Turkey referencing the many unsolved murder cases, especially in the second half of the 1980s and throughout the 1990s. According to a report by the European Syriac Union, there were 45 of such Syriac unsolved murder cases between 1987 and 1998.

“While we put the name of our father in writing and language, and while we tell about his love for his country and homeland, you have labelled the murder ‘perpetrator unknown’, and I will tell of your cruelty and the eye you have closed on this cruelty for my entire life, and the ground you have prepared for this to happen!”

Several Syriac and human rights organizations have paid attention to the case of the Diril couple and continue to follow the case. Facebook group for Syriac activists and intellectuals “Platform Turabdin” issued a statement in April under the telling title “We Are Not Prey” in which it states that since 1915, the hunting season on Christians in Turkey is opened from time to time, and that the authorities in this case, as in many similar cases, have neglected to investigate the case thoroughly. Platform Tur Abdin says that it is essential that the relevant authorities carry out a comprehensive search and investigation and that, in the process, the public should be informed in a transparent manner.

Syriac Member of Turkish Parliament for the Democratic People’s Party (HDP) Tuma Çelik has followed the case from the beginning and visited the area several times to bring public and governmental attention to the case. In early April, MP Çelik raised the case in Turkish parliament demanding urgent action and a full and comprehensive search.