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Dead activists' 'martyr' hopes

Jun 2, 2010
ANKARA - THREE of the four Turks killed in an Israeli raid on aid ships bound for the Gaza Strip were devout Muslims who wanted to be 'martyrs,' relatives and friends were quoted as saying on Wednesday.


The names of the victims have not been officially released, but the media identified them on Wednesday as four men, all involved in Islamic movements or charities.

One of them, Ali Haydar Bengi was described as a 39-year-old father of four who studied at Egypt's Al-Azhar University, a prominent centre of Islamic learning, and ran a telephone repair shop in Diyarbakir, in Turkey's mainly Kurdish south-east. Bengi 'was helping the poor and the oppressed. For years, he wanted to go to Palestine. And he constantly prayed to become a martyr,' Bengi's wife, Saniye, told the Vatan daily. 'Before embarking on the journey, he said he desired to become a martyr. He wanted to be a martyr very much,' Bengi's friend, Sabir Ceylan, told the Milliyet newspaper.

Another victim, Ali Ekber Yaratilmis, 55, was described as an Ankara-based retired worker and father of five, who was a volunteer for the Foundation of Humanitarian Relief (IHH), the Turkish Islamist charity that spearheaded the campaign to break the blockade of Gaza. 'He devoted his life to charity work... That's why he boarded the ship. He always wanted to be a martyr,' the Sabah daily quoted a friend, Mehmet Faruk Cevher, as saying.

The third victim, retired engineer Ibrahim Bilgen, 61, was a father of six and a supporter of the Islamist Felicity Party in the south-eastern city of Siirt, Anatolia news agency reported. 'He was an exemplary man, an exemplary philanthropist. That's why martyrdom suited him very much. Allah gave him a death he desired,' Bilgen's brother-in-law, Nuri Mergen, told Anatolia.

Vatan identified the forth victim as IHH volunteer Muharrem Kocak. Most of Monday's bloodshed occurred on a Turkish-flagged ship, the Mavi Marmara, carrying hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists from about 30 countries, mostly Turks. The Israeli army said the commandos resorted to force after they were attacked with sticks and stabbed as soon as they landed on the deck. -- AFP

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