Music teacher Şenay Aybüke Yalçın was fatally injured after being caught in the crossfire of an attack by the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) in Kozluk, Batman district, in southeast Turkey. She was travelling as a passenger in the back seat of a car along with three others at the time.
It is thought the terrorists were targeting a car belonging to local council leader Veysi Işık around midday on June 9. The official’s car was parked some twenty metres outside of his home with the council leader’s nephew, lawyer Muhammet Işık, sat inside. He was unhurt in the incident, although his uncle told media that the car had been sprayed with bullets, leaving over a dozen bullet holes.
Tragically, the gun shots hit a car carrying four civilians just as they were driving past. They included 22-year-old music teacher, known to friends as Aybüke, who was seriously injured and later died in hospital.
Security forces later tried to intercept the suspected militants when the same car was seen by a gendarmerie station. Police ordered the driver to stop their vehicle as it approached the entrance, but instead the militant blew up their explosive-laden vehicle, instantly killing himself and wounding two soldiers and a civilian in the process. One of the soldiers later succumbed to his injuries. An investigation has been launched to find the other terrorist involved in the earlier gun attack.
News of Aybüke’s death plunged Turkey into mourning. From Çorum, near the capital Ankara, she had celebrated her appointment as a music teacher at Kozluk High School on Facebook last October, writing “I have become a teacher”. She had recently graduated from the Faculty of Arts at Nevşehir University and worked for a time at Konya Necmettin Erbakan University.
Şenay Aybüke Yalçın 8th teacher to be killed by PKK in Batman
Batman had been 18th on Aybüke’s list of locations to teach in Turkey and she died seven months after taking up her post in the volatile district that has been plagued by terror attacks. According to a report in national daily Hürriyet, eight teachers have been slain by the PKK since 1980: Fevzi Ateş (28 May 1980), Hüseyin Aydemir (12 March 1988), Ali Rıza Pekgöz (10 June 1993), Erkan Özcan (29 April 1994), Sıtkı Abdioğlu (17 May 1994), Adnan Tunca (23 September 1994), and Mustafa Gümüş (23 September 1994), and Şenay Aybüke Yalçın (9 June 2017).
Before her death Aybüke posted a video of her singing a beautifully haunting türkü (Turkish Blues) called Mağusa Limanı (Mağusa Harbour), which includes the lyrics “The person who kills me is without religion or faith.” The inauspicious clip has since gone viral, many lamenting the death of such a talented and beautiful young woman who had everything to live for, while cursing her murderers.
“She was full of smiles. Everybody loved her.”
Her Kozluk teaching colleague İzzet Gündoğdu, who was driving the car on that fateful day, told new TV channel Habertürk that Aybüke was the youngest teacher at their school.
“She was full of smiles. Everybody loved her. The school didn’t have a music room. Pupils didn’t even know the names of the musical instruments. With the support of the school and (Education) ministry, she created a music room. She brought instruments. She was an idealist teacher.”
Gündoğdu added, “After issuing end-of-year reports, there were seminars and on Friday she was due to go back to her home town. We are still in shock; it is not easy for any of us. Whatever it takes to end terrorism, it needs to be done.”
The murdered teacher was laid to rest in her home town of Çorum on Sunday. The funeral was attended by many dignitaries, including Education Minister İsmet Yılmaz and local MPs, along with friends and neighbours who tried to comfort Aybüke’s father Sadık, mother Zehra, 18 year-old brother Atıf Aybars, and grandparents. A Turkish flag and Aybüke’s favoured red Turkic headdress were draped over her coffin. May she forever rest in peace.