Due to the reopening of the case of Festus Okey last week, Pelin Çakir summarizes and comments on the murder and its contexts for HarekAct
by Pelin Çakır
Festus Okey, was born in 1975, in the Abia state of Nigeria, one of eleven children born to a farming couple. His brother Tochukwu migrated to South Africa to support his family in their poverty, but told Festus that conditions were very bad there, leading Festus to come to Istanbul instead in 2005. He worked in temporary jobs and played football with amateur teams in the so-called African league of Istanbul, a league which gives hope to many African young men to be discovered by the agents of professional football teams and therefore become a reputed player. His friends were calling him Okute. By coincidence, he appeared in an independent documentary which reported on the league, firstly recorded while running in the field, then unexpectedly during his funeral (how his murder was initially acknowledged by the press).
It wasn’t easy to escape the police’s ‘attention’ as a black man in Istanbul. The first time he was arrested by police for being undocumented, and kept for several months in Kumkapı detention center until he managed to file an asylum application to the UNHCR. On the early evening of 20 August 2007, Festus Okey and his friend Mamina Oga were stopped by an undercover police officer in the central Beyoğlu area of Istanbul. The police officer later described how they were apprehended with the following words “black persons and citizens from the East draw more attention with respect to narcotics”. Continue reading Festus Okey: a long road to justice