DHKP/C Resurfaces in Türkiye: The Çağlayan Courthouse Incident

DHKP/C Resurfaces in Türkiye: The Çağlayan Courthouse Incident
Photo by mb-bn via Pixabay, 2022


Andrej Confalonieri

Middle East and Human Rights Researcher

Global Human Rights Defence

About ten days after the January 28th, 2024 attack in Istanbul’s Church of Santa Maria, another attack occurred in the same city on February 6th, this time at the Çağlayan Courthouse. [1] The courthouse, also known as the Istanbul Justice Palace, is a massive and heavily guarded court complex in the Kagithane district. [2] It was Europe’s largest courthouse at the time of its opening in 2011, and it is not the first time it has been targeted. Notably, in March 2015, the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP/C), a far-left organisation designated as a terrorist group by Türkiye, the United States, and the European Union, took a public prosecutor hostage, leading to a deadly confrontation with the police. [3]

On February 6th, two individuals launched an attack on the Çağlayan Courthouse, resulting in an exchange of gunfire that left both assailants dead. The attack also claimed the life of a civilian woman and left three police officers and two civilians wounded. [4] The assailants reportedly targeted a security checkpoint at the courthouse before engaging in a shootout with security forces. They were confronted in the courthouse’s forecourt, where they appeared to shoot at police before being shot by the police. [5]

Turkish Minister of Internal Affairs Ali Yerlikaya identified the attackers as alleged members of the DHKP/C, which has been relatively inactive in recent years. This incident marks a resurgence of their activities, which date back to the 1980s. [6] Turkish authorities have labelled the attack a “terrorist act”. [7] The attackers also had a history of serving jail terms for offences related to terrorism. [8] Interestingly, the sister of one of the attackers reportedly appeared at the courthouse as a defendant just half an hour after the attack, facing charges related to membership in a terrorist organisation and possessing dangerous materials. [9] 

Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into the incident, and Minister of Justice Yılmaz Tunç declared that 34 individuals have been detained. [10] He also notified the public about the good condition of the three police officers wounded during the attack. [11]

Sources and further reading

[1] See Andrew Wilks, Mehmet Guzel, ‘3 people killed in alleged extremist attack at Turkey’s largest courthouse’ (AP News, 06 February 2024) <3 people killed in alleged extremist attack at Turkey's largest courthouse | AP News> accessed 08 February 2024. See also Al Jazeera, ‘One person killed in attack on Istanbul courthouse’ (Al Jazeera, 06 February 2024) <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/2/6/two-shooters-dead-in-turkey-courthouse-attack> accessed 08 February 2024.   

[2] Wilks, Guzel (n 1).

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Al Jazeera (n 1).

[7] Ibid.

[8] Wilks, Guzel (n 1).

[9] Ibid.

[10] Reuters, ‘Turkey detains 34 people after attack at Istanbul court’ (Reuters, 06 February 2024) <https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/five-wounded-shooting-front-istanbul-courthouse-shooters-killed-minister-2024-02-06/> accessed 09 February 2024. 

[11] Ibid.