Umut Gündüz was 19 when he was killed by a drunk car driver while riding his bicycle.
On July 15th, 2020, Umut was riding on the right lane of the road in Ankara, as traffic law requires in Turkey. The car driver who was driving over the speed limit and was intoxicated hit him from behind and did not stop. The police report says the car driver is 100% guilty and Umut was obeying all the rules including having the necessary lightning, helmet. The car driver was apprehended because his license plate fell after the murder.
The legal alcohol limit while driving is 0.5 promil for a private car driver and 0.2 promil for a public car driver in Turkey. The car driver who killed Umut had 1.53 promil.
The grieving family of Umut created social media accounts and looking for justice and trying to raise awareness. They would like to be the last people who suffer this, so they believe the adequate punishment should be meted out to stop similar incidents.
Many cycling organisations held events to support the family… A few politicians made announcements at the parliament pointing to the danger on the roads… The Metropolitan Municipality of Ankara named the cycle lane which they started building after Umut Gündüz…
Umut`s family joined the 56th Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey with banners so they could attract the attention of the media. The billboards of the Tour were full of slogans like `The bicycle is a vehicle` and `Spot the bicycle in the traffic` Unfortunately officials did not support them and they were taken into the custody by the Gendarmerie.
The car driver was released after 4 months and now he is free… The court sued the car driver for killing someone by negligence (taksirle ölüme neden olmak) but Umut`s family asking for him to be charged with first degree murder (kasten adam öldürme) and they started a protest in front of the Ministry of Justice on May 19th, 2021 which is also The Commemoration of Atatütk, Youth and Sports Day. To be on trial for killing someone by negligence ‘taksirle ölüme neden olmak’ means the killer can have receive a sentence of 6 years at most!
Since the 19th of May, every Wednesday they are in front of the Ministry of Justice.
In Turkey, the laws are not disincentive. As we see in Umut`s case and many other cases including femicide and child abuse…
After 11 months from the murder, on June 24th, 2021, the first hearing in court will be held in Ankara. Cycling organisations from different cities in will be present. You can help by making this as widely known as possible, because this concerns all of us road users, be we pedestrians, cyclists or motorists.
Social media accounts:
#umutasesol (speak for Umut)
#bisikletliyaşamiçinadalet (justice for cyclists)
#kazadegilcinayet (murder not accident)
Here you can find the video by Cyclist Türkiye. In the video you will see how Umut`s father, Menderes Gündüz, and mother, Asuman Gündüz are looking for justice not just for their child, but for all children. It is in Turkish and you do not need to know Turkish to understand the love and the sorrow.
Hasan Berk Baysal
Meril Çiğdem Durmuş
Mustafa Onur Karaca
Christian Jean Auguste Niaffe
Kaan Şahin Şenol