The dead terrorist's father publicly says that "more foreigners and Turks should be killed so that justice can prevail," and yet the police choose to do nothing.
It's been two years since nine people, including four Germans of Turkish origin, were massacred by a far-right terrorist in Hanau, Germany.
On February 19 2020, the 43-year-old Tobias Rathjen approached two locations, Midnight Shisha Bar and Arena Bar and Cafe, and shot dead nine people who were socialising with their friends. Rathjen later killed himself and his mother.
"My son called me on the night of the incident. He asked me to come to the cafe immediately because his uncle had been shot," Cetin Gultekin told TRT World.
Gultekin lost his brother in the terror attack.
"The police gathered families trying to reach their relatives. They made us wait until six in the morning. Then, they counted the names of the deceased, and my late brother Gokhan was also on that list," Gultekin added, saying that their lives have been devastated ever since.
Gultekin's father passed away 38 days after his brother Gokhan's death. The old man couldn't bear the loss of his son.
A few days after the terror attack, members of a far-right group were arrested in a nationwide investigation for planning coordinated attacks on politicians, asylum seekers and Muslims.
Six months prior to the Hanau incident, two people were killed by an armed far-right terrorist at a synagogue in Halle in eastern Germany. The subsequent Hanau massacre jolted the country from the slumber, reminding it of how deep the neo-Nazi venom had spread across the German society, with the spectres of its Nazi past starkly visible across the nation.
"What did the Germans say after Hitler and World War II? ‘Never again!’ But after about 85 years, we, foreigners, are still getting killed," Gultekin said.
According to 2019 data collected by Hanau municipality, the population of Hanau city is approximately 96,500, of which 15,375 are foreigners.
"And we can say that 40-45 percent are Muslims. It has given such a message that you are no longer safe even in your own home after the attack." Gultekin expressed.
‘Indefinite neglect’ for investigation
Asked if racism is prevalent in the city, he was quick to confirm that it was deeply entrenched in the society.
"There are a total of five memorial sites in Hanau city. You can see the pictures of the victims, but then, you can also see how some of those pictures have been defaced."
Gultekin explains how Fascist leader Adolf Hitler's pictures are sprayed on victims' pictures every two to three days. He once witnessed his own brother's picture with a Hitler moustache.
"But if we give up, they will win. If they tear them up, we will stick them. We are having a hard time here. Especially considering the authorities' indefinite neglect to investigate the attack."
According to Emis Gurbuz, who lost her son Sedat Gurbuz in the attack, the reason for this neglect is the systemic racism that has emboldened the far-right terrorists and their allies during the past 30 to 40 years.
"They don't care about these attacks. If a foreigner, a Turk, had carried out this attack, the state would have recognised it as a terror attack, but the investigation into this massacre (Hanau terror attack) was closed by saying that he (the perpetrator) was mentally ill," Gurbuz told TRT world, adding that he was not treated as a terrorist simply because he was seen as a native German.
Gurbuz said the German police are quick to react when they have to move against minority communities. But in the case of the Hanau attack, which happened two years ago, she said the police have yet to complete their investigation.
"They're just pretending. They have not taken any action. They simply don't care. Because the purpose is to scare foreigners and make us leave."
Ongoing threats and letters
The perpetrator of the Hanau terror attack's father, Hans-Gerd Rathjen, is now making open threats to the victims' families.
Hans-Gerd has sent several letters and petitions to police stations and courts, defending his son's terror act and promoting more violence against minorities.
"His letters and petitions say that his son is not actually the murderer, but he is actually the victim. He writes that more Turks and foreigners must be killed so that justice can prevail," Gultekin said.
Hans-Gerd's terrorist son had written similar letters prior to carrying out the deadly attack, showing immense hatred for minority communities, especially Muslims and Muslim Turks, and promoting violence against them.
His father has now carried the hate agenda forward, writing inciteful letters and even wishing death upon the mayor of Hanau city, Claus Kaminsky. Hans-Gerd wants the mayor to die because he let the victims' families put up the pictures of their dead children in the city. In another letter, he also asked the authorities to return the gun and ammunition seized from his son.
According to Gultekin, three months before the terror attack, the perpetrator had written letters and petitions to both the Hanau Prosecutor and the Federal Prosecutor's Office, revealing his criminal intentions as well as the plan of the attack.
Gultekin, Gurbuz and other victims' families question why these letters and petitions, written before and after the attack, were not taken seriously by the authorities. According to them, the terrorist's letters, in particular, were alarming enough for the law enforcement agencies to prevent the massacre.
"If he had mentioned killing Germans, we know that the Prosecutor's Office would have sent the police to his house within half an hour. However, since the people he wanted to kill were foreigners and Muslims, nothing was done," Gultekin said.
The common sentiment among the German minorities is that the people who carry a far-right mindset and Nazi-style hatred for minorities have penetrated deep into the country's institutions like the police, administration and judiciary.
The alleged collusion between the state and far-right groups have created an unsafe environment for minorities, which many say resembles the time before the Kristallnacht, a violent riot against Jews carried out by the Nazi Party's paramilitary troops along with civilians in 1938.
Social media has exacerbated the security crisis as open calls of genocide against German minorities are being made. The prevalent hatred against minorities has even found a political expression in the form of the far-right party AfD (Alternative for Germany), which was established in 2013. Since then, incidents of racism and hate crimes have increased across the country.
"If the necessary punishment had been given in previous racist attacks, we would not have experienced this two years ago. But now, we are worried which city will be the next target of another racist attack," Gultekin said.
Amidst the increasingly polarising climate of racism, where minority Germans feel socially and institutionally excluded, victims' families have decided not to back down from speaking out against the far-right groups and their agenda of hate and violence.
"We will keep reminding and speaking up until these attacks end," Gurbuz said.