Victims' relatives say too little has been done to shed light on the attack and ensure that such atrocities will not be repeated, a year after a deadly shooting in two cafes.

A commemoration ceremony for Gokhan Gultekin, one of the victims of the racist terrorist attack in Hanau, Germany, was held in his hometown of Agri, on February 19, 2021.
A commemoration ceremony for Gokhan Gultekin, one of the victims of the racist terrorist attack in Hanau, Germany, was held in his hometown of Agri, on February 19, 2021. (AA)

Turkey has commemorated the victims of an attack by a far-right extremist in Hanau, Germany last year that claimed nine lives.

“We remember our citizens and other victims who lost their lives in a racist attack last year in Germany’s Hanau city. We share the pain of grieved families,” the Foreign Ministry said in a written statement on Friday.

“In order to show our solidarity with the victims of racism and xenophobia, our Deputy [Foreign] Minister Yavuz Selim Kiran will attend the commemoration ceremony to be held in Hanau,” it said, adding that he will also meet the families of victims and Turkish citizens.

“We expect this attack to be clarified in all aspects and the investigation to be concluded swiftly and fairly,” the ministry urged.

It also said a lesson should be derived from the incident and great importance should be attached to prevent racism and xenophobia, which threaten social peace and security.

“We invite all European countries to protect the principles of peace and coexistence by not remaining silent in the face of this threat,” the ministry said.

It reiterated that Turkey will continue bilateral and international cooperation to fight such separatist movements.

Germany has witnessed growing racism and xenophobia in recent years, fueled by the propaganda of far-right and anti-Muslim groups.

In 2019, right-wing extremists killed a pro-refugee politician in Kassel and attacked a synagogue in Halle, raising alarms over far-right terror in the country.

In February 2020, a far-right extremist stormed two cafes in Hanau and shot nine people with migrant backgrounds dead.

READ MORE: Anti-Muslim terror attacks in Germany were a long time in the making

Victim families unsatisfied 

A year after the deadly shootings at a shisha bar and a cafe, victims' relatives say too little has been done to shed light on the attack and ensure that such atrocities will not be repeated.

Gunman Tobias Rathjen, 43, finished his killing spree on February 19, 2020 by turning the gun on his mother and himself, leaving behind a 24-page "manifesto" of right-wing extremist views and conspiracy theories.

The investigation into what happened is still ongoing, with many questions unanswered and little is known about the attacker.

Edgar Franke, the government commissioner for the victims of terrorism, pleaded this week for closure for the victims' friends and families.

"There can be no public criminal trial against a dead attacker in which the victims can ask questions. This makes it all the more important to fully clarify the background," he tweeted.

Relatives of the victims have lately focused their attentions on Rathjen's father, who they believe was partly responsible for the crime.

They have filed a 16-page criminal complaint against the 73-year-old for being an accessory to murder, according to a report in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

They believe he had a controlling relationship with his son, knew about plans for the attack and encouraged it.

The families have also criticised the police response on the night of the attack, complaining the emergency number was busy and they could not get through.

They also believe the emergency exit of the bar at the second crime scene had been locked on police orders.

So far, a total of 42 family members of the victims have received about $1.5 million (1.2 million euros) in compensation from the federal government, with more potentially in the pipeline, according to the Ministry of Justice.

READ MORE: After the terror attacks in Germany, are we still safe?

Cavusoglu calls for action

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu shared a video message on Twitter and remembered the victims.

In the video with German subtitles, Cavusoglu said over 900 anti-Muslim attacks occurred in Germany last year alone.

"As the Foreign Ministry, we have launched a new initiative. We will announce activities and discourses including Islamophobia, xenophobia, and racism as a report to the whole world each year," Cavusoglu said, noting that such incidents increased during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We are clearly saying that these attacks must end now," he said.

Cavusoglu added that covering up the attacks in the case of the National Socialist Underground (NSU), a far-right terror group, and lightening the sentences are unacceptable.

The NSU terror group has killed 10 people, including eight Turks, between 2000 and 2007.

Until 2011 – when the German public first heard about the group following a bank robbery – German police and intelligence services ruled out any far-right motive for the murders. Instead, they treated immigrant families as suspects in the case, also harassing them for alleged connections with mafia groups and drug traffickers.

The NSU's only known surviving member Beate Zschaepe was sentenced to life in prison in 2018 by a Munich court after a five-year-long trial.

"It is of great importance to conclude the probe into the Hanau attack fairly and swiftly. Otherwise, this diseased mindset will threaten not only Muslims and foreigners but everyone," Cavusoglu said.

"Europe should not become captive to populist, racist and anti-migrant discourse," he warned.

Recalling German Chancellor Angela Merkel's remarks of "racism is a poison, hatred is a poison," Cavusoglu said the antidote of that poison is in politicians' hands with common sense.

The issue can only be solved with cooperation and decisive steps, he said and reiterated that Turkey always stands with its citizens living abroad.

Among the nearly 4.7 million Muslims in Germany, some 3 million are of Turkish origin.

Since 1989, at least 184 people have been killed in Germany by neo-Nazi groups, with more than 50 of the victims being members of the Turkish community, AA says. 

READ MORE: Jail terms for neo-Nazi 'terror group' in Germany

Source: TRTWorld and agencies