Racist attacks on Kurds in western Turkey

Information note by our Foreign Affairs Co-spokespersons Feleknas Uca and Hişyar Özsoy:

The incessant smear campaigns of the Turkish government, aimed at criminalizing the HDP, are resulting in violent and even fatal physical attacks against Kurds living in the western provinces of Turkey. On 17 June 2021, an assailant with a shotgun attacked our office in İzmir and tortured and murdered Deniz Poyraz, the daughter of a party employee. On 14 July 2021, another assailant with a shotgun attacked our office in the Marmaris district of Muğla and fired more than 100 bullets.

And this current week has seen a series of racist attacks against Kurds in western Turkey:

On 19 July, seven people, including two women, were injured in a racist attack on Kurdish seasonal agricultural workers in the western province of Afyon. The incident occurred after two workers were kept waiting at a barber’s shop although their turn had come. When İsmail Tan (18) and his cousin Ali Tan (22) objected, they were accused of being “terrorists” and speaking Kurdish. The incident escalated after they notified their families, who came to the barber’s shop. Seven of their family were injured with sticks. After the incident, a squad of gendarmerie officials and riot police were sent to the town where the Kurdish families were staying, and they were asked to return to their hometowns.

On 20 July, a fight broke out between two families in the Altındağ district of Ankara. Four people from a Kurdish family who came from Mardin were injured in the attack, which was carried out by a family from Kırıkkale. A member of the Kurdish family explained that the family from Kırıkkale had insulted and attacked them. He stated, “At least 150 people attacked us. Four of them fired their guns against us. Four of my brothers were injured. They were full of hatred. It wouldn’t be enough for them to kill all Kurds.”

On 21 July, Hakim Dal, aged 43, was shot dead in an attack against a Kurdish family in the Meram district of the Central Anatolian province of Konya. Around sixty people attacked the family, shooting at the car they were in. The family, who were originally from Diyarbakir, had been living in Konya’s Meram district for twenty years. The incident happened after an argument that had started while shepherds were pasturing their animals, which was used as an excuse for the attack. In the words of a member of the attacked family, “They didn’t want us [here] because we are Kurds. They would tell us, ‘You’ll sell these lands and leave'”. On 12 July, another Kurdish family had been attacked by the same group of villagers in Meram. Seven members of the family, including women, had been injured in that attack.

These racist attacks are the result of criminalization policies carried out by the AKP-MHP coalition against Kurds and the HDP. The government’s incendiary use of language, the discriminatory practices of the authorities, and the way security forces turn a blind eye combine to form the major reasons behind these racist attacks. If the government does not stop its criminalizing smear campaigns and incessant hate speech against the HDP and against the Kurds in general, and if they fail to effectively prosecute the perpetrators, many more bloody attacks are likely to happen. While the violence was carried out by civilians, the political responsibility for these attacks rests firmly with the government.

More articles on the topic:

Racist attack kills a Kurdish citizen in Konya province

HDP blames government for racist attack on Kurdish seasonal workers

Another armed attack on the HDP; this time in Marmaris district of Muğla

HDP: Regarding Armed Attack Against the HDP Izmir Provincial Building