BY RUPEN JANBAZIAN
From The Armenian Weekly
DIYARBAKIR (A.W.)—In a Sept. 8 press release, the Kurdish National Congress (KNK) said that coordinated mob attacks and lynchings on Sept. 6-8 targeted hundreds of Kurdish civilians in Western Turkey, injuring many and killing some. According to the KNK, the Turkish police participated in some of the attacks against the civilians, who have sought safety in the offices of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP).
“The mobs are organizing themselves across social media, forming groups and attacking homes known to belong to Kurdish families,” read a part of the KNK statement, which claims that attacks on Kurdish homes, civilians, and neighborhoods are still ongoing and that hundreds of thousands of Kurds are currently in direct danger.
Over the past few days, there have also been several attacks on the HDP headquarters across Turkey, according to the KNK. “Attacks on 128 HDP offices have occurred with HDP signs and slogans ripped off and replaced with the Turkish flag. Other offices have been set on fire.”
The KNK has called on the international community to urge Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to “end its violent, racist, and divisive policies” in light of the coordinated attacks.
Demirtas: We are facing a lynching campaign
HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas accused the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of orchestrating the mob attacks and of forcing the country into a civil war, reported the BBC.
“We [Kurds] are facing a campaign of lynching,” said Demirtas, who accused both President Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of taking “the decision to start this war and intensify it.”
Speaking to reporters on Sept. 8, Demirtas said the ruling regime had manufactured the crisis after losing their majority in the June general election. “We want to stop young people dying and let the public decide the future at the ballot box,” he was quoted as saying by Today’s Zaman.
Garo Paylan, one of three Armenian Members of Parliament in Turkey and an outspoken critic of the ruling regime, said that authorities stood idly by as his party’s (HDP) offices were attacked. “Police are just watching…what’s being broken there is our hope of living together,” Paylan told the BBC.
Diyarbakir’s Surp Giragos Armenian Church Suffers Minor Damages
One source from Diyarbakir (Dikranagerd) described the situation as an ongoing war in the city. Speaking to the Armenian Weekly, the source explained how due to the imposed curfew and ongoing violence, residents were forced to remain in their workplaces and homes for days.
Meanwhile, Diyarbakir’s Surp Giragos Armenian Church suffered minor damages during clashes between Turkish authorities and Kurdish rebels on Sept. 7, reported Turkey’s Demokrat Haber. Surp Giragos, the largest Armenian church in the Middle East, was left with broken windows and damaged walls as a result of an explosion and gunfire.
Speaking to the Armenian Weekly, Raffi Bedrosyan, one of the organizers of the Surp Giragos Diyarbakir Church Reconstruction Project and a member of the Surp Giragos Armenian Foundation, said that plans to resume Armenian-language classes in September have been postponed indefinitely.
“We were planning on conducting Armenian-language classes in September in Dersim and Diyarbakir,” explained Bedrosyan. “Even though there are no teachers, I had made arrangements for online courses for free. But right now everything is on hold because no one wants to go outside,” he said.
There has been constant unrest throughout Turkey after a suicide bombing on July 21 in Suruc targeted members of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP) Youth Wing and the Socialist Youth Associations Federation (SGDF). The young activists were giving a press statement on the reconstruction of Kobane, Syria, when the bombing took place.
Four days following the Suruc attack, two Turkish police officers were killed by the PKK’s military wing, which claimed the officers had collaborated with ISIS in the Suruc bombing. Since then, more than 100 Turkish police and military officers have died in attacks throughout the country, according to several pro-government Turkish news outlets.
On Aug. 9, Abdullah Demirbaş, the former mayor of the Sur municipality in Diyarbakir, was arrested by Turkish authorities in Diyarbakir. Demirbaş has been an advocate for the rights of minorities in Turkey, and was active in the reconstruction of the Surp Giragos Church. On the occasion of the re-opening of the church, he addressed the Armenians who had gathered there: “Welcome, my brothers and sisters… We are very glad to see you in your own country, your own city.”
On Aug. 18, reports surfaced that the pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP) had declared self-governance in the districts of Sur and Silvan in the province of Diyarbakir. The following day, the co-mayors of the two districts—Sur co-mayors Seyid Narin and Fatma Barut, and Silvan co-mayors Yuksel Bodakci and Meliksah Teke—as well as Democratic Regions Party (DBP) representative Ali Riza Cicek were detained by police.