Thousands of Kurds Protest Over Government Inaction on Mass Graves

ISTANBUL (Hurriyet Daily News)–Thousands of Kurds marched Wednesday in eastern Turkey to protest the government’s silence on mass graves uncovered in the area last month.

Hundreds of vehicles were used to transport people from the surrounding provinces of Van, Diyarbakır, Muş, Batman and Siirt to Bitlis’ Mutki district, where the demonstration was taking place.

The march was organized by the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and the Mesopotamia Association for Assistance to Families with Lost Relatives (MEYA-DER) and supported by several similar organizations and associations.

The crowd, numbering in the thousands, gathered in Bitlis and then moved on to Mutki, where 12 skeletons were uncovered on January 5, and eight more found January 20, all near a dump site used by the local gendarmerie station.

“The discovery of the mass graves would be on the top of the agenda had it occurred in any other country in the world,” said BDP co-leader Gülten Kışanak. “No one should expect Kurds to trust the state unless light is shed on the mass graves and unsolved murders in Turkey.”

“If the Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] will not reveal these [guilty parties], he is a partner in the crime of Ergenekon,” Kışanak said at the march. “The traces of Ergenekon are here. So where is the prime minister?”

Ergenekon is an alleged ultranationalist, shadowy organization accused of planning to topple the government by staging a coup, initially by spreading chaos and mayhem. It is believed that Ergenekon is responsible for thousands of unsolved murders in Southeast Turkey. But the ongoing Ergenekon case only deals with the alleged coup attempt.

Meanwhile, the deputy leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), released a written statement Wednesday claiming that Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has blocked efforts to uncover the truth about the unsolved murders.

“One of the most fundamental elements of our country attaining peace, democracy and enlightenment and solving the Kurdish problem is to shed light on the unsolved murders and the missing [people],” deputy CHP leader Sezgin Tanrıkulu wrote in his statement. He added that the AKP has rejected several resolutions on unsolved murders that the CHP has introduced in Parliament.

“The AKP’s [Kurdish] initiative is buried in the mass grave,” he said.

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