- Title: Syria offensive feeds disenchantment among Turkey's Kurds
- Date: 23rd October 2019
- Summary: DIYARBAKIR, TURKEY (OCTOBER 14, 2019) (REUTERS) RIOT POLICE PUSHING WITH SHIELDS
- Embargoed: 6th November 2019 12:39
- Keywords: Turkey Kurds Syria Turkish offensive Kurdish disenchantment
- Location: DIYARBAKIR, ANKARA, TURKEY
- City: DIYARBAKIR, ANKARA, TURKEY
- Country: Turkey
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,Military Conflicts
- Reuters ID: LVA003B2BHWZR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Kurdish lawmaker Musa Farisogullari says he has been targeted by water cannon, tear gas and blows from riot shields while trying to protest this month against Turkey's military offensive in northeast Syria.
The incursion, targeting the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, has deepened a sense of alienation among people in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast, which is being further fueled by a crackdown on the country's main pro-Kurdish party.
Dozens of people have been arrested and mayors ousted in anti-terrorism investigations since the operation began on Oct. 9, while police have prevented public statements by officials of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), including Farisogullari.
"Oppression of our people has reached the point where even stepping outside to make the most democratic reaction faces a very harsh response," he said in the HDP building in the largest southeastern city Diyarbakir, as dozens of police stood outside.
The HDP is the only party in Turkey's parliament to oppose the offensive, and Farisogullari said locals he spoke to had expressed solidarity with Syria's Kurds.
President Tayyip Erdogan says Operation Peace Spring only targets terrorists, as he describes fighters from the Kurdish YPG militia which Ankara views as closely linked to Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group.
Ankara views the YPG as terrorists because of their links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a 35-year insurgency in southeast Turkey, in which more than 40,000 people have died.
Turkey also accuses the HDP of close links to the PKK. The HDP, the second biggest opposition party in parliament, denies ties to the PKK but does not view it as a terrorist group.
Vahap Coskun, a law academic at Diyarbakir's Dicle University, said the clampdown on HDP officials was exacerbating Kurds' disenchantment.
On Tuesday Ankara replaced four elected HDP mayors with state officials, bringing to 12 the number of mayors it has unseated over alleged links to terrorism since the March elections.
The HDP links that clampdown to the Syria operation, saying its offices across the southeast are subject to a blockade and that the right to freedom of expression and assembly has been suspended.
While the HDP has been unable to demonstrate against the offensive and crackdown on the party, a sit-in protest against the HDP has been continuing on the doorstep of its Diyarbakir headquarters since early September.
Some 20 mothers and fathers gathered there accuse the HDP of having sent their children to join PKK fighters.
"We don't know if he is alive or dead," said Suleyman Aydin, 39, clutching a photo of his son Ozkan adorned with a Turkish flag.
Ozkan was 15 when he left home to join the PKK at the time of a peace process between Ankara and the militants in 2015 - the same year a ceasefire collapsed, unleashing some of the worst fighting since the insurgency began.
Another parent, Turkan Mutlu said she pursued her daughter Ceylan after she fled Istanbul in 2012 to join the PKK and searched in vain for her in the group's mountain stronghold of Qandil in northern Iraq and in Syria's Kobani.
More than 4,600 people have been killed in Turkey and northern Iraq since the conflict resumed, according to the latest International Crisis Group tally.
The HDP denies the allegations and says the protests are orchestrated by the state to demonise the party.
(Production: Yesim Dikmen, Deniz Uyar, Umit Ozdal )
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None