In Sakarya province in western Turkey, a father was killed last month and his son seriously wounded for saying they were Kurdish. Turkey’s Human Rights Association visited the family and prepared a report about the case. According to the report, after hearing them speaking a non-Turkish language, the attacker, 51-year-old Hikmet Usta, asked Kadir Sakçı and his 16-year-old son, if they were Syrians. Kadir Sakçı, 43, said, “no, we are not Syrian, we are Kurds”. Cursing them, the attacker shot and killed the father and seriously injured the son.
This is not the only case. Every year there are several attacks against Kurdish seasonal agricultural workers who travel to other parts of Turkey. These Kurdish workers live and work in very hard conditions in these cities. In many Turkish cities, Kurdish seasonal agricultural workers they are forced to live in tents in the outskirts of town. They are not allowed to enter city centres. Even living in the outskirts of town, these Kurdish workers are not protected from hate crime.
Last year, Perihan Akın, a Kurdish woman and seasonal worker in near the northern city of Samsun, was killed by Turkish racists in an attack on a camp. After the attack, Kurdish workers told media that the racists named their camp area as “the place of pigs” and called the attacks “hunting the pigs”.
These racist attacks and crimes are the results of hate speeches by Turkish politicians and the result of government policies targeting Kurds. The real perpetrator is this hateful rhetoric of the Turkish state. As a Kurdish woman living in Turkey, I have learned that in the eyes of Turkish state, the best Kurd is the dead Kurd!
While these racist attacks continue, last month Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said Syrian Kurdish forces around the town of Manbij would be buried in their own trenches. If U.S. troops withdraw from Syria, it is not hard to presume what may happen in Kurdish areas of Syria. Not only the Kurds, but also Christians, Assyrians, Yezidis and other minorities would be forced to flee or be killed. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says Islamic State (ISIS) cells are again targeting the mainly Kurdish SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) east of Euphrates with assassinations.
Everyone knows who actually fights ISIS: The Kurds. And everyone knows which countries have given direct or indirect support to ISIS. Last month, a “most wanted” ISIS member, Ayşenur İnci, with a $270,000 bounty on her head, was released in Turkey three days after her arrest, only to be re-arrested after critical reports in the press and social media. It has been reported many times that ISIS members have been treated in Turkish hospitals. It is clear that Turkey is not a trustworthy partner in the fight against ISIS. Moreover Turkey has created a welcoming space in Afrin for jihadists by clearing it of Kurds.
Another alarming report was published recently by the Early Warning Project, an organisation that assesses the risk of genocide, mass killings and atrocities in countries around the world. According to the report, Turkey is the eighth most likely country in the world for a mass killing to take place in 2019, a risk higher than Sudan and Somalia. It is obvious which ethnic group would be target of mass killings: the Kurds.
Let us be honest. While “burying Kurds in their own trenches” as the defence minister said, the same rhetoric will circulate: “We are not against Kurds, we are only against PKK”.
The question is will the world allow the continuation of this cruel Kurdophobia.