Racist attacks against Kurds have been increasing with every passing day along with inflammatory discourse by the Turkish government. Demonstrations have been organised around the country to protest againt the massacres in İzmir, Antalya, Ankara and most recently Konya. One of these demonstrations was organised in Van (Wan), a Kurdish-majority province in eastern Turkey.
On 31 July, thousands of people took to the streets in Van to protest against the racist murder of a Kurdish family in Konya, in response to a call from the Democracy Platform. Ten people were arrested following a police attack.
After the process of having their statements taken and being transferred – first to the Prosecutor’s Office and from there to the Court – three of the ten were sent to prison on charges of “resisting the police,” and the others were released under judicial control, similar to a caution.
Hazal Karabey, a member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) party assembly, who was among those released, talked to Jin News about the abuse of rights while they were in detention. She also shared her views about the racist attacks that have been taking place in Turkey.
She noted that they saw the racist massacre of seven members of a Kurdish family in Konya as a “societal phenomenon” that needed to be reacted against by all sections of society in order for such acts to never be repeated ever again, and they had joined the protest action as a humanitarian response and as an act of conscience against the massacre.
She stated that during the protest action, there had been a sudden attack by the police, using violence and water cannons against them. “We were lined up on the pavement and kept waiting for hours. My friends were verbally abused during their detention.” She said three of her friends were, unlawfully, severely beaten and detained.
“One of our provincial administrators was subjected to severe torture. These things were caught on camera. Six people were taken into custody on the following day for the same action.”
Karabey said that they were brought before the prosecution following a long period in detention. The prosecutor asked them questions like, “Who are the Labour and Democracy Platform? Why did you go there? What slogans did you chant?” In response, she added that they said: “We were exercising our natural right to protest against the racist attack with a demonstration and a march, and we could not accept this in all humanity and conscience. People should not experience racist attacks, and we participated in order to try and prevent this kind of thing.”
She said that they had been taken to the hospital for a health check and the doctor had asked them in a loud voice, in front of the police, “Do you have a problem?” Even though friends of theirs had been beaten, she stated that the doctor had indicated that not enough had happened to them to even warrant a health check.
After almost a week in detention and having been subjected to such inhumane treatment, Karabey still insists on the relevance of the struggle: “Such policies of the government, based on creating fear, will not intimidate us. As a Kurdish woman, as a young Kurd, I will continue to be politically engaged and I will keep up my struggle.”
She pointed out that racist attacks were, at the same time, a part of the policies that were targeting their party, the HDP. “Our party is a target because it has developed a policy around the values of all identities, languages, cultures and peoples. Our people are subjected to racist attacks as a direct result of the discourse and denunciation policies of the government. We announce, once more, that we will never give free passage to these policies and we will expose this racism in every arena.”