Unidentified gunmen on Thursday attacked members of an Alevi community in Şahkulu Sultan Foundation in Istanbul, in an attempt to seize their trucks loaded with aid material to be sent to the earthquake victims in southeastern Turkey.
After facing resistance and wounding one person in the leg, the attackers fled the scene in cars with no licence plates on, as they utter the threat, saying “Do you know who is backing us”, according to the witnesses.
The community members were, as they have done the other days since the 6 February earthquakes, preparing to load the relief material to a truck in front of the foundation’s Pendik building when a group of armed men raided the aid truck and tried to seize the aids, according to Beyzade Özkahraman, the chair of the foundation.
The Istanbul Governor’s Office stated that the attack on the Şahkulu Foundation’s aid truck resulted from a “quarrel over not giving a pass.”
Alevis are the largest religious minority in Turkey. Discrimination against the Alevis is rampant in Turkey and the Alevi community has been traumatised by a spate of massacres throughout history dating back to the Ottoman Empire. The Alevi population have been further neglected during the 20-year rule of the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP).