Turkey’s Human Rights Association (İHD) has compiled a series of racism incidents occurring in the country during October 2023, from cases reported in the Turkish media.
The İHD’s Commission against Racism and Discrimination observed daily practical incidents propagating Turkish and Sunni supremacy, and a circulation of public discourse that was demeaning to ethnic and religious groups.
Racist practices and discourse were evident in both everyday life and institutional settings, the watchdog noted, with institutional racism particularly prevalent in areas such as police operations, the judiciary, the courts, the penal system, prisons, the military, and daily interactions.
Translation of İHD Commission against Racism and Discrimination October 2023 report:
HUMAN RIGHTS ASSOCIATION
COMMISSION AGAINST RACISM AND DISCRIMINATION
Attack against players and fans of Batman Petrolspor
Batman Petrolspor’s team bus had its windows broken when it came under attack following a no-score draw between Turkish Football Federation’s Elazığspor and Batman Petrolspor in Group 2 of Division 3. The Batman Petrolspor players left the stadium accompanied by riot police. Elazığspor fans waiting outside the stadium attacked Batman Petrolspor’s team bus with stones. The windows of the bus were broken, and the team changed their bus and left for Batman.
Antisemitic messages regarding Israeli civilian hostages
A torrent of racist posts appeared on social media relating to the large number of civilians Hamas took hostage in its al-Aqsa Flood Operation. Some of these messages were as follows:
“There are no civilian Jews in Palestine, all the Jews are terrorists.”
“No member of the religion of Judaism is innocent; they are murderers. No Jew is an innocent civilian.”
“Friends, there is no such thing as a civilian population [there], there is only the Jewish nation. They are all back-stabbers from the same line.”
“There are no civilian Jews, there are only fascist Jews.”
“There is no such thing as an Israeli civilian. All Jews are soldiers.”
Praise for Hitler from Justice and Development Party (AKP) town councillor
Süleyman Sezen, a councillor for the municipal of Atakum, Samsun, praised Hitler at the council’s October meeting: “In history everyone has raged at Hitler for being a racist. But there was something Hitler said. He said, ‘You will curse me for every Jew I do not kill,’ and it is true. I commemorate Hitler once more with Allah’s mercy. The world will achieve peace and prosperity only after it is cleansed of Jews.”
Attack and threats against church administrators and members
Mesut Türkmen, a member of the Church of Liberation in Malatya was threatened with a note saying, ‘Watch your step, this is a Muslim neighbourhood’, and subsequently subjected to an armed attack. Though he lodged a criminal complaint, nothing came of it.
Another attack was thus added to the list of threats and attacks directed at administrators and members of the Church of Liberation in the Hacı Abdi neighbourhood of Malatya. After the Zirve Publishing House massacre on 18 April 2007 in which three Christians, one German and two Turkish nationals, were murdered by having their throats cut, many Christians living in the city have been subject to death threats.
Church of Liberation member Vedat Serin lodged a criminal complaint after he was subjected on 6 September 2022 to a threat referring to the Zirve Publishing House massacre. Following this incident, on 10 August 2023, Mehmet Çolak, who worked at the church as a preacher and administrator, was threatened with death by the Turkish Revenge Brigade (TİT), who said, “If you don’t leave the church, we will take off your head.”
Not only have there been no developments in relation to criminal complaints lodged regarding either incident, it has been revealed that 11 days after Çolak was threatened, another church member, Mesut Türkmen, was also threatened with death and subjected to an actual armed attack.
Türkmen stated that he had been shot at on his return from visiting a friend in the Örnek neighbourhood of Wêranşar (Doğanşehir) district [of Malatya] on 21 August 2023. Türkmen also revealed that he had had a handwritten note left on his car saying, ‘This is a Muslim neighbourhood, watch your step’, a month before the attack.
Yeni Akit news outlet used fake news to level accusations against accused Turkish Jews
In a news article published under the heading, “Strip Zionist lackeys of citizenship” the [Yeni Akit news outlet] claimed that all Jews were naturally citizens of Israel and that Jews from all parts of the world went to Israel to fight the Palestinians, saying: “The ones that went from Turkey to Israel did so silently and underhandedly. Because they are automatically citizens of Israel, Turkish Jews residing in big cities like Istanbul and Izmir went to that country to do military service.” The Yeni Akit made a call for Turkish Jews to be stripped of [Turkish] citizenship. The Avlaremoz news outlet, which reported on this, said that Jews were not automatically citizens of Israel, and that a decision [of citizenship] was made only after the examination of an application for Israeli citizenship.
New information revealed relating to people arrested for singing Kurdish songs at wedding
More details have emerged of the 23 wedding guests, including musicians, arrested because of songs sung at a reception in the Kurdish-populated village of Kireç in Eskişehir province. Community Freedom Party (TÖP) speakers’ committee member Perihan Koca said that although six weeks had passed since the wedding, arrests and statements relating to the investigation had only been processed this week. Koca, who had spoken to a member of the groom’s family and two of the villagers, said that the detainees had been repeatedly forced to sing in Turkish the [Kurdish] songs played at the wedding, and that they had faced anti-Kurdish treatment. Koca shared the following post on her social media account:
I spoke to a member of the groom’s family and two of their neighbours about the arrest of 23 people on the grounds of “making terrorist propaganda” after a wedding in Kireç village where Kurds live in Eskişehir province. The wedding was six weeks ago. But the house raids, arrests and summons for statements have only happened this week. The wedding salon was raided too. The musicians were arrested along with the wedding guests. The paperwork from the wedding was seized. Those arrested were detained at the anti-terror branch for 8-9 hours.
Diyarbakır Bar prosecuted for genocide statement
The trial of lawyer Cihan Aydın, chair of the Diyarbakır Bar from 2018-2020, and management committee members from the same period, on charges of denigrating the Turkish nation, the State of the Republic of Turkey and institutions and organs of the state because of a statement they made relating to the Armenian Genocide, has commenced at Diyarbakır Serious Penalty Court No.9.
The Monitoring Association for Equal Rights, which is following the trial, stated that the case for the prosecution had demanded sentencing for all the defendants, and that the hearing had been adjourned to 22 December 2023 in response to the request of the defendants and councils for the defence for time to present their response to the prosecution’s case.
Diyarbakır Barosu @Diyarbakirbaro 2018-2020 dönemi başkanı Av. Cihan Aydın ve yönetim kurulu üyelerinin Ermeni Soykırımı ile ilgili yaptıkları açıklama sebebiyle Türk Milletini, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Devletini, Devletin Kurum ve Organlarını Aşağılama suçunu işledikleri iddiasıyla…
— Eşit Haklar İçin İzleme Derneği (@esithaklar) October 23, 2023
Anti-semitic attack on synagogue
There was a racist attack against the Etz Hayim Synagogue in Izmir on Saturday 28 October. The words, “Murderer Israel” were sprayed in red paint on the front of the Etz Hayim Synagogue, at the main door. In addition the door itself and adjacent explanatory plaques were covered in spray paint.
The attackers were caught in the act. They were referred to the prosecution after security cameras were checked. The Etz Hayim Synagogue is not open for worship, but is used as a centre for events. However, all such events in Izmir, as in Istanbul, have been cancelled because of security concerns following the start of the Israel-Hamas war.