After the forest fires broke out in the mostly western and southern provinces of Turkey such as Antalya, Aydin, and Mugla, there were also racist attacks in many places since the Kurds were targeted and blamed for starting the fires. Reportedly, many racist groups took it upon themselves to set up vigilante road blocks with knives and guns carrying out so called identity checks.
These racist vigilante groups stopped and attacked people who are from the mostly Kurdish provinces of Turkey. The police did not intervene while many citizens were beaten and threatened by these groups simply because it stated that they were born in Kurdish areas of Turkey on their identity cards.
The Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) issued a written statement about the wildfires and condemned those who accused the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Kurds for the wildfires.
“There is no truth whatsoever in any of the news claiming that the fires had been ignited by Kurds or by the PKK. All such news is a complete fabrication of the special war,” said the KCK.
However despite the statement of the KCK, the blame game against the Kurds for starting the forest fires continued on social media and places where the fires took hold and spread.
MA talked to the residents of the Kurdish city of Diyarbakır (Amed) about the recent attacks and Kurds being blamed for starting the fires. What the majority of those Kurds spoken to said, was that they were not at all surprised since they believe that anything that ever happens in Turkey that is negative, both the media, some racist groups, and political parties all work together to blame Kurds. Such blaming and targeting means that racist attacks against the Kurds will repeat over and over again.
Abdulsamet Çakır is one of them. “Whatever happens negatively in the world, they say Kurds are doing it, anyone who throws a rock they hold Kurds responsible for that…What is that to do with Kurds? I do not get how it is related with Kurds?” he states angrily. “We condemn all of them, we have not done anything like this so far, and we will not do in the future,” he adds.
Mehmetşah Toprak on the other hand refers to the racist attack in which 7 members of a Kurdish family were murdered in Konya. “They just blame Kurds for the fires,” he says.
“We feel sorry for every living thing, why would we do that? There are animals in those forests. For 75 years whatever they do, they blame Kurds for that, why would we burn them? We did not burn them, they did it themselves. 7 people, a Kurdish family is murdered, no one is talking about it.” talking about the political atmosphere within the country.
Another Kurdish resident in Diyarbakir, İkbal Ayazlı approaches the issue of the fires from a more critical way. He thinks the fires were started by people who plan to build tourist places in those regions.
“Let me explain to you what kind of a game it is. It is a political tactic. They burned all those places and later they will build villas, apartments, workplaces in all those places!” he states.