Turkish police detained a group of young people in Istanbul’s Kadıköy neighbourhood on Sunday for listening to Kurdish music, igniting a wave of public outrage. The incident occurred in Moda Park, where four young Kurdish men were enjoying Kurdish music and dancing a traditional halay, a popular folk dance, before police confiscated their loudspeakers.
As tensions escalated between the youths and the police, an officer fired shots into the air, causing the frightened youths to flee. Subsequently, the police chased and apprehended the young individuals who tried to escape. Citizens in the neighbourhood expressed fury with the police during the incident.
Later, footage showing the police force the four detained Kurds to listen to the Mehter Anthem, an Ottoman military march, while they were face down on the ground in handcuffs, sparked outrage on social media. Turkish law stipulates that reverse handcuffing may not happen without good reason or for prolonged periods.
Subsequently there were some hours of concern for the four detained Kurdish men as there was no information as to where they had been taken. However, according to Mezopotamya Agency, the detainees were transferred to a court in the district on Monday morning.
The government under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has long faced criticism for cracking down on dissent and limiting civil liberties, and the its crackdown on the Kurds has intensified particularly in the run-up to Turkey’s critical elections.