During a match with a football team from the southeastern province of Diyarbakır (Amed) in Bursa on Sunday, Bursaspor fans held up posters symbolising the extrajudicial killings and abductions that had taken place in Turkey during the 1990s, at the height of Turkish-Kurdish conflict.
Some Bursaspor fans held up posters of a white Toros, a model of Renault car, used in the 1990s by the Turkish Gendarmes Intelligence and Anti-Terrorist Units (JİTEM) to abduct people they later killed.
Others held up posters of Mahmut Yıldırım, known to many by his code name “Yeşil” [Green]. Yıldırım, a dark character inTurkey’s recent history, was a contract killer used by the JİTEM in various operations, before he disappeared in 1998.
The Bursaspor fans began attacking the Amedspor players before the match even started, when a crowd of them gathered outside a hotel where the team from the Kurdish-populated province were staying on Saturday night. The Bursa fans chanted “How happy is he who says ‘I am a Turk’”, a phrase introduced by Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, while carrying flaming torches, and letting off firecrackers and fireworks.
The Bursaspor fans once again attacked the Amedspor players, the moment they appeared on the pitch before the match kicked off. During the match they continued throwing objects at the players, slightly injuring Amedspor’s goalkeeper, who is in fact Turkish.
Many on social media called on the authorities to halt the match, however the game continued with the footballers trying to play under a rain of thrown objects.
Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on Twitter that all officials who ignored the posters symbolising extrajudicial killings and abductions being taken into the stadium have been suspended from duty.
“Images that have nothing to do with watching football at the football match in Bursa are not acceptable and are not appropriate to sport,” he said on Twitter.
But the police inside the stadium took no action against the aggression of the Bursaspor fans throughout the match, despite the Interior Minister’s warnings.
Meanwhile, the Diyarbakır Bar Association lodged a criminal complaint in relation to the crowd that had demonstrated against the Amedspor players on Saturday night, calling on the authorities to ban those identified as having been involved in racist attacks from entering stadiums.
The Amedspor players also faced attacks on leaving the pitch and in their locker room, the club said on its official Twitter account.
“Were our players supposed to die for the match to be halted?” the club asked, addressing the Twitter account of Turkey’s football federation.
The hashtag #Amedsporyalnızdeğildir [#Amedsporisnotalone] is trading on Turkish Twitter, with many condemning the attacks, particularly mentioning that many people in Turkey’s south, including Diyarbakır, have been struggling with the lack of shelter, food and clean water, and mourning for their loved ones, following the 6 February twin earthquakes.
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) have released the following short statement in relation to the events:
“We condemn the racist attacks on Amedspor in Bursa. The atmosphere in which the spirit of the 90s murderers and the remnants of JITEM travel will neither hinder Amedspor nor end the hope for peace. Those responsible must be held accountable before the law. We are millions who will not kneel before fascism.”