An announcement by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) that a forrested area in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority province of Diyarbakır (Amed) would be named after the party leader Devlet Bahçeli has been met with furious reaction and protest from Kurdish politicians, activists, artists and other residents of the city.
It came on the back of an already shocked reaction as a journal of the city’s municipal administration, taken over by a government appointed trustee, also made an announcement that the same area would bear the name ‘Conquest Memorial Forest’.
As members of various groups staged a protest on Tuesday, a public statement was read on behalf of organisations including Dicle Culture and Arts Association, Amed Metropolitan Theatre, Mezopotamya Ecology Movement, Free Women Movement (TJA), Democratic Regions Party (DBP), People’s Democratic Party (HDP), a group of traditional Kurdish music performers (dengbejs) and a number of other NGOs.
A member of a culture and arts association, Suphi Orhan, read the announcement, stating that MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli was a political figure hostile against the Kurdish people, and said:
“To give his name to a place in Diyarbakır is a demonstration of great disrespect for the Kurdish people. It’s actually also a demonstration of disrespect for history itself.”
The protest was concluded with the crowd singing and accompanying a performance by musicians.
MHP and its affiliated organisations have a long history in Turkey of taking the law in their own hands and carrying out violent actions against members of political opposition on the side of state forces and in the name of national security.
Equipped with an ultra nationalist ideology amounting to racism, MHP members have taken part in assassinations and mass killings in 1970s that left thousands of students, academy members, teachers, writers, journalists, trade unionists and politicians dead. The MHP is equally hawkish against Kurdish political movements, denying the existence of a Kurdish people and advocating the use of military force as the only means for the resolution of the Kurdish question.