A number of Kurdish citizens who had come to Afyon as seasonal agricultural workers were physically attacked and battered by racist assailants on Monday. Seven of the workers were injured, five of whom were hospitalised.
Ismail Tan (18), his sister Iremnur (17) and their cousin Ali Tan (22) were transferred to Afyon State Hospital from the local hospital where they had been first taken, because doctors suspected brain trauma as they were all vomiting.
Ismail and Ali’s medical reports revealed that their vomiting was caused by severe blows they had received to their kidneys and stomachs. Despite the medical reports, both Kurdish youngsters were taken by the police to the police station before even receiving treatment, MA reported.
According to Nurullah Aba, a relative of one of those attacked, the attackers were bothered by the workers speaking in Kurdish and that was their main motive for brutally assaulting the Kurdish workers.
“Ali and Ismail went to the barber’s shop, and the mukhtar, who owned the shop, told them to wait in the queue, but then took everyone else before them. After a while, Ali and Ismail asked why even those who came after them got seen first, a group of people set upon them, saying ‘You are terrorists, you’ve been speaking Kurdish in here.’ They then abducted Ismail, forcing him into a car, and took him to the woods. They filmed him as they attacked him,” Aba said.
Ali managed to escape from of the attackers, and returned to the campsite where they were staying with their families to let them know what had happened. But the attackers followed him to there and attacked the Kurdish workers, women and children being present.
“They wanted to kill my son, they took him to the woods, saying, ‘Bring the rope, let’s hang him and kill him.’ They even recorded this on camera. After all that, we are now being mistreated. They took my son to the police station to give a statement before he even received any medical treatment,” said Azize Tan, mother of Ismail Tan.
Azize also works as an agricultural worker and after the racist attack she and her family was thrown out from the tent they were staying in.
She was also a witness of the first moments of the attack on the workers at the campsite. According to her, around 50 men attacked them with stones and clubs.
“They threw us out of our tents. They came and told us, ‘You have half an hour to pack all your things and get out of here.’ We have packed and now we are waiting for our children.”
The Tan family is from Diyarbakır (Amed), in southeastern Turkey and the treatment they face in the western city of Afyon reveals the extent of racism targeting Kurds in Turkey. Even as she was relating the racist violence, Azize was trying to defend her children, saying, “my children didn’t do anything to them”.
“They used unspeakable language to us. They did these terrible things to us just because we are Kurds. When they attacked us, they were saying, ‘They should get the hell out of here’. I want these assailants to be punished for what they did to us.”
Just as most Kurdish families migrate to western and southern parts of Turkey to work as agricultural workers during the summer, this family too came to Afyon as part of making their living. And this is by no means the first hate crime a Kurdish seasonal agricultural worker family has been exposed to.
Last year in September, 16 Kurdish agricultural workers from Mardin (Mêrdin), were also attacked by locals and the owner of the field where were they working in Turkey’s northwestern city of Sakarya. Barış Demir, who was one of those attacked on that occasion, related that during the attack the attackers called them “a pack of dogs” and told them, “Did you think this was your homeland? This is our place,” a report of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV) revealed.
In 2018, Kadir Sakçı (39) lost his life after he and his son (16) were attacked by a group of racist assailants just because they were speaking in Kurdish in the street, TIHV reported.