A few weeks after the controversial detention of a Kurdish shopkeeper on the grounds that he used the word “Kurdistan” during his conversation with the visiting Iyi (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener, another Kurdish shopkeeper was detained on Wednesday in Turkey’s southeastern city of Van (Wan), on the same day he used the words, “This is Kurdistan.”
Hacı Tunç, a Kurdish man who runs a shop in Ipekyolu, Van, was detained after he had a visit to his shop on Wednesday by Mustafa Sarıgül, the chair of the Party of Change in Turkey (TDP).
Sarıgül and his delegation has visited shopkeepers in a bazaar after he arrived in Van, as part of his political campaign.
During a conversation with Sarıgül, Tunç said: “The more languages, the more happiness. Eastern culture is different. Let us not forget about the East. A friend of ours in Siirt said, ‘This is Kurdistan.’ Two-thousand years ago, this was Kurdistan. It will still be Kurdistan. Let us not disagree. It is God who created us. Allah also knows Kurdish, Turkish, Arabic and English.”
Sarıgül responded to Tunç, saying, “All who live in the territory of the Republic of Turkey speak freely about their own race and opinion.”
Sarıgül added that he will be hand-in-hand, arm-in-arm, shoulder-to-shoulder with all citizens “who demand the unity of the border and the flag.”
After Sarıgül left the bazaar, police raided Tunç’s shop and detained him. Tunç has been taken to the ‘anti-terror branch’ of Van police station.
Kurdish shopkeeper Cemil Taşkesen was also detained on 29 October, one day after he used the word ‘Kurdistan’ in a casual conversation with the opposition party leader Akşener, who was visiting the Kurdish-majority city of Siirt (Sêrt) as part of her election campaign.
The Police Department confirmed that a criminal investigation has been launched against Taşkesen on charges of “organisational propaganda,” the organisation in this context referring to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the PKK, which has been fighting against the Turkish state over four decades for expanded rights for the Kurds and is deemed a ‘terrorist organisation’ by Turkey, the US and the EU.
It remains unknown whether Tunç was detained on similar charges with Taşkesen as Tunç’s lawyer told MA that the police has not yet informed them on what grounds his client was arrested.