Despite a ban by the Turkish authorities forbidding the Kurds to celebrate Newroz, on March 18, thousands of people gathered on the streets in many cities including Istanbul. Over one million people celebrated in Diyarbakir alone.
“The Turkish government responded with unprecedented violence to these popular peaceful celebrations,” said GUE/NGL MEPs Marie-Christine Vergiat and Jürgen Klute before explaining that Haci Zengin, head of BDP for the borough of Arnavutkoy had died after being hit in the head by a tear gas canister and many injured were in serious condition.
“Among those in hospital are two members of the BDP, Mulkiye Birtane (whom we had recently met in France), and Ahmet Turk (aged 70). Another MP, Ertugul Kurkcu, was beaten by police in Mersin. Several hundred people were remanded in custody,” they explained.
Vergiat and Klute denounced the Turkish government’s increasingly repressive attitude. Currently 9,000 people including 6 MPs, 31 mayors, 183 leaders of the BDP, and other non-Kurds such as those who dare to criticize the Turkish government’s attempt to limit freedoms face the same fate: 96 journalists, 36 lawyers, many trade unionists, human rights activists, students, and almost 2,000 children are currently in prison.
“The European Union must break its silence and denounce the excesses of the Turkish authorities. Confronted with gross violations of human rights, the Kurds and all those who support them need now, more than ever before, the support of all democrats, and all women and men fighting for the respect of human rights. Faced with this wall of silence, many Kurds across Europe have begun a hunger strike to protest against this growing oppression.”
“We cannot let their desperate call go unanswered,” concluded Marie-Christine Vergiat and Jürgen Klute.