Calls for boycott of state-sponsored festival in devastated historic Kurdish district Sur
Pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and various Kurdish groups called for a boycott of a state-sponsored festival to be held in Sur district of Turkey's Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakir.
In the winter of 2015, neighborhoods of Sur was one of the Kurdish-majority settlements in the southeast where Turkish troops moved in with tanks, helicopters and artillery to eliminate Kurdish activists who set up barricades and put up armed resistance against military's intervention. Sur, a historic place situated at the banks of the Tigris river and inside the Diyarbakır Fortress, was devastated in the process.
Over 70 Turkish troops and hundreds of Kurdish fighters were killed in clashes that went on for three months. At least 200 civilians were killed in areas placed under curfew, according to human rights groups.
The new houses built in Sur had drawn waves of protest over their architectural design that according to critics resembled prison compartments.
HDP, the Democratic Regions Party (DBP), the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) and the Free Women's Movement (TJA) released a joint statement on Friday, saying:
"Boycotting this festival is an ethical and social responsibility, because the mourning for the ones lost in Sur has not been concluded. The fascist mentality that intends to turn Kurdish people's sorrows into entertainment by means of this festival also targets the values and culture of Kurds. Our history and cultural values require us to stand against this festival."
The statement cited Ali Riza Arslan, the father of Hakan Arslan whose remains were handed to his family in a plastic bag years after he was killed and buried in Sur, saying: "If the people take part in this festival, this will kill us once again."
Eight associations, including the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (OHD) also called for boycott. They said:
"Every alley in Sur, which signifies a collective memory of thousands of years, tells us about the cultures of the peoples. Every stone and piece of architecture in Sur marks the identity of a people and is a sign of history. They tore down Sur as part of their policies of denial and assimilation targeting Kurdish people. The demolition is still fresh in the minds. The wounds of people have not healed yet, and neither have the incidents been forgotten. Remains of people are still recovered from under the rubbles of historic buildings. And they hand the remains in a box! In such conditions, holding a festival in Sur is an attack against the values of Kurds and against things they hold sacred."