Massacre in Turkey triggers debate on racism against Kurds
The brutal murder of seven members of a family in the court of their house by their neighbor in the Central Anatolian province of Konya on July 30 fueled a debate on racism.
The Dedeoğulları, a Kurdish family that moved to Konya some three decades ago, was the target of the massacre by Mehmet Altun, who was at large as of late July 31.
14 people have been detained as part of the ongoing probe.
The family had complained of a previous attack on them on May 12, saying that dozens of people beat them, citing that because “they were Kurdish.”
The violence was recorded by a camera installed by the victims to their house after the first attack.
Some news reports claimed that the massacre was not linked to ethnic tensions but a “cat stealing” incident some 11 years ago, depending on a statement by the prosecutor’s office but rights groups held protests in several cities to protest what they named “racist murder.”
Reports on previous attacks
Barış Dedeoğulları, one of the victims, had told Gazete Duvar of Turkey that they were “harassed and attacked by their neighbors ‘because they were Kurds.'”
According to Abdurrahman Karabulut, the attorney of the family, Yaşar and Barış Dedeoğulları stopped by him hours before the incident and asked why the attackers had not been arrested.
On the evening of 30 July, Mehmet Altun came to the Dedeoğulları family’s house. They talked in the courtyard. Then the man took out a gun from his bag and started shooting, killing 7 people with 19 bullets. He then tried to set the house on fire.
“No ethnic motivation,” gov’t says
“This is an atrocity. The blood of seven of our citizens will not be left on the ground,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said.
Interior Süleyman Soylu said condemned the attack, but said the incident had “nothing to do with the Turkish-Kurdish issue.”
Communications Director of the Turkish Presidency, Fahrettin Altun, agreed, saying that “The propaganda that this murder, this brutal massacre was committed with ideological motives, is a complete provocation, it is a lie.”
“The heinous murders in Konya are being investigated from multiple perspectives within the framework of the instructions of the Chief Prosecutor’s Office. We are following the incident closely. Contrary to provocative manipulation, there is no evidence that the incident took place with an ethnic or ideological motive,” said Justice Abdulhamit Gül said.
Main opposition People’s Republican Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu was cautious but send a team of his party seniors to the region for inspections.
“We received news of a terrible massacre in Konya. Since the subject is very sensitive, I did not want to talk before the details were clarified. Our delegation headed by Abdüllatif Şener is in the region. Findings will be shared,” he said.
HDP accuses gov’t discourse
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), a Kurdish-issue-focused political party that faces several lawsuits on terrorism-related charges, accused the nationalistic discourse of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its election ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
The HDP said the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission decided to visit the region on August 2, but later canceled the visit because of “unsuitable conditions”.
“A large delegation will be in Konya with me. We call on the leaders of all opposition parties and democratic forces to embrace the same attitude. These are not events that can be explained by personal enmity, interest, or individual anger. On the contrary, they are brutal practices of a systematic plan, implemented step by step. Let’s say enough is enough, let’s stop fascism and racism together,” said HDP co-chairman Mithat Sancar.
The incident added to recent reports that claimed attacks on citizens of Kurdish origin. On July 19, if 43-year-old Hakim Dal, a farmer in the same district of Meram in Konya was killed in an attack by a large group. “They didn’t want us because we are Kurds. They were telling us, ‘You’re going to sell this place and leave,'” said Hamdi Dal, one of the two survivors of the attack.