Turkey: Kurdish left resists ‘political genocide’

Street clashes continue in the Sur district of the largely Kurdish city of Diyarbakır, which has for days been under siege by Turkish security forces. On Sept. 13, Diyarbakır's governor declared a 24-hour indefinite curfew in the district, but it was widely defied as angry protesters continued to fill the streets. Police threatened to shoot curfew violators, and have opened fire on protests—thus far resulting in no casualties, apparently. "Everywhere is Sur, everywhere resistance," crowds chant. Protests have spread to the nearby Koşuyolu Park, were demonstrators are rallying around the local offices of Democratic Society Congress (DTK). Police are trying to round up leaders of the PKK-affiliated Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H), who they say are behind the uprising. The Democratic Regions Party (DBP) has called on all residents of Diyarbakır to join the protests and converge on Sur district. Apparently fearing escalation, the city's government lifted the curfew after one day. (JINHA, Today's Zaman, Sept. 14)

Selahattin Demirtas, leader of the main Kurdish left-opposition party, HDP, on Sept. 9 warned that Turkey is approaching civil war after a night of attacks that left several of its offices in flames across the country. "In the last two days more than 400 attacks [on HDP] property have been carried out," he said. "We are facing a campaign of lynching." He accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of ordering the attacks.

The attaclks, the latest in wave that began days earlier, come as Erdogan is preparing new elections in hopes of reversing recent HDP gains in parliament. The Ottoman Union youth group, linked to Erdogan's ruling AKP, is said to be behind the campaign of violence. A bookstore that sold pro-Kurdish literature was also ransacked in Kırşehir. "It is chaos and the one thing to blame is Erdogan's insistence on wanting to create a presidential system," said prominent pro-opposition commentator Cengiz Aktar, a professor at Istanbul's Suleyman Shah university. "If this continues Turkey will end up in a civil war."

A state of emergency and street-fighting continue in Cizre, among several other locales in Turkey's east. Social media sites have again been blocked, and Internet access barred entirely in areas of the east. (Revolution News, Sept. 10; AFP, Sept. 9; BBC News, Sept. 8)

Pressure is building on the HDP. Authorities are calling for the immunity of party leader Demirtas to be lifted so he can face charges of terrorism and insulting the president. Demirtas is meanwhile calling on the PKK to instate a ceasefire. More than 200 people have been killed in Turkey since the ceasefire with the PKK broke down in July. The HDP charges some 20 civilians have been killed by security forces in Cizre, while the government says the dead were PKK militants. A delegation of HDP lawmakers that tried to enter the city on a fact-fidning mission was barred by troops. Kurdish leaders accuse the government of a campaign of "political genocide" aimed at destroying the HDP. (Daily Sabah, Sept. 14; EKurd, Sept. 11; VOA, Sept. 10; Al Jazeera, Sept. 8)