#2 Live Blog by Mehmet Kurt on Demonstrations in Mardin, Turkey
The small town of Siirt, Kurtalan, has been the scene of intense protests in the last few days. Demonstrators set the municipality building on fire and a small number of casualties were reported. The mayor, Nevzat Karatay, won the local election last March as a candidate of the ruling party, AKP. Although it wasn’t expected by the locals, it makes sense considering Karatay’s family size and their long-term ‘service’ as village guards in the area. Village guards are considered as ‘traitors’ by the Kurdish movement and have been responsible for many crimes, while benefiting the state authority for a long time. This has created tensions and divisions among Kurds in many area. As a result of the attack on the municipality, relatives of the mayor, armed village guards, responded by firing against the protestors with state supplied weapons. Three deaths and 13 wounded were reported. The situation in the town remains volatile.
The municipality was set on fire for the second time today. There is news about the resignation of the mayor, but not yet confirmed.
These incidents in Kurtalan are not detached from what has been happening in the area. Easily accessible arms have increased the dissemination of hatred and separation and undermined the negotiation process. Possible struggles are expected in the future. It seems everything in the region is related to a deeper power struggle and every incident represents something more profound than surface appearances.
Mardin – Nusaybin
One of the biggest districts of Mardin on the Syrian border, Nusaybin faces one of the most intense outbreaks of conflict between Kurdish protesters and the Turkish state. There is a continuing curfew after 6 PM, but all alleys and neighbourhoods are occupied by protesters. The roads are blocked by rocks and fire. Clashes usually happen on the main road, İpek Yolu, which connects the province of Mardin with Şırnak. It is also the main road to Iraq. Security forces are trying to keep the main road open, but it is especially hard in the evenings. The last report from the town shows that the situation has not yet calmed down. I watched a video on youtube, which shows the police intervening against the protesters while broadcasting a nationalistic Turkish anthem -Türkiyem- from their armoured vehicles. If the video is not fiction, it shows, indeed, how security forces consider the situation; ‘terrorists are trying to separate the country and security forces are fighting against them to maintain the unity of the country’. This scene also is another sign of increasing political and social separation.
Mardin – Kızıltepe
Kızıltepe, another large district of Mardin province, not so different from Nusaybin. There is no public transportation and roads and alleys are blocked. Some shopping centres were set on fire last night because it was claimed that their owners’s were connected to Hizbullah. The whole building burnt down but fortunately no deaths or injuries reported. However, the inflammatory mood of protesters is very high and religious Kurds and Arabs do not feel secure in the town.
Corpses were found around the demonstration area last night. It turned out that the two middle age men were the citizens of Syria and Saudi Arabia. Nobody knows what the real reason behind their murders but rumours indicate that they were killed because of their connection with ISIS. This may or may not be trues; two bearded men speaking Arabic at might be enough for hot-tempered demonstrators to be convinced that they are the supporters of ISIS. Or the real reason might be something else. Something we can never know. But for now, we have two more unsolved murders in addition to 21 in last two days.
A newly opened hotel, Dunaysır, was another place that set on fire last night in Kızıltepe. An informant said that the perpetrators were Hizbullah supporters, although is as yet unconfirmed.