Live Blog by Mehmet Kurt on Demonstrations in Mardin, Turkey
Last night was a long one. The demonstrations continued almost all night long and in the morning the remnants of the protest littered the Kurdish neighbourhood of downtown Mardin. A surveillance camera, called MOBESE in Turkish, was lying on the main square of the neighbourhood attached a very heavy pole. I have learned that it took more than 25 people to carry it from the main road.
After I learned that there is no public transportation between Kurdish cities today and I can not go back to where I live in Bingöl, a small city on the north of Diyarbakır, I took a long tour around the city of Mardin. Downtown Mardin is the only place, where there is no declared curfew. Although there is a curfew in other districts of Mardin such as Kızıltepe and Nusaybin, it has only managed to raise the intensity of the demonstrations, which begin in the evenings. Soldiers in military bases are building new barbed-wire fences, since there was an attack to one of the military centres in Yeniyol area.
A Fashion for Scarves
There is a scarf around every young person in the city. It is a sign of their eagerness to participate in the evening demonstrations.
On my way back home, in the early evening, all roads were closed by activists. The calm of the morning was entering another phase. No public transportation. I picked up an Arab 65 years old man, a resident of Mardin, on my way to Yenişehir. He told me that he has never seen any thing like this in Mardin in all of his life, which might be true, since I also haven’t seen a curfew since the early 1990s. These scenes and 21 deaths in just one night is not a sign of a hopeful future. Most of these 21 people lost their lives in a fight between PKK supporters and Hizbullah members, two long lived enemies from 1990s.
Demonstrations take place in several parts in the city, mostly in the Kurdish populated neighbourhoods. The Arabs? They prefer to stay inside and if necessary, to talk in a broken Kurdish. The anger among Kurds is very intense and the Arabs living here do not feel very secure. They are very surprised to see this happening in Mardin, a city largely controlled by Arabs for a long time. The unifying experiences of the 1990’s – displacement, violence, unsolved killings, and mass migration, brought Kurds and Arabs in downtown Mardin together. Now there is an increased anger towards the state, towards Islamists (especially Hizbullah members) and towards Arabs in Mardin.
What is happening in Mardin now goes beyond the the protests in Kobanê. Although Kobanê is the most visible and immediate concern and the motivation to go to streets, the rest of the anger being expressed in the streets relates to the history of the region and people’s experience of every day violence. People are on the streets for Kobanê, but the way they stay in the streets needs to be understood from the perspective of what has happened to Kurds in last 35 years.
Tonight is another long one. There is already news about two more deaths in the town of Kızıltepe. I hope this will be the last, but I’m not very hopeful. Residents of Kurdish neighbourhoods are walking down to Yenişehir, an upper middle class neighbourhood where it is unusual to see intense demonstrations. They might have decided to show this is not going to affect only Kurds. I hope not in a violent way.
The intensity of the clashes have increased. A helicopter flying over the city. There is news from different neighbourhoods about injuries. A hotel in kızıltepe is set on fire. I think we should look for the class related issues behind this anger expressions.
Thursday Oct 9th
The situation changes very quickly, unfortunately not in a good way. The vice chief of police and another police manager were killed in Bingöl tonight, while the chief and his guard have been wounded. In response, 4 were killed around Genç.
Nationalist Kurds gathered and attacked protesters in Gaziantep. Four s and more than a dozen injuries are reported.
There are new casualties in Nusaybin, Mardin and many places….