3 Kurdish university students injured in allegedly racist attack at Antalya university

Three Kurdish students from Akdeniz University in Antalya were slightly injured in an allegedly racist attack on the university campus by a group of 30 people, Turkish Minute reported.

Students Botan Artuç and Feyzi Akan were taken to Akdeniz University Medical Faculty Hospital, while Hatice Tonğ went to Atatürk State Hospital for treatment, Mezopotamya said.

The attack was condemned on social media under the hashtag #AkdenizdeFaşistSaldırı (Fascist attack at Akdeniz).

A small group of university students, supporters of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), held a demonstration on Wednesday and released a public statement condemning the attack.

“The policies regarding Kurds pursued by the fascist alliance of the AKP and the MHP is reflected in every area of life. … You think anything goes against the patriotic Kurdish people and its youth. We say self-defense is a fundamental right, and from now on, it’s a must [for Kurdish youth]. We’ll defend ourselves!” they said.

The students were referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Public Alliance, which includes his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

Speaking in parliament on Tuesday, Meral Danış Beştaş, parliamentary group deputy chair of the HDP, called on Turkish authorities to “immediately detain the perpetrators of the racist attack.”

Fueled by the discriminatory discourse of the AKP government and the MHP, hate crimes against Kurds have increased in Turkey in the recent past.

A racist attack against a Kurdish family in Konya led to the death of seven people in August 2021, a month after a group of seasonal workers were attacked in Afyon province.

In October 2020 a Kurdish seasonal farmworker, Şirin Tosun, 19, was shot dead in Sakarya for speaking to his friends in Kurdish.

Sixteen Kurdish seasonal laborers were attacked on Sept. 4, 2020, by a farmer and a group of villagers in Turkey’s northwestern province of Sakarya in an incident that appears to have been caused by anti-Kurdish sentiment.

In another hate crime father and son Kadir Sakçı, 43, and Burhan Sakçı, 16, were attacked by a mob, again in Sakarya, for speaking in Kurdish to each other. Kadir Sakçı died of his injuries, and Burhan was hospitalized for an extended period of time.

Kurds in Turkey are often pressured not to speak their native language. Authorities frequently claim that people speaking in Kurdish are actually chanting slogans in support of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been leading an armed insurgency against Turkey’s security forces since the ’80s in a campaign that has claimed the lives of some 40,000 people.

Prohibitions against the use of Kurdish in Turkey go back many years. Kurdish language, clothing, folklore, and names had been banned since 1937. The words “Kurds,” “Kurdistan” and “Kurdish” were among those officially prohibited. After a military coup in 1980, speaking Kurdish was officially forbidden even in private life.

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