48 bar associations condemn pro-government newspaper for targeting colleagues protesting hate crimes against Kurds

Forty-eight Turkish bar associations on Sunday condemned the pro-government Yeni Şafak daily for targeting 15 bar associations that have protested hate crimes against Kurdish citizens in Turkey.

The statement said bar associations had the duty to uphold democratic principles and stand against hate speech and crimes. It added that Yeni Şafak had not only targeted the bar associations in question but also used discriminatory and hateful language in its piece.

According to the statement the crimes against Kurds were not sporadic incidents but the result of mounting tension against minorities. Nihat Eren of the Diyarbakır Bar Association said the discriminatory language used by the media has also been adding fuel to the fire. “I condemn media outlets that are trying to downplay hate crimes and hate speech,” he added.

The 48 bar associations had recently condemned a series of hate crimes against Kurds in various Turkish cities. In its July 23 edition Yeni Şafak called the associations “Barons of Qandil,” implying that the associations were working for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Yeni Şafak said the attacks on Kurds were not hate crimes but “ordinary disputes and disagreements” and that the bar associations were causing ethnic clashes with their statements.

The PKK 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. The group is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the US.

The bar associations said the daily was spreading false accusations and targeting people and organizations. “We will not surrender to intimidation or stop telling the truth,” read the statement from the 48 bar associations.

A series of apparent hate crimes against Kurds took place in Turkey last week as a group of seasonal workers were attacked in Afyon province on Monday and a Kurdish family was attacked in Konya on Wednesday.

One man, Hakim Dal, was killed as a result of an attack by 60 people in a village in Konya. Dal’s bother Hamdi Dal said they had been threatened by other villagers several times.

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