A statue commemorating 16 citizens who were killed during celebrations of the Kurdish spring festival of Nevroz in the Nusaybin district of Turkey’s Mardin province has been demolished by government-appointed administrators, the Susma anti-censorship platform reported on Thursday.
Kurdish citizens in Turkey celebrated Nevroz in 1992 during the height of a conflict between Turkish armed forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Dozens were killed after an intervention by security forces in Cizre, a town on the Turkish-Syrian border some 90 kilometres east of Nusaybin.
Citizens in Nusaybin organised a march to protest the killings. After the group ignored police warnings and staged a sit-in protest in the town centre, security forces opened fire on them, killing 16.
A monument to the victims of the 1992 massacre was erected in the area in 2013; witnesses of the incident came to watch its construction “from the early hours of the morning until sunset,” the Evrensel newspaper reported.
However, five years later, the monument has been demolished, to be replaced by a clock tower. The decision was reportedly made by one of the “trustee” administrations appointed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government led by autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to replace popularly elected municipalities over their alleged links to the PKK.
The Turkish government’s crackdown on the Kurdish political movement began in late 2016 with the arrest of high profile politicians, including the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) then-co-chairs, Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş, which led to the detention of at least 5,000 members of the HDP, including 80 mayors.
Trustees have been appointed to dozens of municipalities in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast. There are currently 10 HDP deputies behind bars. The developments have attracted widespread criticism from the region and Western countries.
Turkish authorities had conducted direct talks with Abdullah Öcalan, jailed leader of the outlawed PKK for several years until a truce in effect collapsed in the summer of 2015. Since then, there have been heavy clashes between the PKK and Turkish security forces.
More than 40,000 people, including 5,500 security force members, have been killed in four decades of fighting between the Turkish state and the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU.
Over 1,200 Turkish security personnel and civilians, including a number of women and children, have been killed since July 2015 alone, when the Turkish government and the PKK resumed the armed struggle. The PKK has been listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the European Union. (SCF with Ahval)