Anger in Turkey over policeman's anti-Kurd rant


Kurdish Twitter users, both in Turkey and abroad, are sharing a video that has them very upset: in it, a Turkish police officer goes on a rant directed at dozens of Kurdish men who are forced to lay face-down with their hands behind their backs.

Here is what he screams:

“You will see the face of the Turkish republic! I know you, every single one of you! Whoever is hurting Turkey will pay the price! You’ll pay the price! What has this state ever done to you? … All of you will pay the price! You will see the might of the Turks! OK? [He addresses one man] Don’t look at me! Everyone put your heads down!”

According to local reports, this video was filmed on August 5 in Yuksekova, a Kurdish-majority city located on the border with Iran. The detained men are reportedly construction workers plucked from a construction site. They were suspected of being sympathisers of the militant organisation PKK, also known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

These past weeks, Turkey’s police has carried out frequent mass arrests following tip-offs claiming PKK connections, as the country experiences an uptick in violence against security forces.

The video has caused such outrage that Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, in a rare move, said the incident would be investigated.

However, that has not been enough to quell the anger of Twitter users in Turkey, hundreds of whom decided to respond to the officer’s question “What has this state ever done to you?”

“[The state] killed Mahir Cayan and his friends,” tweeted Ahmet Aziz Nesin, a journalist, in reference to the communist leader of People’s Liberation Party-Front who was shot by the Turkish army in 1972.

Another user by the name of Mevsimsizadam tweeted: “What has this state done to us? Killed Hrant Dink,” in reference to the editor of Turkish Agos weekly newspaper who was assassinated near his office in 2007. A Turkish-Armenian defender of minorities, Dink was popular in Kurdish circles.

Ömer Faruk Hatipoğlu tweeted: “40 thousand people died, millions were deported [a reference to the Armenian genocide]. What more do you want? What other persecution is left for you to carry out?”

Twitter user Orhan Aydin tweeted: “The state made the artists enemies, banned and censored art, threw artists in prison and stole cultural assets.”

The responses did not only come from Kurds but also other Turkish opposition activists who reminded the government of the violent crackdown during the weeks of Gezi Park demonstrations in 2013.

Activists also posted dozens of pictures showing police brutality on various demonstrators in Istanbul, Izmir and other cities in Turkey.

The hashtag #NeYaptiBuDevletBize (“What this state has done to us”) is now trending nationally.

Post written with France 24 journalists Van Meguerditchian and Gaelle Faure.