Turkish nationalist mobs attacked the offices of the mainly Kurdish party (HDP) in several cities and set fire to the party’s headquarters in Ankara on the night of September 8, sparking fears that violence, largely contained in Turkey’s southeastern provinces so far, could spin out of control.Is this the meltdown that many predicted? Is this why Turkey has been stepping up attacks against the Kurds?
Nationalist sentiment is running high on the streets of Turkey as the country heads towards snap elections in November at which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is desperate to regain the parliamentary majority his Justice and Development Party (AKP) party enjoyed for 12 years until losing it at the last polls in June.
What trigged Tuesday night’s violent events are recent Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerilla attacks that killed more than 30 security personnel in the country’s eastern and southeastern provinces. Thousands of supporters of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) took to the streets in protest against the attacks. The government and nationalists regard the HDP as the political wing of the PKK.
This was not the first time that HDP offices and its officials had come under attack but the scale and nature of Tuesday’s assaults was alarming. Not only were HDP buildings attacked by thousands of nationalists but also Kurdish businesses were targeted, pelted with rocks and some were torched. There were also reports that Kurdish workers in Ankara’s Beypazari district were beaten up.
Another country that bears watching.