Blame game over mosque set on fire in Diyarbakır
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the Diyarbakır Governor’s Office have blamed different groups for a fire which damaged a historical mosque in the southeastern province amid new clashes between supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the security forces in the city.
The Kurşunlu Mosque, a 500-year-old mosque built during the Ottoman era, caught fire on Dec. 7 during clashes in Sur, a historical district in Diyarbakır in which Diyarbakır Bar Association head Tahir Elçi along with two police officers were killed in a shootout on Nov. 28. Firefighters were unable to extinguish the fire because of the nearby clashes.
The governor’s office accused the PKK of setting fire to the historical mosque in a written statement on Dec. 7.
“The historical mosque Fatih Paşa Mosque [also known as Kurşunlu Mosque] which was damaged previously due to terror incidents was set to be renovated. But a fire was set by the members of the terror organization [PKK] inside the mosque. The original door of the mosque was burnt in this fire,” said the statement released late Dec. 7.
It also said members of the PKK prevented firefighters from entering the street to extinguish the fire and that the blaze went out by itself.
But HDP co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ accused security forces in the incident, quoting witnesses.
“Who burnt the Kurşunlu Mosque? All witnesses in that street, including journalists, say one thing: Kurşunlu Mosque was bombed from the air. The youth in the Sur neighborhood do not have helicopters. Who has helicopters? The state,” she said during a parliamentary group meeting for her party in Ankara on Dec. 8.
Meanwhile, clashes continued in Diyarbakır on Dec. 8 with PKK members clashing with the security forces in the Ofis neighborhood of the city. A curfew was still in effect in Sur as of Dec. 8.
Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipality has prepared a report on the destruction of the Kurşunlu Mosque and other historic buildings in the province, sending it to both UNESCO and the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry.
“People are getting killed and as if this was not enough, history is also being murdered,” said Nevin Soyukaya, the head of the cultural heritage and tourism office of the municipality.
In the meantime, one police officer was killed and another was wounded in clashes between police and the outlawed Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H) in the southeastern province of Mardin on Dec. 8.
Clashes reportedly erupted in Mardin’s Nusaybin district after police entered the Fırat neighborhood in armored vehicles to remove barricades and fill in trenches allegedly dug by militants of the YDG-H, the urban youth wing of the PKK.
Two police officers were wounded in the gunfight and both were taken to Nusaybin State Hospital for treatment.
One of the injured officers succumbed to his wounds in hospital, while the other injured officer was transferred to nearby Mardin State Hospital.
Police were accused of killing three civilians in Nusaybin on Dec. 7 after killing two others the day before.