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Tension simmers in northwestern Turkey in wake of BDP, HEPAR fight

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News | 6/8/2011 12:00:00 AM |

Tensions have been growing as conflicting stories emerge in the wake of a Sunday clash between BDP and HEPAR supporters in Bursa's Yenişehir district.

Tensions have been growing as conflicting stories emerge in the wake of a Sunday clash between supporters of Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish party and a right-wing nationalist party in Bursa’s Yenişehir district.

On Sunday night, two groups of young people from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, and the right-wing Rights and Equality Party, or HEPAR, came together in Yenişehir’s center, reportedly because of long-term hostility based on nonpolitical reasons. Police intervened in the clash, detaining two BDP members. Reports also said the BDP members were allegedly carrying chopper knives.

In response to the clashes, nearly 300 nationalist supporters gathered in the district center Monday, singing the national anthem and chanting, “Turkey belongs to Turkish people.”

“Whenever the group started to walk toward the Kurdish neighborhoods, police used tear gas and blocked the group,” a local journalist speaking on condition of anonymity told the Hürriyet Daily News by phone.

There were similar nationalist protests on Tuesday as well, according to reports.

Some media outlets have presented the continuing incidents as if it they were occurring between BDP and HEPAR supporters, yet this is not the case, the local journalist said, adding that of the 16 people detained during the Tuesday disturbances, none were BDP members.

İsmail Bağatır, the head of HEPAR’s youth organization in Bursa, told the Daily News by phone that the Kurdish people who were involved the incidents had been threatening them for more than a year; in spite of that, the police never took measures against them, he said.

“These are very bad people who are involved in all sorts of trouble, including drug dealing and extortion at high schools,” said Bağatır.

But both the journalist and Mehmet Dilek, the BDP’s Bursa branch head, said the Kurds in the area were not drug dealers but only agricultural workers.

“I have been working here as a journalist since 1984, I have even interviewed the grandfathers of these people; the young Kurdish people are simple farmers, nothing more,” said the journalist.

HEPAR’s youth organization held a press meeting Monday, demanding Bursa’s governor resign from his post.

On July 25, 2010, a clash occurred between a nationalist group and Kurds in Bursa’s İnegöl district during which cars were turned upside down and the roads were closed after a Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, rally in the district.  

Referring to the incident, Dilek said they were only taking the side of peace, but added that others were trying to provoke young people who were probably under the influence of alcohol.

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