Tension rises in eastern Turkish province amid reports of march on Alevi neighborhoods
MALATYATension has been rising in the eastern province of Malatya, as a number of people from a larger group which had gathered to protest the failed coup attempt reportedly chanted pro-government slogans in largely Alevi-populated neighborhoods in the province.
“The [ruling Justice and Development Party] AKP supporters are here. Where are the Alevis?” shouted the group in the Alevi-dominated Paşaköşkü and Çavuşoğlu neighborhoods, as they also parked their cars in the neighborhoods’ streets and played AKP election songs.
Nearly 1,000 people gathered in the Paşaköşkü neighborhood and a fight erupted between the residents of the neighborhood and the group that was protesting the coup, Doğan News Agency reported on July 17.
The police showed up in the neighborhood after a short while and fired their guns into the air in order to disperse the groups, as representatives of Alevi associations called Malatya Governor Mustafa Toprak to ask for help.
The representatives told the governor that several provocative groups had arrived in the neighborhood in order to start fights and urgent prevention measures needed to be taken, to which Toprak replied by saying everyone should act “responsibly.” The governor also reportedly said that provocations wouldn’t be allowed and everybody should “calm down.”
The situation calmed after police intervention.
Meanwhile, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy head and Malatya lawmaker Veli Ağbaba warned against further rising provocations and tension in Alevi neighborhoods.
“Everyone should calm down and shouldn’t fall for provocations. As the CHP, we are calling on the citizens to remains calm regarding this issue. However, several groups are continuing to provoke and the [Malatya] Governor’s Office should take very urgent precautions,” said Ağbaba, adding that the “common sense of the people prevented a saddening incident from happening.”
“It’s a democratic right to celebrate peacefully against the coup attempt. But no one has the right to provoke or target anyone while using that right,” he also said.