‘Welcome to the Canton of Sur’

‘Welcome to the Canton of Sur’

“We have seen policemen who beat us with batons because we were ‘stepping on their shadow.’ We have lived too much cruelty; we have experienced too much oppression. The HDP [Peoples’ Democratic Party] is proceeding calmly. The HDP is the only party curbing the Justice and Development Party [AKP]. But, if the HDP cannot cross the threshold…”

I’m afraid it looks as if the HDP will not be able to control, curb and hold the masses that make the above statement. 

We were aware of it when it was founded at the end of last October. Now, I have been able to see what was written on walls in Diyarbakır: “Welcome to the Sur Canton.” It is a declaration of autonomy in the Sur neighborhood of Diyarbakır. Again, it was at the end of October or the beginning of November, we saw on television the declaration of cantons in certain neighborhoods of Cizre, Silopi and İdil. 

Young people in uniform, their faces covered in the local scarf, are on the streets. They define themselves as the security branch of the Patriotic Revolutionary Young Movement (YDG-H). It is the unit of the PKK, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has been providing security recently. They are administrating the cantons, in other words, autonomous neighborhoods; their identity checks are seen on television. 

If anybody is harassing women, annoying girls on their way to and from school, selling drugs, involved in theft, usury, organizing gambling… they call the perpetrator. The YDG-H punishes them. A serious beating first, then intimidation of “We won’t see you here again...” As their name implies, they are providing “security.”

In these places they have declared cantons, they conduct operations, they rule. 

Well, here is your real “parallel,” sir. Moreover it is a “canton,” a de facto autonomous area. 

I’m afraid the autonomy that they have declared under the name of “canton” in certain neighborhoods of Diyarbakır’s Sur, Cizre and İdil districts and in Silopi will become more widespread if the HDP is not able to cross the threshold. 

If they are not able to pass the threshold, then the HDP would act calmly. The HDP is against such a practice; for this reason the Kurdish grassroots defines the HDP as “wise.” Of course, wisdom calls for this but it is a separate issue whether or not the HDP will be able to control that portion of the grassroots.

Decision of tribes 

All the tribes in and around the Adıyaman, Urfa, Mardin, Şırnak, Batman, Van, Hakkâri and Siirt regions have decided to support the HDP. Within these tribes, there are village guards present, there are conservative and pious people and there are those who have supported the AKP in the past 10 years; they are all now on the side of the HDP. They are bothered by the fact that religion has been made a political tool, also by organizing rallies with the Quran in their hands. They think as if their beliefs are being questioned. 

There are 2,586 files involving about 10,000 people who committed election crimes in 2011. Those who committed election crimes were pardoned with an omnibus bill. Who were they? 

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Atilla Kart, when he could not receive a response from then justice minister Bekir Bozdağ, applied to the Office of the Prime Minister at the beginning of May within the framework of the Information Act. The question also involved whether or not there were AKP members among the pardoned, any civil servants and whether they are still active in the service. According to the law, the Prime Ministry should respond in 15 days. On May 15, a one-sentence reply came to Atilla Kart from the Public Relations Department of the Office of the Prime Minister: “Your inquiry has been sent to relevant institutions to be evaluated.” 

While the Office of the Prime Minister conveyed this one-sentence at the end of 15 days, they, at the same time, gained another 15 days because they referred it to the relevant institutions. After this, there are no extra 15 days; legally they have to reply. The deadline expires on May 30. This is important since who has violated election security in the past is a top concern for the June 7 elections.