Scuffles erupt in Diyarbakır's Lice district between Islamists and BDP

Scuffles erupt in Diyarbakır's Lice district between Islamists and BDP

DİYARBAKIR – Doğan News Agency
Scuffles erupt in Diyarbakırs Lice district between Islamists and BDP

Officials from the Diyarbakır Governor's Office confirmed that 16 people were injured during the clashes while one car was set on fire. AA photo

Sixteen people were injured during clashes on Jan. 30 between supporters of the Free Cause Party (HÜDAPAR) and the Peace and Development Party (BDP) in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır’s Lice district.

One local, Ömer Bağır, was reportedly taken into intensive care after suffering an injury in the melee.

The scuffles broke out after members of the Islamist HÜDAPAR, affiliated to the Turkish Hizbullah, reportedly began distributing leaflets for their candidate for the local mayoral post in the March 30 polls to shopkeepers in Lice, a bastion of the predominantly Kurdish BDP. 

HÜDAPAR’s deputy head and candidate for Diyarbakır mayor, Hüseyin Yılmaz, accused the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H), the self-styled youth and public order organization of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), for initiating the violence. 

“Ninety-nine percent of the shopkeepers, members of the BDP included, showed us a lot of interest. We started to leave the district after completing our work, but three of our cars that were lagging behind the convoy were attacked by the gangs of the YDG-H, which are an independent entity inside the BDP but are serving the PKK,” Yılmaz said. 

“Three people inside the cars were injured after windows were smashed. We have filed a complaint to the police,” he said.

Locals dispute HÜDAPAR's version of events

Several shopkeepers in Lice, however, accused HÜDAPAR of staging a deliberate provocation in a town in which it has few supporters, alleging that party members came from other districts armed with guns, axes, crowbars, stones and other weapons, according to the Fırat news agency.

“We were at the store, and [the HÜDAPAR members] came into the store, saying, ‘We’re from Allah’s party,’” said shopkeeper Tahsin İşcan, noting that the Islamists subsequently attacked them after a friend said: “Allah doesn't have a party. Did He form a party without us knowing about it?”

Another shopkeeper, Mehmethan Durak, said the group began attacking with weapons after locals expressed outrage when the members called the BDP the “party of infidels.”

Hizbullah, with whom HÜDAPAR is allegedly affiliated, is recognized as a terrorist organization in Turkey and is unrelated to the Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah. Hizbullah allegedly received state support in the 1990s as a counterweight to the leftist-inspired PKK, and the Islamist organization became infamous for torturing its victims to death.

Diyarbakır Deputy Gov. Zafer Engin confirmed that 16 people were injured in the incidents while one car was burned, adding that the exact reason for the scuffles were unclear. 

“The situation is now quiet. But there is a group that is waiting inside the district headquarters [of the BDP]. The BDP’s provincial head and mayoral group are trying to persuade them [to come out],” Engin said Jan. 30. 

Meanwhile, BDP Diyarbakır Deputy Nursel Aydoğan denounced “provocations” and said that a shopkeeper had been seriously injured after being hit by a stone. 

Tensions between groups affiliated with Hizbullah and left-leaning Kurds are common in southeastern Turkey. Fights erupted last year at Diyarbakır’s Dicle University between the two groups, prompting a police crackdown that included an aerial bombardment with tear gas.