DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish authorities in the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir on Saturday banned brochures and billboard posters supporting the Kurdistan Region’s upcoming referendum scheduled for Sep. 25, 2017.
The Ankara-appointed governor’s office rejected a request for permission by the left-wing Rights and Freedoms Party (HAK-PAR) to put up billboards advertising Kurdistan independence in at least 30 locations throughout the city.
“Long live the walk to independence,” read the poster in Kurdish featuring a white pigeon hovering over a ballot box with the Sun from the Kurdistan flag in the background.
A Kurdistan 24 correspondent in Diyarbakir said members of the HAK-PAR were also planning to circulate leaflets in Kurdish and Turkish in the streets.
However, authorities blocked the distribution of leaflets citing state of emergency laws which were in place since last year’s attempted coup against the government.
“We welcome with great joy the decision for independence by the autonomous Kurdistan Region authorities, and offer our support and solidarity to that end,” read the banned leaflet.
The HAK-PAR argued the steps for Kurdish self-determination, so far opposed by the US, neighboring Turkey, and Iran, were legitimate and compatible with international law.
“Moreover, [the Kurdistan Region’s independence] is imperative given the circumstances Iraq and the Middle East go through,” it said.
Ankara’s opposition to any steps toward statehood by the Kurds in Iraq drew criticism from the party which said Turkey, “home to 20 million Kurds,” should extend a “brotherly hand” and be the first country to recognize Kurdistan.
Turkish leaders fear the Kurdish secession from Iraq and a fledgling-Kurdish autonomy in Syria will further embolden its Kurdish citizens’ demands for political and cultural recognition if not self-rule in eastern provinces.
“Respecting Kurdish people’s right to self-determination through peaceful means will contribute to Turkey’s internal peace and economic development,” said the party.
Along the relatively small HAK-PAR, all Kurdish parties in Turkey, including the country’s third largest the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), have shown open support for the Kurdistan Region in its steps for independence.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Hesen Kako of Kurdistan 24’s Diyarbakir bureau contributed to this report)