Turkey bans conference on Kurdistan Region's referendum

The Ankara-appointed governorates of the Kurdish provinces of Batman and Van cited state of emergency laws.

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish authorities in the Kurdish cities of Batman and Van recently banned a series of conferences several parties were planning to hold on the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum next month.

The Ankara-appointed governorates of both provinces cited state of emergency laws against meetings, walks and other forms of conventions or protests, reported Kurdistan 24’s bureau in the de facto Kurdish capital of Diyarbakir.

Kurdistan Democratic Party - North (PDK-Bakur), Kurdistan Socialist Party (PSK), and Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK) that had applied for permission condemned the ban in a joint press conference in Batman.

“We once again see [Turkey] is afraid of a solution not only in Northern Kurdistan but also in Southern Kurdistan,” read a statement by PAK, referring to the divided Kurdish homeland by the geographic definitions Kurds use.

The three parties, among them only PAK being legally registered, formed a joint platform last month to inform people about the Kurdish right to self-determination and secession from Iraq.

Turkey has been under a four times-extended state of emergency since last year’s failed military coup attempt against the rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The laws have provided bureaucracy, judiciary, and police with powers to limit political, societal, and individual freedoms, with the government insisting on a necessity to prevent further coup attempts and Kurdish separatism.

Ankara has voiced opposition to any steps toward statehood by the Kurds in Iraq on the grounds it would lead to more instability in the region.

Turkey also fears its 20 million-strong Kurdish population would feel emboldened for similar demands.

Earlier this month, the Diyarbakir governorate banned brochures and billboard posters by the left-wing Rights and Freedoms Party (HAK-PAR) supporting the Region’s referendum on Sep. 25.

All Kurdish parties in Turkey, including the country’s second largest opposition bloc the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), whose leadership and 10 lawmakers remain imprisoned, have expressed open support for the Kurdistan Region in its steps for independence.


Editing by Karzan Sulaivany