Kurdish shopkeeper arrested for saying 'Kurdistan' in Turkey

"This place was also Kurdistan 2,000 years ago and it will continue to be so. Let's not object to that."
Shopkeeper Haci Tunc told Turkish opposition leader Sarigul that south Turkey is Kurdistan. (Photo: Twitter)
Shopkeeper Haci Tunc told Turkish opposition leader Sarigul that south Turkey is Kurdistan. (Photo: Twitter)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Another Kurdish man was detained in Turkey on Tuesday for saying "this is Kurdistan" during a visit of Mustafa Sarigul, the leader of the Party for Change in Turkey (TDP), to the province of Van. 

Haci Tunc, a shop owner, told the visiting politician that everyone in the country should be allowed to speak their mother language and refer to the southeast as Kurdistan. 

Sarigul responded by saying that everyone in the Republic of Turkey is free to speak about their nation and opinion. 

"We will stand with those citizens who say (support) the unity of flag and borders," he said. 

Tunc wasn't the only shop owner arrested for saying Kurdistan. Another shopkeeper was also recently arrested in Turkey's Kurdish province of Siirt.

"A friend of ours in Siirt said, 'This place is Kurdistan.' This place was also Kurdistan 2,000 years ago and it will continue to be so. Let's not object to that," Tunc said. 

Tunc was referring to another shop owner, Cemil Taskesen, in the Kurdish province of Siirt. Taskesen was also arrested for calling Turkey's Kurdish-majority southeast Kurdistan when Turkish ultranationalist Good (İYİ) Party leader Meral Aksener visited last month. 

Shortly after that conversation, Taskesan was briefly detained and released the following day. 

Read More: Kurdish civilian detained in Turkey for saying "this is Kurdistan"

Kurdish academic Hifzullah Kutum was also detained on Nov. 6 after writing the words "Long Live Kurdistan" on his social media account. Turkish police later released him. After his tweet, shared on Sept. 14, the Firat University in Elazig suspended Kutum from his position.

Read More: Turkish police release Kurdish academic detained for posting 'Long Live Kurdistan' on social media

Kutum called for the release of Tunc over Twitter and spoke out against the denial of the existence of Kurdistan.

Also, the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) Ministry of Peshmerga on Sunday responded to Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar's comment denying the existence of the Kurdistan Region. 

Read More: Turkish defense minister should look up Ottoman-era documents to see if Kurdistan exists: Peshmerga Ministry

The ministry described the Turkish official's remarks as "surprising" since they outright deny the very existence of a "historical, demographic, and geographic reality".

Akar made the comment -- in which he categorically denied the existence of Kurdistan, including Iraqi Kurdistan -- during a recent session in Turkey's parliament. 

Turkish judicial authorities have also repeatedly banned books that have the word Kurdistan in their title.

Nevertheless, Turkish government officials have also used the word Kurdistan themselves in the past. 

Read More: ​​AKP candidate for Istanbul says 'Kurdistan' while his government bans it

Binali Yildirim, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's candidate for Istanbul during elections two years ago, used the word "Kurdistan" during a visit to the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, a word the very administration he belongs to has banned in Parliament.

Also, President Erdogan himself used the word 'Kurdistan' in September 2013, when there was still a peace process between the Turkish authorities and the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which collapsed in July 2015. 

During the peace process, President Erdogan was more supportive of Kurdish rights.

After the collapse of the peace process in 2015 and a failed military coup to overthrow the government the following year, Erdogan's Islamist-rooted AKP became more hardline on Kurdish rights and formed an alliance with the ultranationalist, anti-Western MHP party.