Man arrested in Turkey for wearing 'Kurdistan' t-shirt

The Turkish state and public remain highly sensitive to the word 'Kurdistan,' which in some cases they readily associate with treason and 'terrorism.'

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) - Turkish police officers in the northwestern city of Bursa arrested a man for wearing a t-shirt with the word 'Kurdistan' while going to a polling station to cast his vote in the Sunday referendum on extending President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers.

The man identified as Hakan T. of 30 years age live in Bursa's Inegol district according to the public-funded, pro-government Anadolu news agency.

After interrogation at a local police station, a Turkish court remanded T. to a prison on the grounds of disseminating propaganda for a "terrorist" group, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that has been waging a decades-long guerrilla warfare against the army for larger Kurdish rights.

There was no further information available regarding T.'s case by the Turkish news outlet.

The Turkish state and public remain highly sensitive to the word 'Kurdistan,' which in some cases they readily associate with treason and 'terrorism.'

A young, ethnocentric Republic of Turkey under the iron rule of its founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk banned the use of 'Kurdistan' in 1925 after a crushed Kurdish uprising by Sheikh Said against the new state.

Since then an official taboo has been imposed across the country which is the inheritor of the multi-ethnic, multi-faith Ottoman Empire that did recognize a Kurdistan Province within its borders.

Although President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have uttered the 'K- word' on several occasions since the beginning of his successive administrations in 2004, police and judiciary continue to criminalize it.

Last January, a pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Sibel Yigitalp's saying the word caused an uproar and a heated debate at the Turkish Parliament.

Before that, in December 2016 a man who murdered a woman in the Mediterranean city of Adana defended himself in front of prosecutors, claiming he committed the crime because his victim said 'we will found Kurdistan.'

In February, a Turkish court in the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir dissolved a businessmen's fraternity for having the word "Kurdistan" in its name and sentenced its chairperson to ten months in prison.

Turkey's leaders, including President Erdogan, have repeatedly called a rising Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) "a terror corridor."

Notably, Turkey’s Presidency, Prime Ministry, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs websites, as well as the government-run Anadolu Agency euphemistically refer to the Kurdistan Region as “the Kurdish Regional Administration of Iraq," although they officially deal with it as an international entity after many years of refusal to do so.


Editing by Ava Homa