Two-thousand angry protesters attacked and attempted to lynch members of a Kurdish delegation visiting Sinop, a city in the Black Sea region of Northern Turkey.
The visit of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and Democratic Congress of the People (HDK) was part of their tour to cities with relatively small Kurdish populations. BDP is the only party in parliament which stands for the Kurdish people's rights and is also known to be the legal and political wing of the Kurdish guerrilla organization, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK.)
BDP's decision to visit the region, known for its nationalist and conservative population, was a first in the history of the Kurdish movement, since the party focuses on eastern regions and big cities which of a mixed demographic.
At the end of 2012, the Turkish government started negotiations with the imprisoned leader of the PKK Abdullah Öcalan, for a solution to end the 30-year war between the Kurds and the government. At the center of these negotiations is a new constitution, that includes Kurdish identity and will not imprison Kurdish guerrillas who are fighting or have fought against the Turkish military.
The delegations visit to Sinop was the first step in starting a dialogue with the larger Turkish population to garner their support for the Kurdish-government negotiations.
But when the delegation arrived, protesters threw stones and shouted angrily at BDP's member of parliament Sırrı Süreyya Önder. To escape the the attack the BDP and HDK members raced into a nearby teachers’ lodge. The angry protesters then surrounded the building, threw rocks inside and also destroyed the vehicles of the BDP members. Two protesters climbed on the roof of the building to hoist a Turkish flag and a put up a poster of Atatürk, the founder of the country.
During the protest, Sırrı Süreyya Önder shared these pictures on his Twitter account and tweeted:
The fascist, lynch group is throwing rocks and combustible materials inside. Police is not doing anything against them. We are trying to take precautions by ourselves. pic.twitter.com/yMChw5O0
A few hours later the protesters finally left the area, after policemen asked them, rather politely, to leave.
Diyarbakır, a Kurdish city at the south-east of Turkey, hosted protests a few hours later against the lynch attempt. The police responded to these protests with tear gas and water hoses. Protests then spread to other cities, including İstanbul and the capital Ankara.
BDP member of parliament Ertuğrul Kürkçü tweeted about the protests in İstanbul by sharing this picture:
Protests continue in İstanbul. pic.twitter.com/SF9IMD8z
There were mixed reactions to the incident on social media. Journalist Gonca Şenay tweeted a picture taken from inside the teachers’ lodge during the protest and tweeted:
I guess, the barricades on the windows in Sinop Teachers’ Lodge tell us a lot.. pic.twitter.com/RcGWTULq;
Columnist Hayko Bağdat shared a picture of Sırrı Süreyya Önder while he was building a barricade on a window by tweeting:
Brother Sırrı is building the peace in Sinop… pic.twitter.com/OlDCW8um
Twitter user B. Akoz shared a a picture of a banner that protesters were holding. The banner says: “Leave Sinop. Only three things can silence Sinop Youth Platform. Sound of Azan (call for prayer), a moment of silence, the Turkish National anthem…”
Here is Akoz's tweet that mentions the “SinopDurDedi” (Sinop said stop) hashtag which was started by the supporters of the Sinop protests:
Good, Sinop said stop to the BDP and PKK members. Nobody could say stop in the parliament but Sinop said stop to the child killers… pic.twitter.com/1or2xKtI
Another Twitter user shared a picture of a destroyed car of BDP members and tweeted:
Our brothers in Sinop reshaped the car of BDP members :)) Sinop said stop. pic.twitter.com/PBdW1TWh